Just Launched: The Book of Exodus, Part 1 with Vicki Garvey

We just launched The Book of Exodus Long-Form Class with Vicki Garvey, Part 1 For Individuals and For Groups. A long-form class is, well, longer than our usual pre-recorded classes. The videos take longer to watch, and we include more discussion questions and other materials. The For Individuals course should take an average of two hours instead of forty-five minutes to take. The extra time allows us to take a more deep dive into the material than we can manage in a shorter class.

This is the first of four long-form courses on Exodus we will be offering with Vicki Garvey. This one offers an overview of Exodus as a whole. The other three focus on specific sections within Exodus.

The Book of Exodus is so long and so pivotal that most of us are familiar with the basics. The children of Israel start out as slaves in Egypt, but the God of Abraham has never left them. Moses leads them out of slavery across the Red Sea. They wander in the desert for forty years before entering Canaan. Somewhere in there, Moses receives the Ten Commandments on Mt. Sinai.

But even those basics aren’t correct in their details. The children of Israel start Exodus as wealthy and important people. (Their status doesn’t last long, but that’s how they start.) After they have been slaves for several hundred years, they have no idea who the God of Abraham is — to the point where God has to literally identify Godself and explain who God is to them. Then Moses (a very reluctant leader) leads the people (very reluctant followers) across the Sea of Reeds into the wilderness for the second act of the book, the entirety of which is devoted to transformation. It’s the process by which a bunch of people who were once defined as a subclass of Egyptian slaves are recreated into a community defined by its devotion to the God of Abraham.

Scripture describes the tablets on which the Ten Commandments were written as being inscribed on both sides, not just one (or possibly written so that they words went through the tablets, see Exodus 32:15). It doesn’t mention their being rounded at the top, even though that’s the image of the Ten Commandments we have held for centuries, and it never mentions their being joined together. Most of how we portray them comes from Christian tradition rather than scripture.

What we think we know about Exodus often differs from what is written in the book itself.

In this class, renowned scholar and teacher of scripture Vicki Garvey begins a series of four long-form courses examining the Book of Exodus. This course offers an introduction to some important aspects of Exodus as a whole. The next three courses examine specific sections of Exodus in detail.

In her first lecture in Part 1, Vicki offers an overview about the date, authorship, and structure of the Book of Exodus. In her second lecture, she examines the major characters in Exodus and the journeys they take over the course of the book. In her third lecture, she discusses the Book of Exodus in the wider context of scripture. In the final lecture, Vicki examines major themes and terminology in the Book of Exodus.

This course is ideal for anyone interested in learning more about a book of the Bible that, even more than many others, has influenced Christian thought. For a course preview, please click below.

Just Launched: Calming Your Inner Critic with Teri Racey

We just launched Calming Your Inner Critic with Teri Racey For Individuals and For Groups.

Jesus said we should love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Unless Jesus was suggesting we tear other people down, that direction suggests that Jesus wants us to love ourselves. But in our culture, harsh judgment — including harsh self judgment — is a common habit. Self-critique can even feel like a virtue, like keeping ourselves in line, in its cycles of rigid self-recrimination. Our inner critic — the self-talk narrative that runs through our minds and critiques our choices — can, therefore, be relentless for some people, and they may never recognize the damage it’s doing.

And a harsh inner critic DOES damage us. First, we are prone to listen to it. If anyone tells us we are bad, stupid, ugly, etc. often enough, it makes an impression — even if we’re the ones saying it to ourselves, even in the privacy of our own minds. Second, if you have ever met a person who tends to judge people and experiences negatively, you have probably noticed they are often wrong. They see the world far more negatively than they need to. Likewise, an inner voice that makes a pattern of harsh self judgments is often wrong about the self it’s judging. Finally, people who judge themselves harshly often find themselves sharing that dubious gift with others. If you feel you never measure up as a parent or partner, for example, how are you likely to treat your kids or your spouse? The frustration inherent in being constantly judged and habit of judging build up and tend to affect others.

In short, we really do tend to love others as we love ourselves — so treating ourselves with affection, compassion, and kindness is a good way to help ourselves love others. Which is all to the good, since God wants us to treat everyone with love.

In this course, author and mindfulness coach Teri Racey examines what the inner critic is and how it can hold us back, as well as offering techniques for rebuilding our internal narrative in a spirit of compassion rather than harsh judgment. In addition, she offers the practice of mindfulness meditation as a tool to connect with our inner selves and with God’s loving voice. Through mindfuless meditation we can learn to calm our inner critics and create a more loving and nurturing relationship with ourselves — and therefore with our neighbors.

