Now entering its third year, McPherson College’s “Ventures in Christian Discipleship” program is providing web-based courses to help provide training to lay leadership in congregations, both large and small.
Offerings for 2015-2016 include everything from dealing with grief to trends in worship, and from the use of technology to human justice issues.
Ventures was established with the purpose “to equip lay persons of all ages and education levels with skills and understandings for faithful and dynamic Christian living, action, and leadership, with special emphasis on small congregations.”
McPherson College values its 128-year relationship with the Church of the Brethren. The college’s identity and values reflect its heritage in the church and our efforts to nurture and maintain that relationship. In an effort to be supportive of its constituent church, Ventures creates an opportunity to respond to congregational needs. It has been a highly effective program, one that is growing and building momentum.
All of the classes have relevant topics for clergy and for congregations of all sizes. However, a particular emphasis on small congregations was chosen because few Church of the Brethren congregations west of the Mississippi River have worship attendance above 60 people. This means that often these congregations cannot afford full-time pastoral leadership and must rely on lay leaders. McPherson College is committed to using its connections and resources to fulfill this critical training need. Classes are designed to highlight:
- Positive envisioning of the small church
- Spiritual nurture/training
- Human justice and world issues
- Small-church functions/how-to issues
Ken and Elsie Holderread are on the Ventures Planning Committee and longtime leaders in the Church of the Brethren. They have participated in every Ventures class offering.
“We find the presenters and their material to be outstanding,” Ken and Elsie said via email. “We believe them to be quite helpful and interesting for participants in congregations of all sizes.”
Ventures receives significant financial support from McPherson College, as well as guidance and resources from Western Plains District, Northern Plains District, Missouri/Arkansas District, Illinois/Wisconsin District and Plains to Pacific Roundtable.
Broad financial support has meant that MC has been able to keep the cost for the online courses affordable – a high priority in the development of the program. Each course costs just $15 per session, per person. A group rate of $75 for five or more participants joining a course at the same location is also available.
To learn more about Ventures in Christian Discipleship and to register for courses, visit www.mcpherson.edu/ventures.