Now is the Time to Address Racial Justice

Given the events of Charlottesville, VA and beyond we in the church have a stellar opportunity to organize some healing conversations.

White nationalists carry torches on the grounds of the University of Virginia, on the eve of a planned Unite The Right rally in Charlottesville

As public interest pans to the nagging racial inequities and injustices, here are some ChurchNext resources to help us organize helpful conversations and hopefully positive changes.  For ChurchNext fans, you may remember we recently produced an entire series on the topic. Thanks to the work of Trinity Wall Street in New York, and their 2016 conference, Listen for a Change, we were able to assemble a helpful series of online learning classes

These include Spirituality and Racial Justice with Michael Curry, available in two formats, For Individuals and For Groups.

There are four more classes that are equally helpful:

Whiteness and Racial Justice with Kelly Brown Douglas, available in two formats, For Individuals and For Groups;

Racism and Racial Justice with Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, in both For Individuals and For Groups formats;

Reparation and Racial Justice with Jennifer Harvey, in both For Individuals and For Groups formats

Theology and Racial Justice with J. Kameron Carder, in both For Individuals and For Groups formats.

We join the vast majority of Americans in their downright hatred for racial injustice and pray that we who follow Jesus may be better equipped to address this pressing issue.

Announcing Another Free Big Class…

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America’s Theologian and Social Activist to Teach Free, Online Course

“Faithful Dissent:
Loving Our Way into a Brighter Tomorrow
with Ed Bacon and Stanley Hauerwas”

Open to anyone in the world September 11-25
Register Today

August 21, 2017, BLOOMFIELD HILLS, MI – On September 11-25, 2017 a free, worldwide, online course will be offered to the world. Ed Bacon, author and former rector of All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Pasadena, CA, and Stanley Hauerwas, a Duke University ethicist whom TIME Magazine called America’s theologian, will teach a free, online course called Faithful Dissent: Loving Our Way into a Brighter Tomorrow with Ed Bacon and Stanley Hauerwas. Students will be able to sign up for free and take this 45-minute, pre-recorded course with thousands of students around the world, anytime for a two-week period.

“We live in increasingly divisive times,” says Bacon, “As Christ’s reconcilers in the world, we are called to act in ways that bring Christ’s love for the marginalized into the public sphere.” Bacon, the retired rector of All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California, led his congregation to take political action on many issues. This contrasts with ethicist Stanley Hauerwas’ who says dissent is primarily a stance Christians take in opposition to the world. “Christ calls us to be witnesses,” he says, “this is how the world knows it’s the world.”

“Faithful Dissent” is a series of video lectures, quizzes, and discussions aimed at helping us learn how to faithfully disagree. No special software is required. It will take an average learner about 45 minutes to complete. Registration is free and open to all. Click here for more information and to register or go to > Menu > The Big Class.

You can register for the course right now, but it will not be available to take until Monday, September 11. It will remain open and free through Monday, September 25 – that means you can take it for free anytime, 24/7, during that time period. If you register today we’ll send you an email to remind you.

This course comes to us free thanks to the generosity of: The Episcopal Church, Forward Movement, FORMA,  Duke Divinity School, and ChurchNext.

Want to take The Big Class with a Group?

We want to help!  So we’ve assembled some materials to assist you in publicizing and leading this class in a congregational setting.  First off, we have a guide for you, it’s called a Launch Plan for Congregations. In it you will find helpful information to assist you leading this class in a small group setting.

Also, you may want some help publicizing The Big Class, so we’ve put together this  Poster, and Bulletin Inserts.  Let us know if there’s any other way we can help by contacting us at

Another Free ChurchNext Course: What Would Martin Luther Do Today? with Lutheran Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton

Jesus is inviting the Church to reform.

On the 500th year anniversary of Martin Luther’s historic reform work, the Presiding Bishop of the Lutheran Church (ELCA) is inviting the world to commemorate the life, legacy, and relevant teachings of reformer Martin Luther by taking a free, 45-minute, pre-recorded online class. Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton is a speaker, teacher, and spiritual head of 3.5 million Evangelical Lutherans worldwide.


