Just Launched: My Take on the Trinity with Wayne Jacobsen

We just launched My Take on the Trinity with Wayne Jacobsen For Individuals and For Groups.

The concept of the Trinity is ancient and fundamental to Church history, but scripture does not offer details about early Church debates on this doctrine. Instead, scripture describes the persons that make up the Trinity, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, as a community within God, in relationship with one another.

In this class, Wayne Jacobsen, an author and spiritual leader who co-wrote The Shack, presents the Trinity, not as a mathematical formula, but as an interrelated community. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three parts of whole, but only exist as God in relationship with each other. Wayne describes how each part of the Trinity holds a specific purpose and how they each can help us enter into life with God. We are always invited if we only have eyes to see, ears to hear, and mouths to ask.

In this course, Wayne takes us on a journey through understanding the three persons of the Trinity, their special purposes and how we can engage each of them in our prayer lives and, in turn, be invited into life within the Trinity, with the Divine.

This course is ideal for anyone interested in learning more about the divine mystery that is the Trinity. For a preview of the course, please click below.

Just Launched: Mary in the Anglican Tradition with Jeff Queen

We have just launched Mary in the Anglican Tradition with Jeff Queen For Individuals and For Groups.

Mary, the mother of Jesus, has a special place in the hearts of Roman Catholics everywhere. But what about in the Anglican Tradition and especially The Episcopal Church? In this course, Jeff Queen, rector of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Fort Thomas, Kentucky, not only offers background on particular devotion to Mary in the Anglican Tradition but also shares his own personal experience with her healing powers.

All over the world there are shrines devoted to Mother Mary, places where her apparition is said to have manifested, and a number of these apparitions have been made official by the Catholic Church. How did this tradition of apparitions start and how many places across the world has she been reported to have visited?

Jeff teaches us that in scripture, Mary, is responsible, if only through encouraging her son, for a number of miracles. She is an abiding presence, ever-supportive and ever-loving. Her reassuring presence has continued beyond her death as she been an important presence post-Scripture in the history of the Church. Mary has appeared to countless numbers of people in places all over the globe, and she continues to heal to this day.

The Episcopal Church has a steady tradition of devotion to Mary and uses prayers written by and to her. There are societies and places dedicated to Mary all over the Anglican Communion. How does this Catholic tradition cross over the line into Anglican and Episcopal communities? How long has a devotion to Mary been a part of these traditions? In this course, Jeff takes us on a mini pilgrimage to Mary through Scripture, prayer, holy sites, and worship.

This course is ideal for anyone interested in developing a closer relationship with Mary, the mother of Jesus. For a preview of the course, please click below.

Just Launched — Surviving Moral Injury: When You Hurt Someone Against Your Will

We just launched Surviving Moral Injury: When You Hurt Someone Against Your Will with David Peters For Individuals and For Groups.

Many people have heard of PTSD — a mental condition that results from traumatic events such as war, assault, or accident. As a culture, we are just coming to learn about moral injury. Moral injury resembles PTSD in that it results from experiencing traumatic events, but it differs from PTSD in that people with moral injury take responsibility for inflicting trauma rather than being on the receiving end of it. In the words of David Peters, who instructs the course, “If we get PTSD from being the ‘prey,’ we get moral injury from being the ‘predator.'”

From an outside perspective, those experiencing moral injury might have done nothing wrong. A person who causes a car accident by making a mistake under difficult driving conditions, for example, has not assaulted people who get hurt — they’ve experienced an accident. A person involved in a war faces incredibly complex moral decisions related to following orders and people’s getting killed. Others may feel that guilt isn’t an appropriate response, but this opinion doesn’t always help a person experiencing moral injury, because in that person’s own estimation, he or she has taken actions (or chosen not to act) in ways that have violated deeply held moral beliefs.

Long-term experience of moral injury may have symptoms similar to those of PTSD, but ways to heal from it differ. In this course, David Peters, a priest, writer, former Marine, and veterans’ advocate who has written and spoken widely about his experiences with moral injury, teaches what moral injury. He talks about how it is misunderstood, how people often experience it, and the best ways to take care of yourself (if you are the person experiencing moral injury) or others (if you are in a support position for someone with moral injury) who have it.

This course is ideal for anyone who suspects they might be suffering from moral injury, for their caregivers, and for anyone who works routinely with veterans, healthcare workers, police officers, and others who face traumatic situations in their careers.

 

Just Launched: Raising Young Philanthropists with Global Philanthropy Leaders Program

We just launched Raising Young Philanthropists with the Global Philanthropy Leaders Program For Individuals and For Groups.

Teaching kids about giving to nonprofits is important step for their journey to adulthood. Global Philanthropy Leaders, a project that originates from St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Ridgefield, Connecticut, teaches youth not only to give, but to invest in people across the globe through lending.

This course is an introduction to the Global Philanthropy Leaders program. The program teaches kids how to loan money responsibly, evaluating investment choices according environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) factors, which measure an investment’s social and environmental impact. It introduces them to a website that facilitates loans to small businesses across the world and funds high school students who want to participate. The students decide where and how to loan the money for which the church has made them responsible. The program’s goal is to help teach skills that build toward the elimination of global poverty.

