Thank you to everyone who submitted questions during the webinar. We received more than 200! During the webinar, we were only able to get to a fraction of what was submitted, so we created this way to follow up on the rest of the questions we received. The questions are grouped thematically, so that many can be answered together. As lecturing continues to evolve over the coming year, this Q&A section will come down and the information shared below will be moved to other sections within this webpage.
We’d love to hear more from you! Please share your ideas, feedback, and additional questions by sending an email to email@example.com.
Table of contents
This is a valuable question.
Mrs. Eddy specifically requested members of the Board of Lectureship to speak extemporaneously, to adapt their lectures to the needs of the moment, and she herself spoke this way in the majority of cases. Lecturers take this request seriously and pray regularly to fulfill it in their own unique ways.
Being extemporaneous does not mean being unprepared! During the process of developing a lecture, there is considerable prayer and attention given to how the lecturer might explain points about Christian Science to different audiences. Lecturers and the Board of Lectureship office revisit these regularly to continue supporting the lecturers’ abilities to be flexible and responsive to audiences’ needs. The lecturers pray to discern these needs and ways the audiences are most receptive for each lecture they give. Often, this discernment happens during prayerful preparation leading up to the lecture; other times, it happens in the moment based on that preparation.
Lecturers are always strengthening their lectures by living, practicing, and healing with the ideas in the lecture every day. They are regularly thinking through how to apply and explain Christian Science to all kinds of situations. So when they feel moved to exchange an example of healing or update a way of explaining a particular point, that change is based on experience rather than on whim.
The Christian Science Board of Directors and the Board of Lectureship trust the lecturers in their work to do this.
First and foremost with love. A lecture will always include clear explanations of what Christian Science is and what it is not, explanations that strive to show the universal accessibility of the healing power of Christ-love rather than divide the audience into groups of “haves” and “have nots.” Addressing condemnations is more than stating that Christian Science is Christian, rational and proveable, etc. Effectively addressing a condemnation takes place in the love, uplift, and healing an audience member feels as some misconception is moved out of their way. While a particular lecture may focus more on what is true rather than on mentioning many specific condemnations, the lecturer and branch church members should be aware of the concerns of the community and be prayerfully addressing these issues as part of their preparations for the lecture.
This is discussed in more depth in the replay video of the June 22, 2021 webinar, especially during the first 20 minutes.
Yes, that is the goal the collective Board of Lectureship strives for.
Branch churches can communicate with lecturers about what issues or underlying currents of thought prevalent in their communities they are actively praying about. While a specific issue would not be the title or main focus of a lecture, the lecturer will definitely address the issues in prayerful preparation.
Lecturers are also encouraged to adapt the content of their lectures where appropriate to show how the broader healing ideas of Christian Science directly apply to particular issues facing a community. They might choose a healing experience that specifically illustrates how the core ideas of the lecture apply to a particular issue, for example, and then explain that connection.
There are many ways a branch church can address community issues through their own resources, like through Reading Room window displays and readings for Wednesday evening testimony meetings. The lecture clears the way for the community to better recognize a branch church's ongoing prayerful engagement with its neighbors.
For more thought on this, see the replay video of the June 22, 2021 webinar, particularly at time 9:10 and 40:16.Additionally, see Emancipating the race—our collective purpose in Christian Science lectures from The Christian Science Journal, August 2016.
Yes—sometimes a lecturer and branch church might work together to slightly adapt the title or to add a subtitle to make it most useful for the church’s community. The Board of Lectureship often receives feedback on lecture titles. Some feedback praises their clarity, others request more specificity. Since lectures are about what Christian Science is and how it heals, our goal is to help this important purpose come through clearly in the brief space of a title.
For more discussion of this, see the replay video of the June 22, 2021 webinar, starting at time 40:16.
At times in the past, lectures used to be published in different formats, from being in The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Journal, or even printed in a kind of pamphlet form. Currently, the video recordings of lectures are the primary published versions of lectures, although text publications (usually in a distilled form) still happen occasionally. The purpose of a lecture is to clear the road of thought to access the enduring resources made for study in Christian Science, rather than to be a resource for study itself.
It’s a choice based on the preferences of the lecturer and branch church. The purpose is to allow audience members to ask questions they may not have heard being answered in the lecture. The lecturer would then have the opportunity to show how the key ideas of the lecture apply to the questions asked, so that the Q&A acts as an extension of the core lecture content, rather than a separate discussion apart from the lecture.
