Just Launched: Slaying Your Goliath with John Ohmer

We just launched Slaying Your Goliath with John Ohmer For Individuals and For Groups. If you are interested in learning about the ancient David and Goliath story and applying its message to your own battles, you should take this course.

Listeners and readers for millennia have encountered the giant Goliath bellowing, “Who will fight me?” and David, the shepherd boy who would be king agreeing to fight him when no-one else will, in the name of the God of Israel.

Centuries of artists have rendered the famous encounter in stone, cloth, clay, paint, metal, and cinema. The characters have been adapted to the looks and fashions of different times and places.

One recent version of the story even portrays David as a tiny, lean asparagus facing Goliath: a huge, earth-shaking pickle.

The contrasts between big versus small, might versus cowardice, kindness versus bitterness and faith in God versus faith in any weaker powers have remained relevant to many cultures over thousands of years.

The enduring lessons from this and the many other versions of the David and Goliath story run deep, demand reflection, and move people to action.  The story asks people to stand and declare who we are and whose we are; what we believe in, and where our focus lies — a theme that mattered in ancient Israel and that still matters to people across the world today.  The David and Goliath story is set in the Book of Samuel amidst the many stories that chronicle the life of David. David’s life becomes a testament of faith, human frailty, creativity, diversity and strength, a strength that God gives David, which David uses as a boy to slay his giant and later in life to bring the tribes of Israel together, all too briefly, into the kingdom that God has called them to become.

In this course, John Ohmer, Rector at Falls Church Episcopal Church in Virginia and author of Slaying Your Goliaths: How God Can Help, offers an interpretation of this ancient story in ways that can help all of us bring ourselves to fight the Goliaths of our own lives and our own world — even the giants that seem the most invulnerable to our resistance. 

Images:
1. 7th-century Byzantine silver plate portraying the battle between David and Goliath. Artist unknown. Currently housed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
2. 12th century Catulan mural portraying the battle between David and Goliath. Artist unknown. Currently housed in the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya. Public Domain.
3. 16th century. “David with the head of Goliath.” Carvaggio. Currently housed in the Museo National del Prado in Madrid. Public Domain. 

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Try ChurchNext this Summer For Free

Yes!!!Free ChurchNext,Baby!If your congregation has been considering trying ChurchNext, or you know a parish that might be interested in subscribing, tell them about a deal that we are offering this summer. We’re offering 30 days of free ChurchNext membership for any congregations that might like to try it out. Just email us at hello@churchnext.tv and we’ll get you started.
This means you’ll have unlimited access to the 300+ courses in our ever-growing library, including our For Individuals and For Groups classes as well as our certificate programs in Prayer Book Understanding and Vestry Leadership. You’ve got 30 days to use ChurchNext as much as you like.
You may sign up for your 30-day trial membership any time this summer. During that time you’re free to send us an email at hello@churchnext.tv and cancel your account with no obligation whatsoever.
Using our summer trial also gets you our discounted membership rate if you choose to subscribe. After 30 days we’ll assume you’re liking what you’re seeing. So at that time we will go ahead and charge the credit card on file for the discounted, annual rate of $300 for the year. Your subscription will begin on that day; you will never pay for the 30 days of your trial membership.
This is a great opportunity for churches that have been considering ChurchNext to try it out — and for churches that don’t know much about it to see what we’re all about. So if you don’t have a ChurchNext subscription, give it a try this summer. If you do, tell other churches about us, since it’s a good time to introduce the program.
We hope that you have a blessed (and awesome) summer.
ocean

Just Launched: Praying the Examen with Chris Anderson

Chris Anderson

We have just launched Praying the Examen with Chris Anderson For Individuals and For Groups. 

Centuries after his death, our society still honors St. Ignatius Loyola, the father of the LoyolaJesuit order. Around the world, many Christians continue to make daily use of his tools for rich spiritual lives. In particular, Ignatius is responsible for bringing his interpretation of the style of prayer known as the Examen into public notice.

Ignatius initially intended the Examen as a prayer tool for the newly-founded Jesuit order, but soon, lay people were using it as well, and centuries later, many people still reply on the Examen as a foundational element in their spiritual lives. Practitioners of the Examen vary in age, gender, religious denomination, country, ethnicity, and their even belief in God. Different groups and individuals bring their own variations on the Examen to the table, but the essence remains the same: “To prayerfully reflect on the events of the day in order to detect God’s presence and discern God’s direction for us.”