In addition to teaching responsible giving, this course discusses other benefits of the GPL program: life skills, leadership skills, and reliance on scripture that make a real difference in the faith lives of participants. How can your church teach kids to put money to work that makes this profound change, not only in the world but in the faith lives of teens? That is the question this course seeks to answer, based on St. Stephen’s success with the GPL program.

This course is ideal for churches looking for new ways to incorporate teens into the life of the church. For a preview of the course, please click below.

Just Launched: Using Minecraft in Christian Education with Elizabeth and Joseph Brignac

We just launched Using Minecraft in Christian Education with Elizabeth and Joseph Brignac For Individuals and For Groups.

Minecraft is one of the best-selling games in the history of video games. (Some put it at the top of the list; others, second.) It has been available to the public since 2011 and is still going strong, with 126 million people playing it monthly as of May, 2020. In the world of video games, where games become obsolete within a couple of years, that’s like a 100-year-old athlete winning the Boston Marathon and getting ready to run it again next year.

Minecraft is unique in a number of ways beyond its exceptional, long-lasting popularity. Few games allow for as much freedom of creative exploration as Minecraft. Creative mode in Minecraft allows people to build anything from simple structures:

A simple Minecraft house.

to more elaborate ones:

Imperial Summer Palace in Minecraft. (You couldn’t make anything this elaborate without great expertise and many, many hours to devote to it but it’s fun to see what people can do.)

In this class, Elizabeth Brignac, Senior Course Designer at ChurchNext who has both used and written about using Minecraft in Christian education, and her son Joseph, who has used Minecraft to learn about the Christian faith, demonstrate creative ways in which Christian educators and parents and guardians can use Minecraft as part of a Christian education experience. In the first lesson, Elizabeth goes into the benefits of using Minecraft in Christian education. In the second lesson, she discusses and Joseph demonstrates how to use Minecraft to teach about churches. She goes on to talk about what Christian educators need to get started teaching with Minecraft. In the third lesson, Elizabeth discusses and Joseph demonstrates ways to use Minecraft to build structures and tell stories from scripture. The fourth lesson goes into other ways to use Minecraft to teach about Christianity. An optional fifth lecture talks about using Minecraft in remote learning for Christian education.

This class is ideal for anyone interested in learning new ways to teach kids about the Christian faith.

Just Launched: Citizenship as a Spiritual Calling

Jesus the Homeless. Statue by Timothy Schmalz.

I was hungry and you gave me food
I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,
I was a stranger and you welcomed me,
I was naked and you gave me clothing,
I was sick and you took care of me,
I was in prison and you visited me.’

Matthew 25:35-36

 

We just launched Citizenship as a Spiritual Calling For Individuals and For Groups.

To contemporary, mainline Protestants, the idea that active civic engagement has any connection to spiritual discipline may seem incongruous. The notion that our Christianity belongs anywhere near our politics can even feel suspicious in a country that both over-politicizes religion and demands a separation between church and state. The relationship between our responsibilities as citizens and our Christian practices, in short, is complex for most of us.

In this class, Richard Hoehn suggests that, like it or not, our Christian beliefs should motivate robust political activism in a society governed by the people and for the people. Jesus says that the way we treat the least of his people is the way we treat him and even gives examples: food, drink, welcome, clothing, healthcare, prison. In our system, we decide to what extent the government will provide food security; whether regulations will protect clean water sources; how we will welcome immigrants and refugees; if (and how) sick people will gain access to healthcare; what laws will govern how prisoners are arrested; and how we treat prisoners when they are in custody. The state is the arm of the people. We can’t say that our responsibility to care for one another ends where the state begins when we are the state.

Richard, therefore, asks us to consider civic engagement as a spiritual calling. In his first lecture, he connects Christian values with civic responsibility. In his second lecture, he discusses examples of people living out the spiritual call to active citizenship and describes what that engagement looks like. Next, he suggests ways to build civic engagement as a spiritual discipline like any other spiritual discipline. Finally, he talks about congregations specifically, and how they can be a tool for civil discourse across political divisions.

This course is ideal for anyone interested in considering the relationship between our lives as citizens and our call to follow Christ.

 

Just Launched: Contemplative Knitting with Julie Cicora

We have just launched Contemplative Knitting with Julie Cicora For Individuals and For Groups.

The Church has some wonderful contemplative prayer practices that have been around for hundreds and even thousands of years. Sitting quietly in prayer, walking the labyrinth, praying with beads and other practices are tactile ways for us to delve into silence to discover God.

Julie Cicora has been knitting for more than 50 years. When she discovered that she could connect her passion for knitting with her need for silence in order to deepen her relationship with God, it helped her to develop a consistent prayer practice.

In this course, Julie explains what creating a contemplative practice out of your passion (in this case, knitting) looks like. She discusses best practices for getting started, as well as how to stay on track with your practice when life gets in the way. Finally, Julie connects our practices to the Church seasons and offers creative ways in which we can get in the flow of life with our contemplative creative practices. The benefits of such a practice are manifold: a deeper relationship with God; a pleasurable, tactile practice; and a way to serve others.