Most lecture attendees are Christian Scientists, so can the lectures give more depth in their explanations?
There is a connection between the depth and accessibility of the ideas presented in a lecture in order to support everyone attending. Lectures should address human thought, whatever may be a mental roadblock for anyone, whether an attendee is familiar with Christian Science or not.
Individuals in a branch church’s local community desire an understanding of deep ideas too, so the goal is for lectures to explore the depth and uniqueness of Christian Science in a way that’s accessible for anyone. This means giving explanations that make the logic of the ideas clear and provide stepping stones to understand deep ideas and how they apply to our daily lives. Depth and accessibility go hand-in-hand, so, when done right, a lecture doesn’t have to be one or the other.
For more thought on this, see Christian Science lectures: Connecting our communities with a new set of tools for change from The Christian Science Journal, August 2017.
Primarily lecturers will be providing in-person lectures. Churches and lecturers may decide to also offer some kind of online way to access lectures, for example, by providing a high quality live-stream of the in-person lecture, called a “hybrid” lecture, or by posting a video recording of the in-person lecture on the church’s website.
Online-only lectures will be available for unique circumstances where it is not possible for the branch to host an in-person lecture with any of the members of the Board of Lectureship. Like, if there is some sort of emergency and a timely response is needed which precludes the ability of any lecturer to get to the community in-person for the lecture; or the local government of the branch or the lecturer has restricted public gatherings or travel. There are still some places in the world under such public health restrictions.
Much more was said during the June 22, 2021 webinar about the value and vision behind the focus on in-person lectures this year. See the video replay, particularly at time 20:54-33:10, and again at 37:50.
Well, most folks are still walking or driving around town to run errands, conduct business, attend school, meet friends, etc., and wherever people are living and thinking, that’s where the Christ idea will meet them, and do the most good. Think what it feels like to drive by shops where the lights are out during normal business hours; it would be assumed that the shops have completely closed. So, hosting an in-person lecture is one of the ways that a branch shows that it’s open and active in the community.
Of course, a lot happens online within a community, too! So there is much to be said for a branch exploring or continuing online activities. Plenty of people prefer to first research online about a topic, a product, or an organization before checking it out in person. A branch’s online presence can provide its community with stepping stones to explore Christian Science and the branch’s local resources.
Sure, lecturers are open to discuss ideas that branch churches might have, and to experiment sometimes. In some more common examples over the past years, we’ve seen churches and lecturers coordinate to give institutional lectures, lectures broadcast over radio and TV, participate on panels with other local thought leaders, and classroom lectures. Often, these kinds of opportunities—which can vary widely, including in overall length—develop because a branch church has been nurturing particular relationships with fellow community organizations. Sometimes, a certain opportunity might be better served by a talk from the local Committee on Publication rather than a lecturer.
Why are online lectures expensive when there are no personal travel expenses? Do different types of lectures have different costs?
The overall cost of an online-only lecture can be similar to an in-person lecture. The speaker’s fee is the same as for an in-person lecture since the amount of thought and preparation for a lecture in any format is the same. In regard to other expenses, if you need to host an online only lecture for some reason, talk with the lecturer about web technology expenses, the fees associated with a technical assistant (if the lecturer works with one), and whether the lecturer may need to stay at a hotel to ensure a better internet connection.
Through the Manual of The Mother Church, Mary Baker Eddy requested that all branch churches call for one or more lectures annually. In addition, Christian Science college organizations are specifically mentioned elsewhere in the Manual as being able to call for a lecture. Christian Science Societies are not requested to hold a lecture, but are permitted to call for one, and many around the world choose to include a lecture as part of their regular contribution to their communities. Informal groups of Christian Scientists are also welcome to consider requesting a lecture. To explore this idea, they can contact the Board of Lectureship office for more information.
Hosting a lecture is so much more than just a checkbox of duties a church must fulfill to host a human event. There’s an important reason Mrs. Eddy established this requirement to have Christian Science lectures offered to communities where there is a publicly established group of Christian Scientists actively letting their light shine through their church activities and individual healing practices: human thought is wrestling with the problem of being; neighbors are having conversations about spirituality; misconceptions create roadblocks for those who would like to find higher views of reality. This was happening in the 1880s and is still going on today. Churches’ communities are like gardens that need regular weeding of whatever would seem to stand in the way of the good that Christian Science would do. Holding one or more lectures each year is part of that weeding work within human thought to make way for a flourishing garden.
