Focus: Our churches could play a revolutionary role in addressing our world’s most pressing problems. We can lead the way in caring for the planet. We can address the needs of the poor. We can become agents of peace. And we can stand for the dignity of all people, beginning with the most vulnerable. In this eight-week intensive, we will help your congregation develop a vision and a plan for organizing your congregation to be a community of spiritual activists (aka disciples), engaging in good work for the common good, inspired by faith, hope, and love.
Project: Participants will focus on four primary topic areas (people, poverty, planet, peace) and design a two-year implementation plan for their congregation to become a sustainable catalyst for positive change.
Pre-Course: Orientation Module introduces participants to the technology, schedule, instructor, coaches, and criteria for certification. It also provides cohort members an introduction to one another and leads participants in setting personal goals.
Online Gathering with Instructor & Coach: Orientation/Introductions
Session 1: From Organized Religion to Organizing Religion
What’s the difference between organized religion and organizing religion? What are the critical global, national, and local problems organized religion can address? How can a deepened understanding of Jesus’ core message of the Kingdom of God empower and align us for sustained, lifelong spiritual activism? Why do progressive churches need greater clarity and confidence to move from their current institutional stasis to a movement-oriented way of being?
Session 2: Church for the Planet, Part 1
Why is our love for specific places and elements of creation so essential to love for the planet as a whole? Why might the spiritual approach of churches for the planet be important, even essential, to the scientific and political work of restoring the planet from human degradation? What specific first steps can congregations take this Sunday to become churches for the planet? What denominational and other resources can be accessed to support churches for the planet?
Online Gathering with Coach/Project Selection
Session 3: Church for the Planet, Part 2
How can your congregation establish smart goals and a wise plan to grow as a church for the planet? What elements of that plan can be initialized now? This year? In the next 3, 5, and 10 years?
Session 4: Church for the Poor, Part 1
How has the verse “the poor you will have with you always” been abused to create complacency about poverty in our churches? What is the relationship between charity and justice? What are the four core dimensions of poverty? How have Christian churches been engaged - for better and for worse - with economic issues in our history? How is poverty related to racism? What do Mary, Jesus, and other biblical voices have to say about poverty? What commonly held misunderstandings of poverty are you prepared to rethink?
Online Gathering with Coach
Session 5: Church for the Poor, Part 2
How can an understanding of “right livelihood” change conditions so that poverty can be reduced? What are the behind-the-scenes causes of poverty that we must take more seriously? How can our churches best equip people to be “church for the poor” in relation to the complex, inter-related causes and effects of poverty?
Session 6: Church for Peace, Part 1
How does the myth of redemptive violence function in your church? How can it be challenged and overturned? What are the essential elements of nonviolent resistance and nonviolent communication? How can our churches become teaching stations for this vital knowledge and know-how? How can the “seventh story framework” help you teach others about “the things that make for peace?”
Session 7: Church for Peace, Part 2
What are the personal, local, national, and global dimensions of peacemaking that you want every member of your congregation to own - and practice? How can your congregation establish smart goals and a wise plan to grow as a church for peace? What elements of that plan can be initialized now? This year? In the next 3, 5, and 10 years?
Online Gathering with Instructor & Coach/Presentations
Session 8: The Progressive Wing of a Multi-Faith Movement
How can your momentum be sustained over the long haul? How can you avoid burnout, discouragement, compassion fatigue, and bitterness? How can your congregation join with other faith communities across denominational and religious silos to build a multi-faith movement for the planet, the poor, and peace?
Summary/Review, self-evaluation, course evaluation