“Ten years ago, we would’ve had to purchase or borrow a video from each speaker, if such resources even existed. ChurchNext puts it all in one place for streaming when and where we want it.”
What is ChurchNext?
ChurchNext is an online platform that provides short online courses for adults wishing to learn more about Christianity and the church. Individuals can register and enjoy ChurchNext on their own, but the real strength of ChurchNext is how it encourages and helps churches to become learning communities. Check out the ChurchNext introductory video below which describes how churches can create a library of ChurchNext courses to offer their congregations.
Who is ChurchNext for?
The target audience is adults, but older teenagers may find the ChurchNext course material accessible and interesting. ChurchNext comes out of the Episcopal tradition, and some of the courses reflect that. On the other hand, many of the topics are broad in scope, and many of the course presenters represent various Christian denominations.
How Does it Work?
The basic idea is that users subscribe to ChurchNext for a monthly rate, and then they can take as many courses as they wish. Each course is comprised of video segments, discussion questions, text-based summaries, and opportunity to post questions or comments. The courses are not “live.” Rather, the videos and supporting text have been created, edited, and formatted for a smooth flow. Users can “take the course” at any time, and go at their own pace.
What are the Videos Like?
Here is an example of a video from a ChurchNext course presented by Keith Anderson.
Churches Can use ChurchNext
Individuals can subscribe and use ChurchNext on their own, but the more exciting (and cost effective option) is for a church to subscribe and then invite members of the congregation to take courses. ChurchNext has even created a group option which supplies leaders guides and discussion guides so that people can gather, take a course together, and interact.
Thoughts from the Center for the Ministry of Teaching
We asked several team members at the CMT to reflect on the value of ChurchNext as a resource for Christian Formation. Here’s what they had to say:
Kyle Oliver, Digital Missioner
“ChurchNext is a great way to bring some external expertise and energy into an adult formation program. What I think is so powerful about the platform is the library of on-demand video content from respected church leaders. Ten years ago, we would’ve had to purchase or borrow a VHS or DVD from each one of those speakers, if such resources even existed. ChurchNext puts it all in one place for streaming when and where we want it.
I think churches need to do some ‘scaffolding’ to help encourage groups to learn together. That might mean watching the videos together at church and then having the discussion live and in person. Or it might mean creating systems where individuals learning at home check in with each other in regular, personal, mutually accountable ways. However churches choose to go about it, they’ll miss out on the opportunity to be formed as a community if they don’t get everyone on the same page.”
Dorothy Linthicum, Program Coordinator
(Dorothy recently created a ChurchNext course on VBS)
“The hardest part of preparing my course on Vacation Bible School planning was limiting the presentation to four short segments. But the format forced me to center on the most important information and to include only the best examples and stories. As for the next step for ChurchNext, the issue is about getting the word out to dioceses and congregations, especially small parishes that ChurchNext offers diverse presenters and topics at a reasonable price.”
“The creator of ChurchNext, Chris Yaw, has a vision to discover and share the wisdom and knowledge of gifted, contemporary church leaders for the sake of making disciples for Jesus Christ. This means ChurchNext is a dynamic and ever-improving resource. Chris welcomes user feedback and seeks collaborators. ChurchNext is a two way street. Build your own course from the extensive library and/or consider becoming an instructor if you are knowledgeable about an area of Christian life and ministry you want to share.”
Did you enjoy this article? Consider subscribing to Building Faith and get every new post by email. It’s free and always will be. Subscribe to Building Faith.