Her class, What Would Luther Do Today? with Elizabeth Eaton is rich in resources and inspiration and will be offered for free to all January 16-30. You can register for this course right now by clicking here.

“Jesus is asking the Church to pay more attention to the issues of poverty, climate change, human rights, and ecumenism – and Martin Luther offers a profound message to us in this regard,” says Eaton, “My hope is that Christ will use this class to inspire and invigorate Christians to follow Jesus more closely, engage in positive social change, and enter the next 500 years with a renewed faith in God’s grace and providence.”

In this course, students will learn more about Luther and make relevant connections that can lead to transformation.  The class is a series of video lectures, quizzes, and discussions. No special software is required. It will take an average learner about 45 minutes to complete. Registration is free and open to all. Click here for more information and to register .

This course is made possible by the generous support of 1517 Media, United Lutheran Theological Seminary, and ChurchNext.

Want to take The Big Class with a Group?

We want to help.  So we’ve assembled these materials to help you publicize and lead this class in a congregational setting.  These materials help you lead this class in a group setting including a Poster,  Bulletin Inserts, and a Launch Plan for Congregations.

This Lent, Teach Your Congregation How to Share Their Faith

Evangelism is about to get easier.

As mainline denominations re-discover the importance of forming Christians who know and share their faith, some of our brightest theologians are developing new ways tk-carlson-newo help believers get there.

Announcing a brand new formation curriculum to help mainline Christians discern their faith and more easily talk about it. It’s called Speaking Our Faith™.

Based on the doctoral work of The Rev. Dr. Kit Carlson, this intensive, five-week course is designed to help participants discover and become confident in their faith, as well as develop tools to authentically share that faith with others.

“We mainline believers have a faith within us. However we’ve not always been given safe spaces to ask questions, make connections, and form vocabularies that helps us authentically articulate our beliefs. Speaking Our Faith™ uses pointed questions in safe, small group environments to help us come to know and share this intimate part of ourselves.” says Dr. Carlson.

Speaking Our Faith™ invites small groups to come together once a week for five weeks. Each session lasts 90 minutes and includes a video presentation followed by small group discussion. A robust Leader’s Guide takes leaders step by step through the five week journey. Participant Guides are also included for everyone taking part.

“Vibrant mainline Christianity is evolving into a Christ-centered, Christ-sharing environment,” says ChurchNext founder Chris Yaw, “And we’re thrilled to work with Dr. Carlson to help share her groundbreaking research and communication techniques. with others.”

Speaking Our Faith™ will be available for purchase and preview in time for Lent, 2017 for $99 per congregation or $49 for subscribing ChurchNext congregations. For more information contact us at

Introducing New Presiding Bishop Michael Curry to Your Congregation

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North Carolina bishop Michael Curry was elected with great excitement, fanfare, and majority – by General Convention here in Utah. He will lead The Episcopal Church for the next nine years. Those unfamiliar with him, his preaching, and his Jesus-centered approach to his ministry are in for a treat. He is dynamic, charismatic, and brimming with infectious hope.

Presiding Bishop-elect Curry is an early ChurchNext supporter who teaches a class for us that is an ideal way for you and your congregation to get to know him.

It’s called ‘How to Be a Crazy Christian with Michael Curry’ and it is available in two formats; For Individuals which is ideal for a person to take by themselves on a tablet or laptop, and For Groups which is ideal for Sunday forums, Bible studies and other group gatherings.

This is a course with a warning label: All who enter here, expect to be transformed. Michael Curry is an inspiring and enthusiastic reformer with a clear call to reinvigorate the Church. Many people have experienced Christ’s transforming power through Bishop Curry’s ministry – you may be next.  Here’a  video preview:

Increasingly Secular in Person, Religious Online

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Here’s a look at our latest infographic.  We put it together in light of the new and comprehensive Pew Research report, gauging the religious habits of U.S. citizens and analyzed this alongside the 2010 research report, Searching for Salvation: An Analysis of U.S. Religious Searching on the World Wide Web by Dr. Bernard Jensen and others.

