Just Launched: Updated Version of Advent for Families with Heath Howe

We just launched an updated version of Advent for Families with Heath Howe For Individuals and For Groups.

About the Course

The Season of Advent may be the one time during the entire year designed for us to stop — to reflect, wait, be truly still. Advent for Families offers ideas for intentionally and peacefully celebrating this liturgical season, in ways that embrace the joy and fun of the holiday season without losing sight of the real meaning of Christ’s nativity.

Advent teaches us how to model faithful observance for our children without having to reject popular culture entirely.  The Rev. Heath Howe, rector of Church of the Holy Comforter in Kenilworth, Illinois, offers ways to incorporate parties, cookie-baking, and the magic of Santa Claus into a time of preparation and spiritual growth.

The Rev. Heath Howe

Each of the four lessons in this course teaches us about Advent–its significance, meaning, and rituals–while offering concrete practices for its commemoration. We learn about Advent wreaths and calendars, ways to bring Advent into our daily lives and homes, and themes to focus on as we prepare our hearts and lives for Christ’s birth. This course is one that will help families find greater joy and peace in the weeks leading up to Christmas, and offers opportunities for lifelong learning and growth.

What Does “Updated” Mean?

Just as books with high-quality content need to be updated occasionally, some of our earlier courses do as well. When we relaunch a course, that means we have reviewed its video content and find that it remains strong and relevant, but the accompanying materials (introductions, discussion questions, supporting materials) could benefit from an update, either to remain consistent with what we’re doing now in terms of style or content or because references we made might have started to feel dated. When we find a good course that needs a little routine maintenance, we update it and re-launch it so you know it’s been reviewed and revised to remain current and helpful.

We hope you’ll take advantage of this unique Advent offering. The course is ideal for families and children’s ministries. For a course preview, please click below.

Advent for Families

Heath Howe

As you develop your family’s Advent rituals for this year, consider utilizing Advent for Families with Heath Howe For Individuals and For Groups.

The Rev. Howe is the priest in charge of Family Ministries at the Church of the Holy Comforter in Kenilworth, IL and a contributing writer for Vibrant Faith@ Home. In this class, she offers valuable suggestions for ways in advntwrthwhich families can experience a fun and holy Advent season together. The class includes suggestions for ways to anticipate the coming of Jesus together through daily rituals, including a bonus page of ideas, and links to online resources. The Rev. Howe also offers guidance on how to handle with grace the consumerism that surrounds families during the holiday season.

We hope that this class helps guide your family’s Advent experience this year. To learn more about the class, please enjoy this preview.

Screenshot 2015-12-01 11.04.18


Introduction to Advent with Tim Schenk

Tim Schenk

Today, as individuals, families, and congregations prepare to experience Advent, we are launching anew Introduction to Advent with Tim Schenk For Individuals and For Groups. The creator of the extremely popular Lent Madness devotional and writer of Dog in the Manger: Finding God in Christmas Chaos, one of Tim’s great gifts as a priest is helping Christians experience church seasons with energy and devotion. His class is a great resource for people who want to experience a holy Advent.

Advent can be tricky. We want to wait with Mary, look at the stars in wonder with the wise men, hold our breath in anticipation of the miracle that we know will come to Bethlehem. At the same time, parties and parades go on around us and the temptation to spend, spend, spend meets us every time we step out the door or take even the tiniest peek at the internet. How can we reconcile a holy Advent with the holiday season? Tim has some thoughts on this point and some excellent guidance on Advent in general — why we do what we do in church; how to focus our energy on participating in these rituals of waiting for Christ’s birth.

As you consider how you will experience this unique season in your home and in your church, consider using Tim’s class. If you would like to learn more, please enjoy this preview.

Screenshot 2015-11-22 09.07.01



New Course: Advent for Families with Heath Howe

Heath HoweOne of the easiest ways to teach our children about God comes during the Christmas season, when images of Christ can frequently be found. However the busyness of the season can keep us from taking full advantage of this teaching moment. In this course, youth and family minister Heath Howe shows us some practical ways to commemorate this blessed time of year.

For many of us the rush up to Christmas is the busiest few weeks of year.

Yet it is also often the holiest – and can be the most spiritually memorable and formative for families.

Filled with Santa Clauses and holiday parties, what are some ways we might live faithfully through this sacred, yet highly secularized season?

In this class, Heath Howe leads us in a helpful discussion about:

  • Why we should celebrate Advent as a family
  • Consumerism and Advent
  • What are the Advent themes
  • Advent in the home

This class perfect for families who are looking to learn more about how to incorporate Christian practice in the home.

Click here to learn more about this class and how to take it.

The Rev. Heath Howe is an Episcopal priest serving a congregation in Kenilworth, IL. She is a contributing writer to Vibrant Faith at home. You can read more about her here.

Preview to Advent

AdventWe know that you are planning ahead and may be wondering what you want your ChurchNext school to focus on during the season of Advent. It is a little over two months, we wanted to give you a ‘heads up’ on what we have planned specially for Advent and what courses we already have that you might want to use during this season. Stay tuned for more details as we get closer!

New Courses

We are going to be launching new courses just for Advent! One course is an Introduction to Advent and another is how to make Advent a holy time for your family.

Introduction to Matthew

If you are using the Revised Common Lectionary, our Gospel lessons beginning in Advent will mostly come from the Gospel of Matthew. As a way for your congregation or group to learn a bit about the Gospel before spending the next year with it, you may want to encourage your schools to take the Introduction to Matthew.

For Families

As families gear up for the holiday season, they may be wondering what they can do during the season to make is special, to mark it as different, and how to start a new practice. We would encourage you to use the course “Start a Family Devotional Time,” with Anne Kitch. This course will help you take practical and meaningful steps toward enhancing your family’s spiritual journey.

Another course that will help your family discover or rediscover ways to engage in holy practices each day is “Developing Holy Habits” with Valerie Hess. Raising  children who will be inspired and nourished by their faith is one of the most important jobs parents have. In this course, noted author Valerie Hess takes us through a number of disciplines that can benefit our children.

Grieving Well

Holidays are difficult for people who have had a death in the family or those who grieve each holiday because they miss people whom they love but see no longer. In the course “Grieving Well,” Chaplain Andrew Gerns tells us what grieving well looks like. He walks us through the four tasks of grief, and gives us helpful tips and strategies for getting over loss. And he tells us what positive and negative signs look like and how to address them. This course is perfect for those who are getting through loss, as well as those who care for others who are grieving. (This course will launch this coming Sunday, September 29, 2013.)