The Unite Curriculum
In Ephesians 4:1-6 the Apostle Paul urges the church to live a life worthy of the calling we have received. He implores the church to be humble, gentle, bearing with one another in love. And he challenges the body of Christ to make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit of the Lord through the bond of peace. This text reminds us that we are one body, there is one Spirit, and we are all called to one hope. We are called to unite around our one Lord, one faith, one baptism that is all through our one God and Father who is over all and through all.
What is the true purpose of this unity? It is by our unity that we will flourish in our calling as the church to go deeper in Christ and further in mission. We are called, as “mission friends” to unite in peace, for the world, around the purposes of God. When our churches follow Scripture’s lead and unite around these purposes, we give the Holy Spirit opportunity to continue the work of transformation in our lives and position the church to make a transformative impact on the world. In the spirit that we are better together, and with our youth as our inspiration, may we all unite around these purposes and grow more into the likeness of Jesus Christ. May God receive the glory.
How it works
The Unite curriculum aims to give your church an opportunity to walk through a six-week journey of discipleship uniting around five specific biblical purposes: strengthening and being the church our call to be disciples loving mercy and doing justice serving globally, and being servant leaders. Each week will also reference practical initiatives of the ECC’s five mission priorities that local Covenant churches can be involved with. The sixth week includes the all-church project Refugee Journey that your congregation can engage in together, along with the rest of the Evangelical Covenant Church, as a larger family.
Each week of the curriculum contains five components: a sermon outline, an adult Bible study, a youth ministry sermon outline, a youth small group study, and a children’s ministry option. Our hope is that each church will tweak, adjust, and add to the content as needed to adapt to your ministry context.
The six-week plan
United in peace, for the world, we are called to strengthen the church
Scripture: “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:1-5).
Focus: How do we live a life worthy of the calling we have received as the church? God’s people are called to be the unified church, bearing witness to the matchless love of Christ. This week we will discuss why are we called to be the church, how are we called to be the church, and how are we called to strengthen the church by making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace for the sake of our united mission.
United in peace, for the world, we are called to Be and make disciples
Scripture: “Jesus called out to them, ‘Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!’ And they left their nets at once and followed him” (Matthew 4:19-20).
Focus: As the church, we are called to be disciples who make other disciples. We are called to both follow Jesus and to help others follow him, and we do this together as a community. Throughout the Gospels we discover how diverse the group of early disciples was—from tax collectors to Zealots. This calling to follow Jesus together so that we may help others follow Jesus extends to the church today. We are called to unite in peace, for the sake of the world to mobilize a multiethnic movement of disciples who make disciples across all ages.
United in peace, for the world, we are called to love mercy and do justice
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings” (Isaiah 58:9-12).
Focus: What kind of people are we called to be together? What kind of disciples are we meant to be? We are called to be a community of disciples who love mercy and do justice. Scripture says that the Lord’s heart breaks when injustice of any kind happens in this world. Because mercy and justice are near to the heart of the Lord, they must also be near to the heart of the church. When humanity suffers injustice, the church is called to stand with those who suffer and to advocate for them in a way that honors our holy calling of seeking good for the world. Only then will we flourish as a people through whom God works to “rebuild the ancient ruins” and redeem his beloved creation.
United in peace, for the world, we are called to Serve globally
Scripture: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
Focus: Not only does the church receive the gift of the Holy Spirit who draws us together around the purposes of God, but the Holy Spirit also gives the church the mandate to build the kingdom of God in all contexts. We are called to unite around this mandate to leave the our individual communities, and together bring the good news of Jesus Christ to the entirety of humanity—from our next-door neighbors indeed to the ends of the earth. We need the power of Christ to do this together as a united community; at Pentecost, we see the Holy Spirit uniting a diverse community together in power to reach a diverse world.
United in peace, for the world, we are called to be servant leaders
Scripture: “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you” (John 15:12).
Focus: As we make disciples, love mercy and do justice, and serve globally, Jesus calls us to do so as servant leaders. Jesus, the ultimate servant leader, admonishes his followers to display the same grace-filled, patient, and deeply caring love to others that he showed everyone he encountered—both those who followed him and those who were not yet followers. This scandalous love is at the heart of servant leadership. As the world becomes increasingly complex, post-Christian, and numb to the things of God, Jesus-followers are called to display a radical love. We must love each other as Christ has loved us.
learning about, experiencing, and acting on the refugee crisis in the world. The final week of the curriculum is focused on an all-church project connected to the Covenant’s work with refugees both internationally and locally. Here we have a chance to live out the purposes we have been discussing for the last several weeks in a very specific way. The Refugee Journey project will help raise awareness and lead to a better understanding of the refugee crisis in the world, as well as invite the church to be more involved in caring for those who have been displaced from their homes during this crisis. This is a powerful way to finish our work in this series as we practice the opportunity to unite in peace, for the world.