Curriculum Review: The Kingdom of Justice and Flourishing

I am excited to introduce you to a new curriculum titled The Kingdom of Justice and Flourishing produced by our friends at Center for Transformational Churches at Trinity International University.

The Kingdom of Justice and Flourishing is a collection of six-week, video-based curricula for small groups who want deeper insight on how to shine the light of the gospel into every area of life…

Living by the Spirit as members of God’s kingdom brings Jesus’ holy love into everything we do. Explore the big mission that our gracious and powerful God has for us in his world!

I have reviewed and participated in countless small group curricula. The diversity of content sets Kingdom apart from the competition immediately. This curriculum provides the opportunity for small groups to consider what the kingdom looks like everywhere: for communities, against poverty, on the job, above households, and despite pluralism.

Each section provides written and digital content for six weeks of thoughtful engagement around the following premises:

Does our faith matter to the way we live our daily lives? How does our divine savior-king transform what we do in our homes, workplaces, neighborhoods, communities and nations?

Faith is the foundation, but “getting saved and going to church” is not enough.

Personal holiness is essential, but “give generously and be careful on the internet” is not enough.

How can we give our whole lives to our creator and king? Living in a world of darkness, how can we shine the light of Jesus into everything we do?

Not by putting our hopes in a political program or a worldly ideology that doesn’t flow from the power of God’s love.

Not by building a wall around the church and withdrawing from God’s world, either.

We do it by seeking the transformative power of the Holy Spirit in our daily lives. Living by the Spirit as members of God’s kingdom brings Jesus’ holy love into everything we do. That puts our faith into the public square the right way, and the work of our own hands can be used by God to bring justice and flourishing to our communities.

Each session starts with prayer followed by guided discussion questions to help the focus on the topic at hand. For example, Kingdom on the Job begins :

We’re facing huge new challenges in our workplaces today. Over 70% of workers feel disconnected when they’re at work, or outright hate their jobs. How do we find God in the modern workplace? How can we do our daily work as a calling from the Lord? How do we work with integrity? How do we serve as peacemakers and representatives of Christ in a pluralistic world?

Following the introduction, each session includes a engaging video from a recent faith and work event, many of which are from the 2016 Faith @ Work summit in Dallas, TX.

The study of the kingdom at work discusses the following topics: Beyond Work/Life Balance, Working in Light of the Gospel, Wrestling with God, Transforming Our Work, Created Male and Female, for Work, and Working for Reconciliation. The content is rich enough to provide an in-depth learning experience for any group.

Kingdom for Communities puts forward thoughtful reflections as well:

A thin version of the gospel that doesn’t demand very much from us in our daily lives leaves many people asking: “Is this all there is?”

To experience the fullness of life in Jesus, we must connect Sunday to Monday and live our whole lives in the power of God’s creative and redeeming love.

That means working together with God and our neighbors in our homes, workplaces and neighborhoods to seek the common good and flourishing of our communities.

It’s a challenging way to live, but it’s fruitful and joyous in God’s power!

This section helps the small group explore public discipleship that seeks the common good. This is a very important aspect of the church’s witness to the culture. The topics in this section include: The Church and the Community, Our Calling, In the Image of a Creative God, Taking Discipleship Public, Being the Church as Public Disciples, and Being Public Disciples as the Church. The last section asks questions like:

Local churches sometimes focus on building up church programs instead of on helping people follow Jesus in all their lives. What are some specific examples of how that happens?

On the other hand, people sometimes expect too much from their churches. How might church members be more understanding and supportive of their churches?

When God created us, he gave us the family; when he redeemed us, he gave us the church. How does involvement in local churches add structure to life? How do we benefit from that?

Each section also provides a section detailing resources (written and digital) for the learner to dive deeper on many aspects of the section’s content. I would dare say that a small group could use this curriculum for a calendar year and not exhaust everything that is contained inside.

Along with The Kingdom of Justice and Flourishing, I would heartily encourage you to check out Spirit of Hope, the broader project which this resource is a part of. Spirit of Hope is a project of the Center for Transformational Churches at Trinity International University,  and it provides resources for people seeking gospel transformation in all of life. Please check out their page to purchase the KOJF curriculum, the Spirit of Hope curriculum on whole-life discipleship, and the e-book by Greg Forster The Church on Notice: Overcoming Our Complacency, Consumerism, Idolatry and Injustice with Luther’s 95 Theses.

These curricula are very accessible and thoughtful ways to help your students and parishioners really ask tough and helpful questions in their faith and work integration. I am very grateful for the good work that has been done by the Center for Transformational Churches’ team along with their partners at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, the Oikonomia Network, the Faith at Work Summit and the Pittsburgh Leadership Foundation in producing this very high quality resource.

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