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.

UPDATE: We have launched a curriculum for people who take this course and want to start a GPL ministry at their churches. Check it out here.

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.

Live Class: Introducing Mark with Vicki Garvey Begins Thursday

As you may have already learned, ChurchNext will offer a FREE, live course called Introducing Mark with Vicki Garvey as a Good Book Club offering during Epiphany. We welcome participants from across the world, whether or not you are participating in the Good Book Club formally — it’s a great chance to learn more about Mark’s Gospel.

Vicki is a respected teacher and author and former Canon for Lifelong Education at the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago. She has led workshops across the United States and internationally on Bible study, and we are very blessed to have her teaching this class. Vicki has already taught live courses on the Gospel of John and the Gospel of Matthew. Her Gospel of Matthew class was so popular that participants went back and viewed recordings of her Gospel of John class! We are blessed to have another chance to work with her.

Here’s how it works: from January 7 through February 11, every Thursday night at 8 p.m. E.S.T., participants will click on a link to a Zoom classroom to listen to Vicki Garvey’s talks about Mark’s Gospel and to ask questions/participate in discussion. Course materials will be available on an online ChurchNext course. We will also post recordings of the class meetings on the course page, so don’t worry if you can’t attend every class meeting.

You can take this course with others from your congregation or on your own.

Sign up here, and we look forward to seeing you on January 7!

ChurchNext Lenten Resources

As you begin considering ways to approach Lent of 2021, we’d like to make you aware of the following resources from ChurchNext.


Your church and families within your church may find the following classes helpful during Lent:

Introducing Lent with Maggi Dawn: This class offers people new to the church and anyone who wants a refreshed understanding of the season an overview of Lent. Author, priest, scholar, and teacher Maggi Dawn discusses Lent’s history in the church and ways that we observe and commemorate the Lenten season today.

Lent for Families with Kim Baker: In this class, longtime educator and priest Kim Baker discusses ways that families can celebrate a rich Lenten season together.

Walk in Love Part 2: Marking Time with Scott Gunn and Melody Shobe: This course is part of our Walk in Love series. It goes through the church year as a whole, including a lot of focused discussion about Lent and Holy Week. This class is another one that people new to the church might find particularly useful.

Making Sense of the Cross Parts 1-3: These three courses  offer David Lose’s examination of how to understand Jesus’ death on the cross in the context of our life experiences (part one), the gospel accounts of Jesus’ life and death (part two), and theological interpretations (part three).


ChurchNext offers several 5-week themed curricula and course series that we hope will enrich Lenten observances for both congregations and individuals.

The Five Core Practices of Being a Disciple with Christopher Martin: Do you long to grow in your relationship with Christ? Take a ‘lenten challenge’ and join The Rev. Christopher Martin on an inspiring and informative journey, in which he offers insights into discipleship that can be truly transformative. In this course he touches on various habits and disciplines that can easily be incorporated into our walk with Christ.


A Spring in the Desert with Frank and Victoria Logue: This curriculum, based on Frank and Victoria’s book A Spring in the Desert, examines the seven Christian virtues through the lens of the desert. Using historical accounts of the desert fathers and mothers, meditations based on plant life and imagery of the desert, and scriptural references to the desert, Frank and Victoria walk participants through the Lenten season.



God the Son: In this series of courses, scholars, authors, and theologians discuss the life of Jesus and particularly his death on the cross in terms of how different people have understood it over time.

  • In the first course, Who Is Jesus?, Jason Fout examines the life of Jesus, who he was, and how the church understands him today.
  • In the next three courses, Making Sense of the Cross parts 1-3, David Lose examines Jesus’ death through the lens of human experience, gospel accounts, and theological interpretation.
  • In the final course, Exploring the Biblical Christ, a variety of scholars discuss each of the evangelists’ and St. Paul’s understanding of Jesus.



Daily Spiritual Practices: In this series, priests and authors discuss various ways to make spiritual practices part of our everyday lives.

Lent for the Family: Looking for family resources  to celebrate a holy Lent? This series offers five courses on building spiritual practices on a familial level.

  • In Lent for Families, Kim Baker suggests creative ways for families to experience a holy Lent together.
  • Allison Liles talks about teaching about religion and worshipping at home (both during and outside the context of the pandemic) in Teaching Kids at Home.
  • Approaching Scripture offers Vicki Garvey’s excellent introductory approach to understanding scripture as a library of different kinds of resources that can be very helpful in teaching older elementary-aged kids, middle-schoolers, and teens about scripture.
  • In Start a Family Devotional Time, Anne Kitsch describes ways to do daily family devotion with the family.
  • Finally, in Holy Habits for Children, Valerie Hess offers ideas on helping children build basic Christian spiritual practices into their lives.

Just Launched: Teaching Kids at Home with Allison Liles

We’ve just launched Teaching Kids at Home with Allison Liles For Individuals and For Groups.

As Covid-19 continues to preclude group events, we miss corporate worship and the service of the Holy Eucharist. They are a critically important part of our lives as Christians. But if the pandemic can bring us closer together in our family units and get our children engaged in seeing how adults in their lives live our their faith in good times and bad, we can find some good in this experience. It may offer us a chance, when worshipping together again in person, to integrate our faith more fully into our daily lives; to weave it through all that we do.

In this class, Allison Liles offers guidance on how to make time at home, both during and after the pandemic. She covers biblical history of teaching kids at home and emphasizes reasons it’s more important now than ever to live out our faith in our families. That means teaching kids about prayer, worship, and the Bible. She talks about effective ways to create worship spaces at home that bring worship into day-to-day activities rather than keeping it a Sunday event. She discusses daily prayer and Sunday worship as well, and how to make those engaging for kids. She also offers resources for parents to use to find creative ways to bring Christianity into their families’ daily lives.

This course is ideal for parents trying to engage Christian education and worship at home, both during and after the pandemic, and for Christian educators who want to support them.