Listen and learn with your neighbors in the wider community. Move beyond assumptions to real stories, real faces and shared learning. Develop a common view about things you are seeing and learning. Act on what you are learning. Partner with neighbors and God by focusing on the real ministry opportunities. Important Product Note : This is a digital product that you have to print yourself. There is no physical product.
Cru: Joining In God’s Story | Cru
You can get a FREE sample lesson by clicking here. An Illustrated Invitation Curriculum is a week, no-prep curriculum that highlights biblical stories of joining God at work in the world from the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament. It is designed to draw children ages preschool to fifth grade into conversation with biblical stories, showing them what God is doing, and inviting them to consider how to join in that work. If you want to learn more, you can find out more details here.
It is divided into these three modules:. Twelve no-prep lessons covering stories from the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament. You will also receive the 8. Note: The coloring pages included in the curriculum can only be printed out as 8. For multiple reasons — perhaps because its liturgical tradition and hierarchy better transcend national-cultural identities — it has seemed able to weather the unraveling more cohesively than the Protestant denominations.
For the Euro-tribal churches, the story of this unraveling goes back to the middle of the last century. Sociologist Hugh McLeod explains the lead-up to the breakdown this way:. In the s and s it was still possible to think of western Europe and North America as a "Christendom," in the sense that there were close links between religious and secular elites, that most children were socialized into membership in a Christian society, and that the church had a large presence in fields such as education and welfare, and a major influence on law and morality.
The s and s, while influenced by fears of external threats from Communism, were a golden period for these churches.
Joining God in the Renewal of All Things
The West was ready to celebrate, to leave behind the hardships of the previous half-century. Most Protestant churches flourished in this environment, where it seemed just about everyone and everything was Christian. These churches symbolized the public and social conscience of the age.
They were the government, education, economic, and professional leaders of the nation at worship. Young families embraced the new suburbs, churches filled, and denominations experienced their greatest era of new church development. In this milieu these churches can hardly be blamed for seeing themselves as the center of society and assuming their proclamations and actions would lead to the redemption and betterment of society. They pursued growth with gusto, expanding new church development, filling seminaries, and extending corporate denominational structures offering cradle-to-grave, branded programs that branched across the continent.
Donald Luidens paints this picture:. The corporate denomination "metaphor" The wide-open "religious marketplace" in the post-World War II era accelerated the development of this corporate model. Like competing businesses occupying a growing market niche, Protestant denominations around the country routinely perfected their production processes and marketing techniques. In these early years the level of competition was minimal and "success" was widespread.
However, over time the religious marketplace became a crowded one, competition grew and success became elusive, which accelerated the transformation of the corporate denomination. The corporate model fuelled, and was in turn fuelled by, a Christianity that was outward-looking and expansionist. Few were aware of, or prepared for, the earthquakes to come. Just as the young church, after Pentecost, focused on reestablishing God's reign within the narrative of Jerusalem and Judaism and could not see the ways the Spirit was about to unravel most of its assumptions, so the denominations failed to see the massive dislocations into which the Spirit would soon deliver them.
The Protestant story couldn't hold the imagination or desires of post-war generations, so the '60s exploded like a socio-cultural-religious Mt. As McLeod observes: "In the religious history of the West these years may come to be seen as marking a rupture as profound as that brought about by the Reformation. The s was an international phenomenon. Throughout North America and Europe, we witnessed the Baby Boom, rising economic possibilities for huge swaths of the public, the Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War, the Sexual Revolution, the emergence of the self as the central source of meaning.
Along with these came the Human Potential Movement, the Women's Movement, a shrinking world with expanded religious options, the end of National Service in the United Kingdom, the expansion of higher education from elites to the middle classes, the suburbanization of society, and the proliferation of new media. The changes went on and on, and their impact was massive and unexpected. Like the Babylonian captivity or the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE, these events resulted in massive dislocation.
The churches were thrown into a world for which they were unprepared. The natural instinct is to fix what is broken and to get back to the stability and predictability they had known. But that world had been torn up.
By the late s numerical growth for the mainline denominations had come to a screeching halt. Despite warnings from observers of culture such as Peter Berger and Gibson Winter, the churches were largely unprepared. They continued expanding national staff, building national headquarters, and marketing their branded programs. Protestant churches have only continued to lose their place in the emerging cultural milieu.
Joining God Where He is Working
If anything, the change has picked up pace, unabated, over the proceeding decades. Despite claims that conservative, evangelical churches had found the secret to growth, there is now sufficient evidence that the primary reason conservative churches grew was defections from mainline churches. The conservative Protestant churches have experienced their own unraveling tsunami, just a little later. This unraveling has manifested most keenly as a progressive loss of connection between the churches and the generations that emerged from the s onward.
Here are some illustrations:. Ultimately, it is my strong contention that the Spirit has been at work in this long unraveling. The Spirit is inviting these churches to embrace a new imagination, but the other one had to unravel for us to see it for what it was.
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In this sense the malaise of our churches has been the work of God.