This is discussed in more depth in the replay video of the June 22, 2021 webinar, especially during the first 20 minutes.
Sure. Churches in a particular city or region can be in touch with each other to coordinate dates for each other’s lectures so that the larger community can enjoy lectures that don’t overlap one another, or in order to better share travel costs, or reduce a lecturer's overall travel, etc. Another way to do this is by looking at a lecturer’s calendar on their individual profile page under Meet the Lecturers on ChristianScience.com. The dates and cities where a lecturer is contracted to give a lecture will be listed there.
Another way to coordinate could be for branches to jointly call for and co-host a lecture, sharing the duties and expenses. Each branch church’s membership would fully participate in the preparations for the lecture, including promoting it to their respective local communities and neighbors. Financial contributions alone to another church’s lecture do not equate to fulfilling the Manual bylaw of calling for and hosting a lecture.
Before deciding to jointly host a lecture, the branches should discuss the idea with the lecturer.
If a group of Christian Scientists chooses to invite another type of speaker to share their own ideas on a topic of interest to them, that's simply a different kind of activity and is not considered a Christian Science lecture.
The purpose of a Christian Science lecture is to address and clear away the misconceptions about Christian Science and Mary Baker Eddy within a branch church’s community. Lecturers prepare specifically for this duty. Looking forward to what the movement of Christian Science would most benefit from in years to come, Mary Baker Eddy apparently saw the unique need for Christian Science lectures, and so established this activity in the Manual of The Mother Church as a requirement for all branches.
So many of our members live in different areas, away from the immediate community where the church building is located. How do we participate?
The heart-felt desire to share the light of Christ and Christian Science is an answered prayer. There will be ways to reach the local community where the branch is, as well as where the members live, that are unique to each branch as they pray about fulfilling their role where they are established. Each branch church and each member is needed, valued, and loved, for at the root of a branch church is the expression of divine Love. The love and gratitude for Christian Science healing is why the church is there, in that community. The presence of love for fellow church members and neighbors is felt within a community. In every community there are hearts yearning to feel the expression of divine Love unique to branch churches. It’s the love that holds up Christian Science healing for all.
So, an answer to this question is not so much the many ways various church activities might take shape, but that a church membership loves one another in ever deepening ways. This can open up meaningful paths for a membership to move forward in its expression of love toward its community.
Why is the “lecture year” from July 1-June 30? And why is there a seasonal flow to the lecture year?
Mary Baker Eddy established in the Manual that the election of the Board of Lectureship would be for one year, starting on July 1, and the Board of Directors make this election roughly one month before, on Annual Meeting Day.
Many branch churches operate on a calendar year (Jan 1-Dec 31) or another fiscal year. It’s up to each branch to decide when they hold an annual lecture, knowing that the lecturers’ elections will be current through June 30 of each year.
There’s no requirement to hold a lecture during particular seasons.
There is a lot of helpful guidance and ideas on the Host a Lecture page. Beyond that, because hosting a Christian Science lecture is much more than a human event and must be individualized for each unique community, a lecture needs fresh inspiration from each branch church to offer it to their specific community. A checklist from The Mother Church wouldn’t be as conducive to this individual and fresh preparation.
The basic necessities — secure a public venue, advertise, invite friends and neighbors — are common to all lectures. Each branch church’s metaphysical preparation, prayer for their community, insight as to what public topics condemning Christian Science and Mary Baker Eddy may exist either implicitly or explicitly in their community…these are what will shape this activity into a healing experience to meet the needs of each individual community.
Under Clause 8 of the will of Mary Baker Eddy, there are provisions for different kinds of financial support. See this article, Benevolence Grants, in the June 2021 issue of The Christian Science Journal for more information. You can contact firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
The BoL office has a publicity program providing professionally pre-designed flyers, postcards and other sizes of collateral. Many lecture titles already have these available, and we’re working to prepare them for more titles. Samples are posted under each title on lecturers’ profile pages under Meet the Lecturers, if items are available.
