Just Launched:Five Keys to Renewing Your Congregation with Jay Sidebotham

If you would like to bring a new energy to your congregation or work with  your members to pursue deeper spirituality, you should take our new course, Five Keys to Renewing Your Congregation with Jay Sidebotham For Individuals and For Groups.

The Rev. Jay Sidebotham directs RenewalWorks, a Forward Movement ministry designed to help churches lead their congregations and their members into more profound Christian discipleship. He is well-known also for his humorous cartoons about Episcopal Church parish life. (Fun fact about Jay: Before his call to the priesthood, he was an animator and illustrator. Some of you may remember his work from childhood Saturday morning t.v. — Jay animated Schoolhouse Rock!)

In his work, Jay has researched and worked with many churches, guiding them into learning how to lead their parishes and members into doing the work that is needed for deepening their spiritual lives. In this class, he offers five main ideas for approaches that churches can take in helping their congregations and members deepen their relationship with and understanding of God.

Jay argues that church leaders need to encourage members to take ownership of their spiritual journeys. He offers ideas about encouraging the church as a whole and individuals within the church to examine their lives; what creates spiritual growth and what stagnates it. He discusses ways for church leaders to bring Scripture into the church’s activities and to encourage members practice discipleship outside the church walls. Finally, he examines the leadership qualities that characterize the most effective spiritual leaders.

We hope that this class helps you as you discern about how to lead your church into spiritual renewal. To learn more about the class, please click below.

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Just Launched: How to Market Your Church with Nicole Krug


If you have been wondering what your church might do to reach out into the community, begin exploring this topic with Nicole Krug’s How To Market Your Church For Individuals and For Groups.

The word “marketing” can conjure up images of false shine — bright advertisements and impossibly attractive actors. Most of us don’t associate such commercial notions with the Christian experience as we know it. Nor should we. In this class, Nicole Krug introduces church marketing to people who are new to the process as a way of helping a church reach out into the local community and introduce itself, with genuine warmth and without false promises or sales pitches.

Times have changed, and people don’t always enter church pews on Sunday mornings as a matter of course. Churches, therefore, need to enter the community to let people know what they are about. For this reason, churches now need marketing strategies to introduce themselves to their local communities.

In this class, Nicole Krug, Canon for Media and Communications with the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona, teaches churches how to use event planning at the church to reach out into the community. She teaches how to use social media and electronic communications to support the parish and open the church to newcomers. Finally, she suggests ways that churches might work with local media to enter the conversation about relevant topics of the day.

If you would like to learn more about church marketing, this class is for you. To learn more about it, please click below.

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Our New Offering

We have added a new element to our ChurchNext ministry. In addition to courses to which people may subscribe, we have begun offering short videos highlighting some of our instructors’ insights. There is no charge for these offerings. With these videos, we hope to give people short, meditative moments — ideas on which they can muse and pray, whether or not they subscribe to the classes.

We have published three of these videos so far, each less than two minutes long. In our most recent video, Allison LaBianca discusses what it means for her to pray with the body as well as with the mind and heart.

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In this one, Demi Prentiss offers a perspective on church as a “base camp” — a place to rest and replenish ourselves before we go back to our work as Christians in the world.

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In this one, Mike Durall discusses spiritual changes as “bends” in the wire of our spiritual lives.

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We believe in Christian education, of course, but like Demi Prentiss, we also believe in refreshment of the spirit. Like Mike Durall, we want to offer new life to people’s spiritual lives as well as new ideas.

We hope these videos refresh you and energize you as you continue our shared work of sharing Christ’s peace with the world.



Just Launched: What Vibrant Congregations Do with Mike Durall

We have just launched What Vibrant Congregations Do with Mike Durall For Individuals and For Groups. Mike’s class is based on the premise,”It is in giving that we receive.” In the world, this principle is often counter-intuitive, but in the church, it shouldn’t be. Churches that need energy, members, money (or all of these) infused into their parishes need to spend energy and money on the mission of the church: spreading the word of God and caring for others. In doing so, they will gain what they need in order to thrive.

When the rubber meets the road, this practice can become difficult to the point of being alarming. How can a church that is worried about keeping the lights on choose to devote more money to outreach? Why would a church that is short on members risk scaring newcomers away by creating a parish life that expects active contributions of time and money from its members?

Mike’s answer lies in the hearts of people who seek out the Christian life. We are called to ministry. We join churches because we want a deeper connection with God and to act as Christ’s body in the world. In spending money and energy on outreach and mission work; in being adventurous and creative as we engage these ministries, we create churches that feed this deep need.

In this class, Mike Durall, principal consultant for the CommonWealth Consulting Group, in which capacity he works with congregations from many mainline Christian denominations, explains what congregations need to do to bring energy and life into their parishes.

For a preview of Mike’s class, please click below.

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Online Resource: Theology of Work Project


On Sunday, we launched Radical Sending with Demi Prentiss For Individuals and For Groups. The mission of radical sending is, as Demi Prentiss discusses here, to consider our church the base camp, where we get nourishment and rest. Our work, she argues, is done out in the world, and our churches’ focus should be on equipping us to do that work.

If you’re interested in the concept of radical sending or in ideas related to vocation, you should investigate the website for the Theology of Work Project. The Theology of Work Project is an independent organization that produces materials designed to support people in being Christ’s ministers in secular workplaces. Devotionals, meditations, articles, videos, and interviews are among the resources dedicated to supporting people in bringing their Christian faith into their professional lives.

The Theology of Work website addresses the needs of different groups of people. For Christians in the workplace, the website includes materials to help discern about professional choices, materials discussing the Bible’s ideas about work and the Christian faith, examples of people who have integrated their faith into their professional lives, and devotionals for Christians in the workforce.

For pastors and congregations who wish to equip people to live vibrant Christian lives through their professions, the website offers materials to support sermons on these topics, resources for counseling people about work and vocation, ideas about what other congregations are doing in this aspect of ministry, and ideas for leading group discussions on workplace Christianity.

The website also offers to theologians and scholars interested in researching Christina theology and work.

We hope that you investigate this resource and use it to support our mission of going out into the world to love and serve the Lord. Thanks be to God!

Just Launched: Radical Sending with Demi Prentiss


Today, we launch Radical Sending with Demi Prentiss For Individuals and For Groups. This class, based on Demi Prentiss’ book Radical Sending: Go to Love and Serve, tells congregations how to focus their parishes’ energy outwards, into the world. Outside in the world is where the real work of Christianity lives.  Our experiences in services in church and in community with one another serve to equip us, nurture us, and prepare us for that work.

In this class, Demi Prentiss covers the concept of radical sending: what it means and what congregations that are called to radical sending tend to do. She discusses the role that congregations play in helping to equip and strengthen one another for the work that we are called to do in the world. She discusses the role of the sending in the Eucharist and its importance for Christians: having been nourished, we are exhorted to go forth to love and serve the Lord. Finally, she discusses ways that Congregations can support one another in our shared work as Christians in the world.

This class is a terrific option for churches that want guidance in shifting their focus as a congregation out into the world and onto the work that we should be doing as individuals in the world. Also, individuals and congregations who liked Stephanie Spellers’ Class Radical Welcoming, or her book Radical Welcome:Embracing God, the Other, and the Spirit of Transformation  might want to investigate this class. The book on which it is based was published as a companion to Spellers’ book, and its themes build on the themes of radical welcome.

For a preview of Radical Sending with Demi Prentiss, please click below.

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