This course is ideal for anyone struggling with a tendency toward self-criticism — which is most of us.

Just Launched: Introducing Mormonism with Jana Reiss

We just launched Introducing Mormonism with Jana Reiss For Individuals and For Groups.

Many people outside The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (usually called Mormons) have heard of Mormonism and know a little bit about it, but what is Mormonism really about? What is fact and what is fiction in terms of how the public understands Mormonism? How does Mormonism break down in terms of subcategories? What are the current challenges the Mormon church faces? Where and how is it looking to grow in the future?

In this course, Jana Riess, a leading authority on Mormonism, brings her extensive understanding of this faith tradition to help us understand the basic principles of Mormonism, as well as how it differs from traditional Christianity, although it is a Christian faith. She takes us on a journey exploring the diverse beliefs and practices of Mormonism, and the vibrant cultural expressions that have emerged from its followers.

Jana holds a Ph.D. in American religious history from Columbia University. She speaks often to media about issues pertaining to religion in America, and has been interviewed by the Associated Press, Time, Newsweek, People, The Boston Globe, USA Today, The Los Angeles Times, and Newsday, among other print publications, as well as Voice of America, The Today Show, MSNBC, and NPR’s All Things Considered, Tell Me More, and Talk of the Nation. She is the author or co-author of many books, including, The Next Mormons: How Millennials Are Changing the LDS Church, The Prayer Wheel, and Flunking Sainthood. She is a senior columnist for Religion News Service.

This course is ideal for anyone who would like to learn more about the basics of Mormon beliefs. For a course preview, please click below.

Just Launched: Keeping Your Daily Devotions Fresh with Peter Wallace

We just launched Keeping Your Daily Devotions Fresh with Peter Wallace For Individuals and For Groups.

If you live in Atlanta or enjoy the Day1 podcast and radio program from a distance, you know who Peter Wallace is. For those of you who don’t follow it, Day1 is a program that has been on the air since 1945 and presents preaching from outstanding preachers in mainline Protestant denominations. Peter is its executive director and has been hosting since 2001. He is the author of many books, including several on daily spirituality, and is an Episcopal priest in the Diocese of Atlanta.

If you want advice on daily spirituality, Peter is the person to ask. In this course, he gives advice about what to do to establish a practice of daily devotions — and to keep it going when it starts to feel rote or like an empty ritual, as happens to many worship practices over time.

Peter starts out by explaining why daily devotions are an important spiritual practice. We need to spend time with God, but we’re so busy and so overwhelmed with responsibilities and noise and people and businesses trying to snag our attention that we sometimes ignore the “still, small voice” of God speaking to us. At the same time, we recognize that something is missing. We want to spend time in the presence of God, even when we don’t realize that that’s what we need. That’s where a practice of daily devotions comes in — making a habit of setting aside time to listen to and focus on God. Peter also offers advice about what to include and reviews many resources to help us make our devotional time rich.

But what if the practice loses heart? Peter has many suggestions for how to handle it if you drop the habit and need to restart it or it starts to feel like an empty ritual. How do we keep it going? How do we ensure it retains meaning for us? That it truly is an experience of listening to God? This course offers dozens of suggestions for ways to handle that.

Peter’s course is ideal for anyone wishing to begin or refresh a habit of daily spiritual practice. For a course preview, please click below.

Just Launched — Putting Jesus’ Values to Work: Red-Letter Christianity 2 with Larry Stoess

We just launched Putting Jesus’ Values to Work: Red-Letter Christianity 2 with Larry Stoess For Individuals and For Groups. This is the second of two Red-Letter Christianity classes — so called because Larry bases his ideas on the words of Jesus, which many bibles print in red letters. This class explores how we can live out Jesus’ values in our lives and in our communities. The first, related class, examines Jesus’ values in depth.

We hear ab

Chromotypograph of Jesus calling Peter the rock and foundation of his church. This file comes from Wellcome Images, a website operated by Wellcome Trust, a global charitable foundation based in the United Kingdom.

out Jesus’ invitation to follow him throughout our lives. But what does this great proposal really mean? The institution of the Church we have have created is most likely quite different from the path Jesus had in mind when he told Peter he would build his Church “on this rock.”