This course is ideal for any Christians who like to knit and/or want to learn how to establish a new contemplative practice. For a preview, please click below.

 

 

Just Launched: What Vestries Need to Know About Money

We just launched What Vestries Need to Know About Money For Individuals and For Groups.

The vestry of a church has many responsibilities, including making decisions on all financial and property matters. Every vestry member needs to know about the vestry’s responsibilities for the financial health and well-being of the church for which they are stewards.

Details about payroll, taxes, benefits, clergy and lay compensation, and budgeting all fall under the vestry’s duties. If you have ever served on a vestry, you may have been aware of some of these, but perhaps you weren’t aware of others. In this course, you will learn the important details about managing a church’s finances that fall to the vestry. You will also learn about how duties are divided between the vestry and the church financial staff or officers. For example, the vestry is responsible for setting payroll and benefits, but a financial staff person will actually process payroll. The vestry is responsible for making sure that payroll is paid properly and that income and expenses are compared to the budget, but a bookkeeper will be responsible for creating balance sheets.

Most importantly, you will learn that a church’s budget is a theological statement of a congregation’s ministry and mission priorities. It requires as much attention to detail and care as other aspects of a church community.

This course is ideal for any new vestry member, vestry members who want a refresher on finances, or anyone curious about how church finances work.

Just Launched: Raising Resilient Children with Amelia Dress

We have just launched Raising Resilient Children with Amelia Dress For Individuals and For Groups.

People are looking for hope.

No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, recent years have been difficult. Between the Covid-19 pandemic (and the massive economic pressures associated with it), political disfunction, public unrest, and our alienated culture, many people are unhappy and anxious.

During times of trouble or turbulence, parents have an extra challenge: that of raising children with a sense of stability — providing hope and meaning when the messages that kids receive from the world are far from reassuring.

In this class, Amelia Dress offers guidance in how to raise children who can manage difficult times and retain their hope for the future; a sense that their lives have meaning, purpose, and value. Amelia is a pastor in the United Church of Christ and has written many articles on parenting, as well as the book The Hopeful Family: Raising Resilient Children in Uncertain Times. In her book and in this class, Amelia examines ways by we can teach children that, though our external situations may change, we will always have opportunities to live lives filled with meaning and purpose.

In this course Amelia talks about skills related to open-heartedness: silence and hospitality, by which we learn to welcome the unexpected. She examines skills related to healing: mindful eating and rest, by which we restore ourselves to do meaningful work in the world. She teaches skills related to letting go: forgiveness and blessing, by which we learn to move into the future without staying mired in mistakes and with the power to help others along the way. Finally, she summarizes her main message of hope and the power of sacred stories to help teach children the values and skills we wish them to learn.

This course is ideal for anyone taking care of or working with children and youth — and for anyone looking for hope during a difficult season in their lives.

Just Launched — With Gladness: 5 Weeks of Holy Practices for Disciples

The Rev. Christopher Martin

We have just launched our new Lenten curriculum: With Gladness: 5 Weeks of Holy Practices for Disciples For Individuals and For Groups This 5-week curriculum is based on Christopher Martin’s book With Gladness: Answering God’s Call in Our Everyday Lives (2021). Christopher is founder of The Restoration Project, whose goal is to restore individual lives and communities through seven core Christian practices. One of these practices is listening for God’s call, a practice that many of Christopher’s students have found difficult. Whom does God call? What kinds of things does God call us to do? How should we listen for God’s call? Many people today find the concept of God’s call confusing and difficult.

For this reason, Christopher has sought to teach new disciplines, using new language in relation to the concept of God’s call. In each section, he focuses on powerful words that help us center our ideas. He also introduces new spiritual practices, all relatively small, that build up to help us shift our approach to receiving God’s call. These practices build up to change our approach to everyday life and our understanding of how to move our lives in the direction to which God calls us.

This curriculum teaches these practices over the course of  20 lectures with Christopher Martin of about 5 minutes each, divided into five weeks. Each week covers a different set of practices.

  • Week One: The Work is Very Near You
  • Week Two: Look at Each Face
  • Week Three: Name Each Work
  • Week Four: Use Your Wounds
  • Week Five: Name Your Home

This curriculum is ideal for Lent, but it can be used at other times too — during Advent (with some consolidation) or during Epiphany, for example, or over the summer. In the For Individuals curriculum, participants can take this course at their own pace. Each section consists of several lessons, which include a short introduction, video lectures, self-assessments covering the lectures’ main points, and discussion questions. The For Groups curriculum is designed for groups to meet and study together. It includes a Facilitator’s Guide that allows anyone to moderate the course easily and a Participant’s Guide that includes discussion questions, summaries of the material, and suggestions for further research.

This 5-session course is priced at $79 for non-Congregational Subscribers and $39 for Congregational Subscribers (if you are a Congregational Subscriber contact us at hello@churchnext.tv for your coupon code).

We hope that this curriculum will help you and your congregation learn from Christopher how to listen to God’s call in your life, and how to shift your spiritual practices in ways that free you to answer it.