What caught our eye is that, while self-identification as ‘Christian’ continues to drop precipitously, the number of searches for religious topics apparently doesn’t change much. We know that the majority of those who check the religious preference box ‘none of the above’ are not atheists or agnostics but are perhaps better understood as soft secularists, people who believe in God, pray, and are certainly open to spiritual community. How well congregations understand and adapt to this will have a profound affect on our future.

We produced it in time for the e-Formation Conference going on this week at Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, VA. There are some amazing free resources coming out of this – all will be posted on their Pinterest page by the end of the week, fyi, #eform15.

Remember the Poor at Advent: Resources from ChurchNext

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Welcome to this season of preparation that points us past the halls of power and affluence and into a stable where a lowly manger harbors the hope of the world.

Our Savior was born into an incredibly unjust society. He dedicated his life to changing that. And calls us to do the same.

ChurchNext and Trinity Institute have teamed up to offer an Advent resource that can help our congregations learn more about economic injustice in our world and, perhaps more importantly, do something about it.

Four online classes are suitable for the four weeks of Advent, here are the titles and instructors:

Economic Inequality with Julio Murray, Anglican bishop of the Diocese of Panama
Christian Responsibility with Rachel Held Evans, Evangelical blogger
Educational Inequality with Nicole Baker Fulgham, Education advocate
– A Christian Response with Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury (Releases 11/23)

Each course takes an average student 45 minutes to work through and includes video lectures, quizzes, discussion questions, and downloads. They are suitable for personal and group use. Individual courses are $10 and unlimited monthly subscriptions are $15. ChurchNext congregational subscribers have these courses available to their communities on their release dates.

Tim SchenckIntroducing Advent with Tim Schenck

We are also greatly joyed to bring you a wonderful, and wonderfully entertaining, introduction to this holy season in the words and wit of the ineffable Tim Schenck (who actually paid us to preface his name that way).

As we know, Advent is a season of great anticipation both inside and outside of the Church. While the world around us shops, cooks, and prepares for December 25, Christians have their own way of anticipating the birth of Jesus.

In this class, Episcopal priest and author Tim Schenck will open up our imaginations to the magic of this holy time of year. In this class, we will learn:

  • What is Advent?
  • What are the themes of Advent?
  • Main characters of Advent
  • How should we observe Advent in Church and at Home

Tim Schenck is the author of a newish book with our partners Forward Movement, called A Dog in the Manger. This course is appropriate for those who are new to the church year, as well as those who are familiar, but are looking for a refresher.

ChurchNext Partners with Trinity Institute: Creating Common Good Online Courses

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The popular contention that ‘the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer’ is a troubling notion to many people – and you may have wondered: How do Christians begin to address the pervasive issue of economic inequality?

In January, 2015 Trinity Institute will sponsor a conference called Creating Common Good in which informed voices from several disciplines will wrestle with this issue.  The goal is to provide hopeful, practical tools that you can use in your community to make a positive economic impact.

Part of this conference will include a first-ever partnership with ChurchNext that will produce online courses on conference topics that anyone can take. These courses will be released November 2, 9, 16, 23. Each online course will include video presentations, quizzes, discussion questions and downloads. They are suitable for a four-week Advent study.  Instructors for the online courses include: The Most Rev. Justin Welby (Archbishop of Canterbury), Bishop Julio Murray (Bishop of Panama), Rachel Held Evans (Evangelical author), and Nicole Baker Fulghum (Children’s advocate).

“For many years Trinity Institute has sought to be more than a conference, to be an agent for transformation,” said Bob Scott, Trinity Institute Director, “That’s why we’re committed to providing formation resources for use in local faith communities, and why it’s so exciting to be working with ChurchNext. We’re blessed with a powerful and thought-provoking group of speakers, and the cutting-edge work ChurchNext is doing with the pedagogy and delivery of e-courses will help to bring them to an even wider audience. The interactivity among the ChurchNext e-course, our website, and the January live conference provide multiple ways to enter and become engaged with one of the great justice issues of our time.”

ChurchNext founder Chris Yaw added, “This is a terrific way to share the assembled wisdom of this conference with the world. We are thrilled to be on board with this event.”

