Following are descriptions of all 16 Crossroads courses. All courses are available in real-time distance learning. In other words, you can participate in any class from your home or office—wherever you are—at the time the class is held.
Our introductory course, Compass, takes participants through two different paths. First, it is a discernment process to help the participant identify their gifts, passion, and style. Through reading, journaling, and a valuable small group process, participants are encouraged to explore, articulate and hone their personal sense of call as a lay person in the church and in the community.
Second, Compass is the place to polish up writing, research, and presentation skills. If you haven't been in a classroom in a very long time, this course will help you get back into the disciplines of learning. If at all possible, take this course early in your Crossroads experience.
How do we as the church interact with the world around us? Beyond seeking new members to work our programs and fund our budgets, how do we develop a new way of viewing those in the neighborhoods around our church? Are we more concerned with gaining members or making disciples? How do we make our church community more visible in our local community? What is the message our neighbors have received with regard to who we are?
Participants work on teams to research and analyze data on a neighborhood. Together they learn to read the community and then present team findings including missional suggestions to share God's blessings with others.
Learn about worship that engages the whole person. Explore drama, art, and other forms of visual worship. Visit local congregations and learn about what they are doing with regard to worship. Plan elements of a worship experience that includes themes from class, visits, and textbooks.
Culture, Change, Communication & Conflict
Get to know these four key components of organizational life and apply them to your church experience. Through studying the five essential parts of culture, we can see more readily how the church excludes visitors and the marginalized.
Explore how a strong culture is both helpful and harmful within a congregation. Understand your role as a leader in helping your church through a change process including aspects of communication and conflict resolution. This course involves a series of small assignments to help you learn how to analyze corporate culture.
Faith Journeys of the Old Testament
A comprehensive study of the books of the Hebrew Bible, the stories of the characters, and how God worked in their lives. Expect to gain a new understanding of some very familiar stories. Projects for this course include two papers that explore personalities and Old Testament stories. This is a great background for any participant.
Mapping The Route
What is theology? What is my personal theology? What do I really believe about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit? Who is God in my life and in the world? This is a discussion-based course welcoming your questions. Through the textbooks, outside sources and instructor-led discussions, come and wrestle with the questions of your faith.
Ministry Journeys of the New Testament
Who are the characters in the New Testament and why are their ministry journeys so important? Trace the lives of the Jesus, the disciples, Paul and the other people of the New Testament. Why are their stories important to our faith journeys? The two assignments in this course allow participants to explore further characters and stories that are of personal interest to them. This is an opportunity to develop solid Biblical scholarship and skills.
Each week we explore a leadership skill through readings and lecture. Then, through teams, each skill is fleshed out in our Congregational Simulation to apply it directly to the life of a fictional missional community. Surveys/info gathering, long range planning, mission statements, team building, Appreciative Inquiry, and other techniques are explored. Participants choose their roles within that community and direct a leadership process. Issues of the missional church are also explored.
In addition to the simulation, participants present a book report on an area of leadership or the missional church. Participants are encouraged to use PowerPoint for this presentation.
My Journey/Our Journey
Experience a deepening of your personal faith journey through readings and classroom activities. Led by a spiritual director, this course is first about our own inward journey and then about how to lead others in that journey within our faith community. A very popular course, one project is on personal spiritual formation and the other is on leading spiritual formation in community.
What are those bumps that snag us as members of a faith community? Road Hazards is a look at congregational ethics. First we take a look at the terms used in traditional ethics studies. Then we explore congregational issues from that perspective including power and control, decision making, church finances, child protection, and character formation. Each participant chooses a contemporary, societal ethical issue and designs a classroom exercise around it, much like they might present it within their own congregation.
Story of Christianity
A lot has happened in the church in the time between Jesus and you. We trace the historical and church structure issues of nearly two thousand years. Who were the key people and what were their ideas that helped shaped the church as we know it today? You’ve heard their names before, but why are they important? We look at the development of the Catholic church, the reformation, the para-church movement, the American denominational system, and the history of Christianity in other countries.
World religions, Christian denominations, and American sects: what's really the difference? Don't we all believe in God in some form? Starting with your own denominational creeds and faith statements, you get the opportunity to share those with others in the class. Speakers come in to discuss Catholicism, Judaism, Islam, and Eastern Religions. In our multi-faith world, it is important to know and understand our neighbors and those whom we may encounter at church or in the marketplace. Participants choose three religions/sects and compare and contrast their traditions and creeds.
Caring for each other is ultimately one of the most important aspects of our Christian faith. Learn how to listen, communicate, and focus on the other person. While this course will not qualify you to be a counselor, it will increase your understanding of homelessness, mental health, death & dying, family systems, issues of aging, and how to access community and government resources. The first two classes focus on how to incorporate spirituality into the caregiving relationship and how to take care of yourself while helping others. The assignments for the course include actual caregiving visits and your reflection on those visits; a very valuable exercise to overcome concerns and to practice in-class learning. The pace is deliberate and reflective, with ample opportunity to process your experiences.
Unpacking the Scriptures—Discipleship
Want to learn about the benefits of and how to structure a small group program in your church? This course is structured like a typical small group experience, with Bible Study, prayer, and teaching incorporated into each class. We discuss topics such as the dynamics of small groups, how to start a program, how to maintain it over time, what resources to use, general small group ministries, and groups that are specific for youth, men, women, missional tasks, new members, etc. Many participants particularly value the small group component of this course.
Unpacking the Scriptures—Teaching
Even if you are not a teacher within your congregation, the understandings of different learning styles, the relationship between age and learning, the importance of identifying teaching moments, and the actual practice of teaching are valuable components of this course. From children's chats to adult education, teaching can take so many forms that require a range of skills.
Unpacking the Scriptures—Preaching
How to take a scripture passage and translate it into a message is only the start. Participants learn about different styles of preaching and techniques for making oral presentations. Listening to guest preachers model those styles and critiquing each other's work are important aspects of the class. An understanding of generational differences is included in this course so that participants will be able to speak to various generational listeners.
Community Missional Experience
In addition to the sixteen Crossroads courses, a Community Missional Experience is required to complete the program and attain the certificate. Placements are from a list of approved local, faith-based social agencies such as shelters and soup kitchens. The Community Missional Experience consists of two parts of at least twenty hours each. The first part is as a Direct Service Provider working with clients such as serving meals or working in the shelter. The second is as an Organizational Observer attending a board meeting and understanding finances including fundraising and grant writing