There are church-wide campaigns and then there are church-wide campaigns. That is, some campaigns are bare bones and only include a small group study for adults and outlines of the weekend message series. Others (like 40 Days of Purpose) are very robust, providing the full range of curriculum (from Preschool Children all the way to the adult small group study) along with a book or devotional (like The Purpose Driven Life) and weekend service resources, as well as detailed implementation guidance.
The Story, a new church-wide campaign from Zondervan has a lot going for it. There are a number of great aspects that deserve mention. There are also a couple things that should be pointed out and taken into consideration.
Five Key Advantages
First, the premise for the study itself is a good one. Taking its cue from Zondervan’s best-selling abridged chronological Bible, the vision and purpose of the campaign is to draw your congregation, your small group, and your family into the grand, unfolding story of the Bible as one sweeping narrative, arranged chronologically from Genesis to Revelation. Just the idea of laying out the individual stories of the Bible in a way that allows God’s story to be understandable and memorable to whole congregations is very compelling.
Second, the DVD-driven adult curriculum is pitched very well for adult participants. An engaging combination of interesting opening segments and short teaching overviews (10 to 12 minutes) by Randy Frazee (Senior Minister at Oak Hills Church) holds attention very well. It feels very much like you’re listening to a story. Very importantly, it’s a story told in a way that doesn’t assume prior knowledge.
Third, with fully available curriculum for children (preschool, early-elementary and elementary) and teens, The Story can be a church-wide campaign. Each of the four developmental stages have age-appropriate, complete curriculum for the entire experience. The Church Campaign Kit includes a CD-ROM for each of the three children’s stages with printable activity sheets, lesson plans and leader resources, kid skits or puppet scripts depending on age group. A DVD-driven Teen experience is also included in the Church Campaign Kit. Featuring stop-motion artist videos, teacher’s guide and student materials, there is everything you need to help children and teens experience God’s great love by bringing His story to life.
Fourth, there is an age-appropriate version of The Story (the abridged chronological Bible) for each age group; allowing entire families to engage in the same between weekend experience…in preparation for the next part of the story.
Fifth, everything you need to pull off this church-wide campaign is included on the Resource DVD (or available online in the Online Resource Library. Although I’ve just begun poking around in the password protected Online Resource Library, I can tell you there is a LOT in there. Campaign preparation, weekend service ideas, extra resources for kids, teens and adults, communication ideas and way more than I can describe here. This is a fully loaded campaign.
Considerations to Note
There are a couple factors that should be noted up front. First, while The Story can be done in three distinct sub-campaigns, it is ideally a 31 week experience. In my view, there’s upside and downside to a 31 week campaign on this subject. The upside is that you know where you’re going for the better part of a year. The downside is exactly the same thing. You are pretty committed to a predetermined direction. Not a bad thing. Just much longer than the normal 6 week ideal campaign length that I usually recommend.
Second, like 40 Days of Purpose, when you legitimately launch a church-wide campaign that has small group curriculum for adults and Sunday School curriculum for children and teens, as well as a book of some kind that participants need in order to participate…you know there’s an expense that will be born by someone (either the church or participants). My experience is that a well-planned, well-executed church-wide campaign can have a powerful impact on both the church and the community and makes a very sensible budget item. But…that is an item that will need to be addressed at the beginning of the journey.
The Story could deliver quite a church-wide experience. Especially in a culture with very, very low biblical literacy…might just be a goldmine.