Branches are not required to use these materials. For titles that do not yet have these pre-designed materials or, in the cases where the pre-designed materials are not quite right for a branch church’s use, branches can always design their own. Often, we’ve seen branches pattern their own after the designs we’ve provided—which is great! Why reinvent the wheel?
There are copyright restrictions, governed by US federal laws, that we can’t change. Because of these laws, we must request that churches do not modify or alter the samples or finished materials. BoL does not provide graphic design help to modify the pre-designed materials. Please contact email@example.com with any questions about how to use them.
Some questions have come in about making “turnkey” publicity available, including everything from printed materials to social media ads and more. The BoL program can provide the basic items, such as flyers and web ads that are compatible with social media advertising options, but the branches are responsible for actually placing and distributing those ads to their local communities.
See the accordion entitled “Publicity and Advertising - All Lectures” on Host a lecture for complete details about both the print and online materials currently available.
What kind of information is required to include on a lecture flyer? Can the term “talk” be used to describe a Christian Science lecture?
This link to some basic design tips can give some guidance for creating flyers and other publicity materials.
Less is more is a good practice when designing publicity; it’s easier to read quickly and retain the information. Sometimes, flyers have a lecturer’s full bio, the times of church services, Sunday School, and Reading Room. It’s generally best to leave these details off, focusing only on the lecture. (Additional information can be included on handouts at the lecture or used in a press release to the local media.) It’s also really helpful to post this kind of background information on the lecture event page on your church’s website.
“Talk” vs “Lecture”? In many cases, either could work. The Board of Lectureship office uses “talk” on its pre-designed publicity materials, but then we include “Member of the Christian Science Board of Lectureship” as part of the bio-lines for the lecturer. Including this bit of information ties the presentation (regardless of whether it’s called a lecture or talk) to the “brand” of a Christian Science lecture, and helps the public know that the lecturer is part of a larger speakers bureau rather than promoting him/herself or a personal philosophy or criticism.
Already on the Host a Lecture page, under the accordion “Publicity and Advertising - All lectures,” you’ll find ideas about social media advertising, having a website for the church that also includes information about any upcoming lectures, and using the pre-designed promotional materials as part of online advertising.
The Board of Lectureship is developing new online video content, such as brief video clips that could be incorporated into online lecture advertising ideas. Additionally, departments at The Mother Church are researching how it may support branch churches’ local advertising efforts.
The BoL office can also help a branch church connect with their local media outlets, such as radio or local podcasts, for interviews with their lecturers. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Several creative suggestions came in from folks who attended the Board of Lectureship webinar on June 22. Thank you! Keep them coming!
At the root of this question is the desire to “give a cup of cold water” to the receptive hearts in our communities. They are looking for the refreshment that Christian Science brings and that is available through the members’ healing work and branch church’s activities. The daily prayers of church members for their neighborhoods and towns let in the light into human thought that illuminates the other practical steps for moving forward and blessing the community.
Useful advertising is just about good communication and letting our light shine in ways that will connect with people. Advertising will take the most effective form and yield the best results when it flows from the most prayerful views of the community and a clear sense of God’s action. There are many different ways to advertise, of course: print, radio ads and interviews with lecturers, social media, online community calendars, and more. Community needs and news outlets vary from place to place, so each branch will find unique ways to do this.
What lecturers and churches invariably find to be the most effective method is one-to-one invitations. Often people accept these invitations because they’ve already built an established rapport with the church member inviting them and respect their healing practice, or feel some genuine love and good motives in their interactions.
Other ideas may be to offer Wednesday readings and Reading Room displays on the lecture or on healing ideas addressing community issues. A church might even consider advertising these resources on an ongoing basis. Then, advertising for a lecture fits in as part of the overall church activity. And after a lecture, testimony meetings, Reading Room activities and other services continue to embrace the local community.
What a great question! The world needs those who are willing to share Christian Science.
There actually is no application process for serving on the Board of Lectureship. In order to be considered, one has to have an active public practice of Christian Science and be listed in The Christian Science Journal. Letting one’s light shine in active healing work, as well as through participation in other functions of church, like writing articles, etc., are how we identify individuals who might be able to help with the lecture work.
Lecturers are selected by the Board of Directors and elected for one year at a time. Since there are so many incredible healers and thinkers in our movement, and plenty of ways that each one is needed, one is asked to lecture, not because they are thought to be better or more valuable than any other sincere Christian Science worker, but because they would contribute to the overall diversity of talents on the global Board of Lectureship, including where new lecturers are needed geographically.