In this course, Chris Anderson, professor of English at Oregon State University, poet, and Catholic deacon, will teach you about the Examen and introduce you to many resources available on this approach to prayer. We hope that you will use these lectures and resources to discover what approaches to  this prayer resonate with you, so that you may use these them to create your unique Examen experience.

For a preview of the course, click here.

Just Launched: Small Groups That Work with Kate Wesch

Kate Wesch

We have just launched Small Groups that Work with Kate Wesch For Individuals and For Groups. This class is good for people or congregations that want to work on building community within the parish.

As Christians, we are directed to grow in our faith and mission through our church But less dependent on quips and booze.communities. One model for building church communities is is through small groups — groups where “everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came.”

Gilbert Bilezikian, founder of Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois, says, “It is within the small groups that people can get close enough to know each other, to care and share, to challenge and support, to confide and confess, to forgive and be forgiven, to laugh and weep together, to be accountable to each other. ” Through this kind of sharing, disciples are born.

The making of disciples does not happen in isolation, but through interactive relationships. In the small groups space, participants’ faith is Group.pngstretched and strengthened, and they form the disciplines needed for discipleship. The small group helps them commit to connecting to God through community and to challenge each other to grow in faith. The group creates an environment that fosters and enables the “magic” to happen.  It is the strength of individuals coming together in surrender to God.

In this course, Kate Wesch,  an Episcopal priest and small group minister at Epiphany Episcopal Church in Seattle, WA, offers reasons that churches might choose to adopt the small groups model of building community. She offers suggestions for what effective small groups might look like and what activities they might engage. She guides congregations that want to adopt small groups in what questions to ask as they plan their groups, and ways to avoid problems, emphasizing patience and persistence. Finally, she discusses what small groups might achieve for themselves and the parish at large as they grow together in community.

For a preview of Kate’s course, click here.

Memorial Day

World War 1

It’s Memorial Day weekend. This weekend, we remember those who  have died as a result of their service in the United States military. Many were career soldiers. They gave their lives because they wanted serve and defend the United States. Others were called into war by their country during times of need. We remember them all in the coming days.

Remembering these men and women, most of them young, who died as a result of their Ardennenoffensive, US-Gefangeneservice, is painful. But this weekend, let us take some time and focus on them; show them our respect. Don’t worry about what other people are doing or about politics or about how whatever we do reflects on us.

Let us just remember them: who they were and what they lost. Let us ask God to keep them, forever, in the kind of peace that our fallen world may never see.

Vietnam War

In World War I, many soldiers prayed for protection using Psalm 91.  Read it this weekend and remember those who have died in service of our country.

Psalm 91

You who live in the shelter of the Most High,
    who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,[a]
will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress;
    my God, in whom I trust.”
For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
    and from the deadly pestilence;
he will cover you with his pinions,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night,
    or the arrow that flies by day,
or the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
    or the destruction that wastes at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only look with your eyes
    and see the punishment of the wicked.

Because you have made the Lord your refuge,[b]
    the Most High your dwelling place,
10 no evil shall befall you,
    no scourge come near your tent.

11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways.
12 On their hands they will bear you up,
    so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the adder,
    the young lion and the serpent you will trample under foot.

14 Those who love me, I will deliver;
    I will protect those who know my name.
15 When they call to me, I will answer them;
    I will be with them in trouble,
    I will rescue them and honor them.
16 With long life I will satisfy them,
    and show them my salvation.

Amen.

640px-Poppies_Field_in_Flanders

 

Just Launched: Ministering with Millennials with Katie Nakamura Rengers

We have just launched Ministering with Millennials with Katie Nakamura Rengers For Individuals and For Groups. In this course, Katie discusses reasons that millennials aren’t attending church and ways to reach out to them.

We’ve seen the memes.

 

We’ve read the irritable lists about all the things that generations before the millennials survived.

Millennial list

 

We’ve seen the headlines.

Millennial meme 4.jpg

 

And yet we wonder why millennials (the subjects of these commentaries) don’t want to go to churches run by baby boomers (the people who tend to make these commentaries.)

Millennials are the largest generation alive today. They are not only important to the faith community; they are are a necessity if we want to bring the church into the new world — a world that they will be running in 20-30 years.

