Learn How to Serve on a Vestry: Earn a ChurchNext Certificate In Vestry Leadership

Many churches look for ways to help new vestry members prepare to take on their responsibilities. Church leaders can make this process simpler by asking new vestry members to earn a ChurchNext Certificate in Vestry Leadership. Each member of your vestry team can earn this certificate by taking four classes designed to train them for their vestry duties:

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We have designed these courses carefully to help vestry members learn about several important aspects of vestry ministry. New vestry members, or experienced members who would like to learn more about these aspects of their ministry, can take these courses as individuals, or they can build fellowship by taking together the versions of the classes formatted for group learning and discussion. They might do so at a vestry retreat, for example, or as part of a vestry orientation.At the end of the final class, students may click on the link that we provide, and we will send each of them a signed, personal certificate of completion.

InstructorIn The Vestry Journey, Van Sheets discusses the role of vestry leaders in the church. He offers guidance about how to adapt to vestry ministry, resources to which vestry members can look for guidance, and helpful attitudes and mindsets to bring into vestry work.

In Vision and the Vestry, Charles Robertson guides vestries in instructorcreating a “sacred bundle” of values, ministries, and ideas that are most important to their particular congregations. He discusses ways to create goals based on these sacred ideas, and how to ensure that the church builds toward these goals in its ministries.

In Vestry Team Building and Conflict, Bill Carroll offers guidance on Instructorways to base the vestry ministry in a sacred fellowship that can offer a foundation for discussion and decision-making. He identifies strategies for building fellowship on a vestry and for managing conflict and anxiety during difficult times.

In Understanding Vestry Finances, Tom Post discusses the financial duties that vestry members assume as part of their ministry. He emphasizes the importance of all vestry members’ participation in financial Instructor imageoversight and discusses (in plain English) how vestries should handle financial reporting and building budgets.

Several church leaders who have been consulted about these classes have offered their opinions about the courses’ great value for churches who would like a way to introduce new vestry members to this ministry. For example, Roger Ferlo, President Bexley Seabury Seminary  has written: The ChurchNext series of courses for Vestry leaders offers a robust, thorough introduction to the joys and challenges of vestry leadership.”  Kirk Smith, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona, has said, “This is a convenient, practical way to gain essential information for new and veteran vestry members.”

We hope that as your church members learn more about leading your congregation, these classes help them do the work of Christ in their churches and communities.



2 Tips For Getting Your Church Hyped on Online Learning

Getting the ball rolling with online learning and e-formation at your church? Some churches are already technological resources that enhance ministry. These churches often take off with ChurchNext classes enthusiastically.


Others need a little more time, though. For these churches, this might be your experience: you tell your congregation that this great new resource is available. You’re hyped. The clergy and staff are hyped. The congregation is interested. You add classes, let people know that they are available, and wait for the flood of emails to begin.Here’s what you get.


Click on me.

If the above scenario describes your experience with launching ChurchNext or other online ministry opportunities in your congregation, we have some tips for getting things going with more energy.

Start with group classes. Many people who launch ChurchNext expect individuals members of the congregation to use it on their own, simply because they are interested. Some do, but we have found that starting by having members of the congregation use group classes is a better way to get congregations accustomed to using online educational material. Once they have taken group classes in adult formation, Bible study, or through some specific ministry and have some awareness of how the classes work, they are more likely to use classes, both in ministries and as individuals.

Assign an administrator. Particularly during the first year, it can help to have one person who is assigned to communicate with the congregation about ChurchNext offerings.


Who, me?

Assign a ChurchNext administrator — it can be an enthusiastic lay person, a seminarian, the Christian education director, or one of the clergy — to become aware of the classes that ChurchNext offers and to communicate with the leaders of different ministries about classes that can support their work. This person should be aware of what, generally, is going on in the church and be willing to talk to people about how classes can enhance various ministries.

For example, the administrator can communicate with the leaders of the lectors, of the Altar Guild, of Vacation Bible School,  of Eucharistic visitation, and of any other relevant ministries to let them know that ChurchNext offers training in working with these ministries. Or say that your church begins to work with a refugee family. The ChurchNext administrator thinks, “Hey, isn’t there a class on refugees?” and gets in touch with the head of that ministry about utilizing Responding to Refugees with Allison Duvall For Groups .

The time commitment for this job isn’t high — it will start with some talking and emailing, but communication needs should reduce considerably as parishioners and church leaders become more aware of ChurchNext as a resource.  Most congregations maintain an administrator, however, to continue communication as needed, so make sure to find a new administrator if the first one moves on.

Coming Next Week: 3 more tips on getting your church hyped on online learning. In the meantime, for more information about launching ChurchNext at your church, check out The ChurchNext Launch Plan.




10,000 Students and Counting

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The first image in the first course we ever launched: How to Forgive with Dr. Virginia Holeman.

Back in the summer of 2013, ChurchNext launched its first courses. We wanted to give people a unique opportunity to learn and to talk about matters of faith with Christians in our own congregations and across the world. We wanted to make available to anyone who cares to learn the wisdom of today’s Christian thinkers. We wanted to use the technologies available to us today to encourage people to deepen their engagement with their faith.

As of this week, 10,000 students have registered with our platform. Actually, with the two who registered the other day, we’re up to 10,003.

10,003 people who have found this opportunity and used it to learn more about our shared

The first line spoken in the first class we ever launched--If you've had a frontal lobotomy, it's possible to forgive and forget. You forget a lot of other things too.--Dr. Virginia Holeman (2)

The first words spoken in the first class we ever launched.

faith. 10,003 people who have been touched by new ideas, who have discussed topics that they might not have engaged otherwise. That’s exciting.

We believe that we are doing God’s work when we create these classes and let you know about them. We believe you are doing God’s work when you engage them and use them to grow in your faith.

We thank you for joining us in this ministry. We thank our instructors for offering their time, talent, and ideas for us to share with the Christian community. We invite you to keep growing with us as we work together with the grace of God to create a better and wiser world.



Just Launched: What Is Christian Mission? with Ian Douglas

We just launched What Is Christian Mission? with Ian DouglasWhat Is Christian Mission? with Ian Douglas For Individuals and For Groups.

Christian mission has evolved over the years. The words “Christian Mission” conjure for many a picture of a church outpost in some part of the world remote to Western culture, with missionaries attempting to convert the locals to Christianity.  The definition of Christian mission, however, according to Bishop Ian Douglas, is very different today.

Bishop Douglas has written and edited four books and numerous academic and popular articles on the topics of mission, the missional Church, contemporary Anglicanism, and world Christianity.  He teaches a contemporary understanding of Christian mission, defining the practice according to God’s mission to restore humanity into a right relationship with God, with one another, and with creation — not according to various churches’ missions to spread their Christian beliefs and build churches. We do mission by “reconciling all people to each other and God,” and we can do that in our neighborhoods, the next town over, online or abroad.

This class addresses the question of what it means to practice Christian mission through examining the development of mission over the ages, discovering God’s mission, and discussing in depth the ministries in which we are commissioned to participate as part of our baptismal covenants.

It is an idea class for people who want to understand more about Christian mission in the twenty-first century.

For a preview of the class, please click below.


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