‘Ventures’ Program Aims to Serve More Congregations with Donation-Based Model

By Adam Pracht

Since it started four years ago, the “Ventures in Christian Discipleship” program at McPherson (Kan.) College has focused on providing small church congregations with useful, affordable education. With the course offerings in 2016-17, Ventures is about to become even more affordable and, therefore, even more useful.

Karlene Tyler, director of alumni and constituent relations, said that the upcoming courses will be available to attendees by donation, rather than on a set per-person or per-church fee as in previous years.

The hope is to serve church membership of all ages and education levels to offer them new skills and understanding that will lift up their home congregations.

“We want to be of service to the greater church by offering these presentations to people, not based on the ability to pay,” Tyler said, “but based on the quest for knowledge, sharing, and serving congregations.”

For those who want to attend an online Ventures course for continuing education credit, a minimal fee of just $10 per course is all that’s required.

This year’s courses will include classes on congregational ethics, an in-depth look at the book of Chronicles and the Gospel of Mark, and going beyond Sunday school in the development of a church’s spiritual education.

Although the classes are relevant to congregations of all sizes, the 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.

Class focuses are in:

— positive envisioning of the small church,
— spiritual nurture/training,
— human justice and world issues, and
— small-church functions/how-to issues.

Ventures receives significant financial support from McPherson College, as well as guidance and resources from the Church of the Brethren’s Western Plains District, Northern Plains District, Missouri/Arkansas District, and Illinois/Wisconsin District, as well as the Plains to Pacific Roundtable, and other individual donors.

All courses are online and simply require an Internet connection and web browser. A high-speed Internet connection and externally-powered speakers are recommended for the best experience. All times listed are in Central Time. To learn more about Ventures in Christian Discipleship and to register for courses, visit www.mcpherson.edu/ventures .

— Adam Pracht is public relations coordinator for McPherson College.



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