If we believe what we say about the good news of Jesus Christ, moreover, then we must remember that millennials need the church as much as the church needs them. They are a generation that has been steeped in dark news about the world since elementary school. Many of them were in their school years during 9/11. They have been bombarded with information about the evils of this world since they were very young — and, understandably, they have learned to question the people and structures that govern them.

Katie is an Episcopal Priest in Birmingham, Alabama, where she runs The Abbey, a nonprofit coffee shop that brings the church into the community. She’s also a millennial. In this course, she will discuss what characteristics define the millennial generation.  She will talk about how millennials view faith today and about millennials’ quest for community. Finally, she will discuss the importance of making room for this generation at God’s table.

We hope that you will learn a great deal from Katie about reaching out to millennials in the church. For a preview of Katie’s course, click here.

 

3 Ways To Use ChurchNext During the Summer

Summertime is on its way.  Cold lemonade and juicy watermelon. Waves crashing on the beach. The smell of burgers cooking on the grill. Opportunities for spiritual and intellectual growth.

Yes! You read that correctly. Opportunities for spiritual and intellectual development are not just a cold weather thing anymore. Now the summer brings relaxation, beach books, and the comfort of your own home or vacation spot as you seek a deeper knowledge of ways in which people worship God in our world. If you are as coordinated as the woman below, you could even take these courses in your hammock.

Untitled design (1)Two  useful aspects of ChurchNext classes are, they aren’t too intense (only 45 minutes long for most people) and they travel. If you can bring a phone or a computer and get internet access, you can participate in a course. Consider utilizing these benefits as you plan your approach to church ministries over the summer.

Here are 3 ways to use ChurchNext courses this summer:

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Bonus points for people who can demonstrate that they completed a course while sipping a mai tai. Photo Credit: Johnny Silvercloud.

1. Use “hybrid” courses. Churches that choose to do adult formation work over the summer run into the difficulty that people are in and out a lot. If you choose to do a series of ChurchNext courses, though, you can offer the courses on Sundays for people who are in town and have people follow the courses by taking them in their For Individuals format from whatever beach house, hotel, campsite, or mountain cabin they happen to be enjoying when they’re on vacation. That way, they can keep up. (Bonus feature: less preparation work to do for the courses, in keeping with the slower summer pace. )

2. Create a “learn from home” summer group.  Have your ChurchNext administrator email people to see if they would be interested in participating in a learn from home group over the summer. People who miss regular adult formation opportunities in the summer might be interested in this kind of opportunity. Others who might be interested: people who will be in and out on vacations, people who leave for extended summer trips and want to stay connected, and parents with children home from school for the summer who might like to feel connected to an adult resource on their own schedule.If you choose to do a learn from home group, we recommend:

  • Having someone (the ChurchNext administrator or some other interested member) be appointed to create a basic schedule and send out reminders so that people remember to participate.
  • Selecting a series of related courses that is likely to interest people in your parish. You could do a social justice series, for example — particularly relevant in the current political climate — or a Bible study series, or you might experiment with different approaches to prayer. Just look under categories in our library that interest you (such as the categories to which we linked above) and select related courses from that group. The ambitious among you might even choose to work toward earning a ChurchNext Certificate (but see our last point before taking on too much.)
  • You might also group courses by a favorite instructor. Michael Curry and David Lose, for example, both offer multiple classes with ChurchNext.
  • Don’t try to take on too many courses. People get busier than they think they will over the summer.

3. Create your own course. Churches that wish to create their own ChurchNext courses using their own material and material from existing courses may choose to create their own summer course. St. Peter’s Church in Charlotte, NC, for example, chose to focus their efforts one year on learning more about who Jesus was and what he said during his time with us on earth. As part of this effort, they combined four classes focused on Jesus into one large summer class called Befriending Jesus. The class met in person several times over the summer, but they also took it remotely so that people could participate while on vacation. Bishop Susan Goff created a course for the Diocese of Virginia that was so successful that we asked her if we could make it part of the worldwide ChurchNext library. (She very kindly said yes.)

We hope that these suggestions help you as you consider what kinds of programs to offer in your church over the summer.

We leave you today with this summertime musical experience with Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. Have a blessed and peaceful summer.

summertime

Photo credit: Liz West.