More than anything it’s just something that gets prayed about — looking for God’s direction for the right time and placement in developing the Board of Lectureship team each year. That includes regular rotation in office, too, in order to maintain freshness and new perspectives. Serving as a lecturer isn’t really a career move, any more than ushering, or serving as a Reader are — it’s just one way of serving church for a period of time before one moves on to serve in some other role that’s equally as important.
We’re always happy to receive recommendations. The more we can hear from each other about those doing good work who have a mindset for communicating with others about Christian Science, the better informed we are — and that really helps.
It’s also helpful to see that every individual who has the desire to share Christian Science and to live the spirit of the Manual provision for lecturing is needed, and that desire can be put to use in many helpful ways daily, whether someone is currently serving on the Board of Lectureship or not. The majority of our needed sharing isn’t through presentations and public talks, anyway — it’s through the interactions of our daily lives. And, in a way, that’s the fundamental activity that lectures were set up to support in the first place.
From year to year, the number of lecturers may fluctuate for normal rotation in office, and adjustments are always being made to best meet the needs of the fields where the BoL serves. Each year, the lecturers reflect beautiful diversity from where they live in the world, the languages they speak, their background experiences, and their healing practice. We’re always praying about and striving for the highest possible demonstration of this completeness.
How often are new lectures added? When will continuing lecturers have new lectures? When will the new lecturers on BoL be ready to lecture?
Lecturers are not required to write new lectures each year or at any other specific intervals. A rotation of new content is natural and desirable, however, and lecturers can write new lectures whenever it feels right for them to do so.
Lecturers are also encouraged to always evolve their current lecture content because they are daily living, practicing, and healing with the ideas in these lectures. The lecture content should reflect that constant growth and adaptation to meet the needs of each community they visit. So, regardless if it’s a new lecture or a current one that’s evolving, the thought behind the content should be always fresh, always new and inspired, even if some of the words used to express the ideas are similar.
The last year has been quite full for the lecturers and the Board of Lectureship office, with all that was developed in order to give online lectures. While there is still much research and testing going on to understand the new technical needs for giving lectures, we have strengthened our ability to work on new lectures. We recognize this as an issue in the past, and feel that we are staffed now to support this in a better way.
We’re working with the new members of the Board of Lectureship to have their lectures ready just as soon as possible. There’s a lot that goes into the activity. Your prayerful support of the hard work and good effort that goes into the process from everyone involved is most appreciated!
For more discussion on this, watch the replay video of the June 22, 2021 webinar, particularly 40:16.
Sometimes, and we’d like to receive even more. Feedback can take shape in different ways as lecturers develop lectures during the thorough review process. Lecturers and the Board of Lectureship office often also receive feedback from lecture attendees. We’re planning to more proactively solicit feedback in this coming lecture year and have been actively looking at the options for doing so.
It’s true that during the 18 months and more of global shutdown, branch churches saw attendance at online lectures rise significantly. Some churches found ways to advertise these online lectures to communities and regions beyond their own, even beyond their country.
Whereas the responsibility of branches is to focus primarily on their local community, the goal of the BoL office is for the more globally focused outreach to continue primarily through new lecture content that is developed by The Mother Church and made specifically for the web. We expect this will include professionally produced video lectures in different formats and lengths which will be posted both on ChristianScience.com and on the BoL’s YouTube Channel, “Christian Science Lectures,” promoted globally. Branches will also be invited to post these on their own websites, in support of their local outreach, including their in-person lectures.
If a branch church would like to video record or live-stream an in-person lecture in order to better share with their immediate community, the BoL will provide some best-practice guidelines so that the experience for the online audience can reflect the high quality of work that goes into making the in-person lectures professional and accessible. The branch and the lecturer can discuss how and for how long such a recording should be available on the branch’s website.
Hear more about this in the replay video of the June 22, 2021 webinar, 33:10-40:16. Read more about online advertising in another question later on this page.
In one way, that door has always been open through emails, phone calls, and information posted on Host a Lecture. We love hearing from you! Please feel free to contact the Board of Lectureship office anytime at email@example.com or +1 (617) 450-3669.
We’re also exploring ways to stay in touch with the larger field of Christian Scientists and branch churches. There are lots of different shapes these could take. We look forward to all of our future exchanges!