The Story: A New Church-Wide Campaign from Zondervan

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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.

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  1. Thompson on July 25, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    Is there any way to break it down into something like five, 6-week
    segments?  Like is there anyway to launch with the first quarter of the
    material and then have that be a teaser for groups that would like to
    continue on through the rest of the “year”.

    We are looking for a 6 week campaign, DVD driven, church-WIDE that
    we’re going to launch coming out of a Fall campaign that’s raising funds
    for us to purchase and remodel a building.  (We’re an 8 year old church
    and this will be our first step from rentals to a building!)  So I’m
    just wondering… anything in a box for this particular scenario?

    Thanks so much for your resources!!

  2. Anonymous on July 27, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    Great question Steve. The short answer is that you can do anything. The Story is set up to be done as a 31 week unit or as three separate sections (it’s like 9, 11 and 11). Can you do a shorter one and then let groups choose to continue on? You can do anything. But the challenge will be that the curriculum is available as a 31 week set. There is one DVD and one Adult workbook. For your members to participate, it’d be pretty expensive for a 6 week study, as they’d have to purchase the whole thing whether they did it or not.

  3. HomeSchool on August 24, 2011 at 1:46 am

    Disappointed. Heads up if you order the early elementary curriculum cd—it doesn’t work on Mac. Error that PowerPC no longer supported. I have Intel iMac and Lion OS. Hope they will fix that.

  4. Megan Hoeksema on August 24, 2011 at 2:34 am

    Megan from The Story here – HomeSchool – we are VERY sorry that the CD is not working for you and are looking into that error. I would love to send you the documents so you have access to everything while we work on the error. Please email me at megan.hoeksema [at]

  5. Anonymous on August 24, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    Sorry to hear you had trouble! So glad to see Megan from The Story team jump in with her response. Encourage you to take her up on her offer. I’m sure they’re glad for the chance to help.


  6. Meg on October 1, 2012 at 11:51 am

    Do you know of any churches using this series right now? It would be amazing to pool resources and see how other churches are executing stage design, publication, communication, etc.

  7. markchowell on October 1, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    Only one I know of is parkview christian church in orland park, IL. They may be a good resource for you

  8. Charlie on February 19, 2013 at 8:02 am

    I am a Pastor of Families and Students at Dothan Vineyard Church in Dothan AL. We are in finishing up a year long campaign on The Story. It started with me mapping out a all the weeks inserting off Sunday’s for holiday’s. As we looked at The Story we felt that using it as a year long full church involvement was going to be the direction we were going to go. (yes 1 year commitment. Understand The story has 31 lessons. We started Father’s Day last year 2012. We had all father’s come to the front with their children and I spoke and challenged them each to be the leader of their home and lead their children. We as a church would come along side of them to help their children know more about the Bible. I will tell you when we launched this we did not know what doors God would open. We started in June launching everything with a church wide service “People of the Bible” we had 5 or 6 people in the church dress and learn about a person and the pastor did a interview/QA time with them. I would say that this has been a great curriculum for us. We offer a Wednesday night small group options for adults. We run the children’s ministry on Sunday morning using The Story. We struggled with how to get the whole church involved so we started a pre Sunday morning small group for adults and one for teens. I have to say, that was the biggest surprise for me. I have been here for almost 4 years and I never would have thought a 9:15 time would work well for our church but is has been great. Our pastor preaches on The Story periodically during the Sunday morning service as re-caps or updates. It is now Feb. and we have 7 more lessons in the children and youth and 5 in the and it has been great. Just had a staff meeting and we are trying to find something else that could be used like this and we have not found any curriculum that is as good as this one is. If anyone is considering The Story I would say I don’t think you could go wrong.

  9. markchowell on February 19, 2013 at 8:50 am

    Thanks for the update Charlie! Love hearing how campaigns have worked.


  10. RobinO on April 18, 2013 at 7:41 pm

    Hi! I coordinate the educational programming at our 250 member Presbyterian church in Colorado. We are finishing up The Story (and it has worked quite well for us) in a couple of weeks and we are still praying about and pondering what might be an engaging curriculum after The Story. We have one Bible Study class on Hebrews already going, as well as a midweek Companions in Christ group, an evening small group Bible Study, and we will likely be offering some missional/neighboring materials, but I’d be curious to hear what you’ve found to use in the last couple of months since you posted your comments here on The Story. We’ve had a very lively daytime midweek discussion group using the Small Group materials from The Story, and we would love to keep that momentum going. I’d love to hear any thoughts! Thanks!

  11. Charlie on April 19, 2013 at 9:04 am

    Right now I have planned and implemented 3 different small scale small groups. That will get us through the summer into the first of August. I am still looking and praying for God to open up something that I can launch as a church wide direction. We will be doing 2 video series this summer for small groups. (Grace Card and To Save a life) which are 4 – 8 weeks depending on how you view the moves. (We will watch them as a whole church with popcorn just like a family movie night) We will also start a 10 week small group maybe 3 or 4 on Crazy Love with DVD motivation times from the author Francis Chan. We had such a great year with The Story and God has truly blessed in with His Spirit working in the church. So I don’t want to force or think another curriculum can and will do the same I am just looking to see what is out there. If you have any suggestion I am open to anything. Even if it is couple years old. Since we are a Vineyard church and less than 15 years old we have not done everything that is out there not even close. Good luck at your church and please feel free to talk more and bounce ideas off of each other.

  12. Charlie Herring on April 19, 2013 at 9:07 am

    Sorry this is Charlie… just posted forgot to sign in.

  13. markchowell on April 19, 2013 at 11:16 am

    Hey Robin and Charlie! Love it that you’re here talking about how The Story went and what to do next! That is very cool!

    While The Story is the only study I know that extends through the year that way, there are a number of other options to provide a curriculum pathway for your groups. For example, you might think about a kind of “balancing the purposes” approach (whether you are into Saddleback’s purposes or not), choosing one study that will take your groups deeper into each of the 5 purposes (worship, fellowship, maturity, ministry, and evangelism). Or you might think about the values that your churches have embraced and choose studies that help drive those values deeper into the lives of your congregation.

    Again, I love it that you’re sharing your ideas!