These courses will take an average learner about 45 minutes to complete. No special software is required. Individual courses are $10 and unlimited monthly subscriptions are $15. ChurchNext congregational subscribers will be able to begin offering these courses to their congregations on their release dates, November 2 (Income Inequality with Bp. Murray), 9 (Christian Responsibility with Rachel Held Evans), 16 (Public Education with Nicole Baker Fulghum), and 23 (Payday Lenders with The Most Rev. Justin Welby).

 Trinity Institute is an annual conference, now in its 44th year, that equips clergy and laypersons for imaginative and catalytic leadership. Trinity Institute conferences present emerging and inclusive theological perspectives and engage participants in inquiry, dialogue, and reflection. Participants from all faith traditions are welcomed. ChurchNext creates online Christian learning experiences that shape disciples. Along with our partners we are devoted to helping people grow in their Christian faith, improve their lives, and better the world.

New Features Added to ChurchNext

One of the goals we work toward is to help the local church recapture it’s traditional place in society as a ‘go-to’ place for religious education – a place where the religiously curious can find reliable answers to life questions. This is why we build online schools for congregations – allowing local congregations to offer classes in faith that take advantage of the three attractive pillars of online learning: expert teaching, convenience, and affordability. That said, we are continually working to make this experience the best it can be – for learners and congregations. Today’s post announces a just-launched upgrade that allows our congregational subscribers better ways to connect and keep track of the students in their schools.

Activity 1


We’re thrilled to offer details on this new feature – that will help our congregational subscribers better monitor the activity of the students in their schools. Simply go to the ‘Manage School’ tab and you’ll find a new tab on the left called ‘Activity.’ Click there and you’ll be able to access an incredible amount of information organized just the way you want to see it.

Start by hitting the ‘All Activity’ button at the top.  Here you can segment by Question, Answer, Completed Steps, New Students and All Activity.  Then hit the ‘for every’ tab and that allows you to segment by hour, day, week, and month.

Activity 2

This update also means you can also monitor activity in a specific class more effectively.  Just click on the class, then navigate to the ‘People’ tab in the upper right. Here you’ll be able to segment activity in the same way, using the ‘Viewing’ and ‘for every’ drop down menus.  You’ll also see an updated ‘Progress Report’ next to ‘Activity’ which allows you to view, quite quickly, the progress your students are making.  Also, notice that the ‘Class Settings’ button has been made more conspicuous and is located under the ‘+Invite Someone’ button in the upper right.

This update opens up a brand new horizon for monitoring all of the activity you deem as important with just a few clicks.  It’s another one of the updates we’re rolling out in the weeks ahead to help you make better disciples in your congregations.


ChurchNext and Augsburg Fortress Partner to Shape Disciples

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ChurchNext and Augsburg Fortress have teamed up to bring the popular animate series to an online learning environment. Presenters include Brian McLaren, Lillian Daniel, Nadia Bolz-Weber, and Mark Scandrette whose video presentations anchor the learning experience and combine with quizzes, discussion rooms, downloads, and other features to help individual and group learners more deeply contemplate some of life’s most important questions. Check out the online courses here.

“This top-selling curriculum has already touched and inspired the lives of many,” said ChurchNext founder Chris Yaw, “We are proud to be able to extend its reach and allow online learners a platform to grow in faith.”

There are three animate series to date which have been launched in DVD format by Augsburg: animate: Faith, animate: Bible, and animate: Practices.  ChurchNext has launched its first online learning series, animate: Faith here. The online learning versions of animate: Bible will launch in early 2015 and animate: Practices will soon follow.

The animate series has been described as “designed to energize conversations about faith, with the hope that this will spark new life in churches”.  Casual but ordered, funky yet substantive, modern yet based on and exploring age old truisms, this series wants to “animate” all our senses. Participants are encouraged to create through journaling, creative writing and graphics; whatever method helps to explain or enhance the conversation.

Presenter Mark Scandrette says, “Christianity is not just something to believe, it is a way of life, and that by learning to follow Jesus’ way, we will experience the rest and become agents of God’s healing in our world.”  animate DVD and animate online are poised to help in this mission by inspiring deeper conversations on faith, deeper immersion into what it means to lead faithful lives in Christ, and helping students become more fully those agents of God’s healing in our world.