In this course, Larry Stoess takes us on a journey of of imaging how to put the values of Jesus’ to work in our communities so that we can truly follow him, living and loving as he taught us to among our neighbors. Larry calls us to enter into the mystery of the kingdom of God, into which Jesus invites us, a subject Larry knows well. He wrote the book Think Red, an examination of what a community would look like that truly based its choices on the actions and values of Jesus. Larry has lived into these values in his community in Louisville, Kentucky. He is the co-founder of Church of the Promise in Louisville’s Portland neighborhood, The Table Café, a pay-what-you-can community café, and Promise Housing Plus, a non-profit construction company that renovates abandoned homes to create housing opportunities for people in need.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, author of the Little Prince, is often credited with offering a metaphor for how we can follow Jesus’ aspirational vision of the world as it should be, of the kingdom of God, available to us here and now and in the age to come: “If you really want to build ships, teach people to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” In this class, Larry talks about what we yearn for — what Jesus shows us about the vast and endless sea that is the Kingdom of God.

This course will interest anyone who would like to focus on Jesus’ vision and ministry as the gospel writers depict them and anyone interested in ideas on how to build communities based on Jesus’ ideas. For a preview, please click below.


Coming Soon: Putting Jesus’ Values to Work: Red-Letter Christianity 2 with Larry Stoess

Next week, we will launch Putting Jesus’ Values to Work: Red-Letter Christianity 2 with Larry Stoess For Individuals and For Groups. If you’re interested in analyzing Jesus’ work and ideas with a strict focus on what he says about them in the gospels, both this class and our other Red-Letter Christianity class (Jesus’ Values: Red-Letter Christianity 1 with Larry Stoess, available in both For Individuals and For Groups formats) are for you.

Part 1 of our two Red-Letter Christianity classes, launched last week, looks at Jesus’ words to determine what values were most important to him. Part 2 will talk about how he wanted his followers to enact these values in the world, in their communities. It talks about how Jesus’ values influenced his vision for the Kingdom of God on earth, and how that vision motivated his mission.

Larry Stoess is an author, community activist, and church planter. The main question he answers in this course is: having determined what Jesus’ values were, what did he want his followers to do with them?

This course will work best if you take Part 1 first, but you can take it as a stand-alone class since Larry does briefly recap his sense of what Jesus’ values were at the beginning of the course. For a course preview, please click below.


Just Launched — Jesus’ Values: Red Letter Christianity 1

We have just launched Jesus’ Values: Red Letter Christianity 1 For Individuals and For Groups.

This class focuses on identifying what Jesus cared about  by studying his words in the gospels. Since these words are written in red in some bibles, we are calling this course a red-letter Christianity course. The course can be taken on its own or as part one of two. The second part, which will come out in two weeks, examines how Jesus wanted his followers to live out his values.

We speak of following the way of Jesus, but what exactly does that mean? Have you considered how radical Jesus’ values really are? Have you explored whether you and your community are truly living into them and engaging with them in concrete ways?

Larry Stoess has thought a lot about this subject. Larry wrote the book Think Red, an examination of what a community would look like that truly based its choices on the actions and values of Jesus. Larry has lived into these values in his community in Louisville, Kentucky. He is the co-founder of Church of the Promise in Louisville’s Portland neighborhood, The Table Café, a pay-what-you-can community café, and Promise Housing Plus, a non-profit construction company that renovates abandoned homes to create housing opportunities for people in need.

In this course, Larry takes us on a journey of examining Jesus’ values. While not complicated to understand, these values do not fit naturally into our culture. In many ways and contexts, from our societal structures to our personal choices, these values challege us every day of our lives. Larry’svideo lectures include:

  • Relationships
  • Downward Mobility and Human Dignity
  • Radical Generosity
  • Small Beginnings and New Beginnings

This course is ideal for those who want to engage with Jesus’ values in new and deeper ways. For a preview, please click below.


Just Launched: Seeing the Unseen: Lessons in Civil Discourse with Mark Beckwith

He said to him,“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22: 37-40).

The Rt. Rev. Mark Beckwith.

We just launched Seeing the Unseen: Lessons in Civil Discourse with Mark Beckwith For Individuals and For Groups.

Because we experience the world through the lens of individual brains and bodies, we humans sometimes have trouble sometimes understanding that other people are real. We get it intellectually, of course, but we sometimes fall into treating others as side characters in the main story (ours). If we are not careful, we can see others as relevant only in terms of how they interact with us.

Jesus spends a lot of time in the gospels trying to correct this mistake. He consistently demonstrates through word and action that no human being is a side character to God. God sees us each as important, and despite the limitations of our perspective, it is our job to see one another as God sees us. Poor people, obnoxious people, prisoners, mentally ill people, our enemies — God sees each of us as a main character. “Love one another as I have loved you,” Jesus says (John 13:34-35). Jesus wants us to make an imaginative leap — to comprehend in our hearts as well as in our minds that each of us is fully human — and to interact accordingly.

In this course, retired bishop, author, and activist Mark Beckwith talks about ways to interact people whose humanity we tend to overlook. In the first lesson, he discusses interacting with people at a soup kitchen near his work and what it meant to really see them as humans equal in wisdom and experience to him. In the second lesson, he examines what this approach looks like in the context of mission work. In the third lesson, he talks about creates space for civil, respectful discourse with people whose beliefs differ from our own. In the fourth lesson, he uses gun safety as an example of how the civil discourse he teaches can play out in the real world.

Mark’s course is based on his 2022 book Seeing the Unseen: Beyond Prejudices, Paradigms and Party Lines

This course is ideal for anyone interested in learning how to bridge the divisions the various forces in our world raise between us. For a preview, please click below.

You Are Invited to Take Our Lenten Series: Wrestling with Faith and Money with Miguel Escobar


Join us this March for a thought-provoking four-part live series, Wrestling with Faith and Money with Miguel Escobar, in which participants will delve into the complex relationship between Christianity and wealth. Author and scholar Miguel Escobar will guide participants through an exploration of how early Christians grappled with issues of poverty and prosperity, and how their views evolved over time.

  • In the first session, Miguel will explore three stories in the Gospel of Luke that explore wealth’s liberative purpose and the way these same stories were reinterpreted by the Church in the third and fifth centuries.
  • In the second session, participants will examine the ideas of Clement of Alexandria on retaining riches.
  • In the third session, the class will look at ancient definitions of money itself including money as a useful tool, money as a source of temptation, as well as money as a powerful (but highly addictive) medicine during a time of natural disaster.
  • In the fourth session, Miguel will return to the New Testament and explore Paul’s vision of koinonia, a form of economic fellowship which reappears again and again in various forms in later centuries.

The class will meet in four Zoom sessions on Wednesday nights at 8 p..m. E.T. on March 1, March 8, March 15, and March 22, 2023. Participants will be able to view recordings of missed sessions, get optional reading assignments, and download course materials at the the ChurchNext Wresting with Wealth and Poverty course page.

Participants in this course can receive a 25% discount on Miguel’s book, The Unjust Steward: Poverty and Wealth in the Church. This book is not necessary to take the course or follow the discussions, but we will be suggesting readings from it that may enhance your learning experience.

Miguel Escobar is Executive Director of Union Theological Seminary’s Episcopal Divinity School. Hear what he has to say about this course by clicking on the video below.

Receive Your Certification in Episcopal Catechismal Study

ChurchNext offers several certification programs for people who want to become well-versed in particular topics. For example, we already have a Certification in Vestry Leadership and a Certification in Prayer Book Studies. Today, we’re announcing a new focused area of study: a Certification in Episcopal Catechismal Study.

In this series of courses, participants become familiar with the topics covered in the Episcopal Catechism. At the end of this series, participants should be have a solid understanding of each section of the catechism. They should be able to open the prayer book to any section of the catechism and have a good sense of what beliefs and systems that section affirms.

Upon completion, either the individual taking the series or a mentor guiding their study may write hello@churchnext.tv and let us know you have completed your certification program. We will send your customized ChurchNext Certificate in Episcopal Catechismal Study.


Courses in this series include:

This series can be used in many ways

  • It can help any Christian refresh their understanding of the basic tenets of the Episcopal approach to faith.
  • It can help adults prepare for baptism.
  • It can help young people prepare for confirmation.
  • It can be a tool used in catechumenate programs.
  • It can help new Episcopalians gain an understanding of our denomination’s approach to familiar Christian concepts.

Please note that all these courses are formatted for both individual and group study. They can, therefore, be adapted for use in many different contexts. Here are some examples:

  • The For Groups courses can be the basis for group study, but they don’t have to be. You can combine them with other group activities.
  • If a church is doing an in-person study series and someone has to miss a session, they can take a short online course on the topic — or even just relevant sections of a course — to keep up.
  • Courses can be adapted for hybrid study programs in all sorts of ways — doing some classes at home and some in person, for example, or doing a program with at-home and in-person subgroups.
  • The list could go on, but you get the idea. Be creative! These courses are adaptable tools.