In the early 1970s two seminary professors in St. Louis, Missouri, USA, listened to the plea of some lay Christians. “Can you help us live out our faith in the world of daily work?” they asked. “Can you help us connect Sunday worship with our lives the other six days of the week?” That is how Crossings was born. It is a community of Christians studying both the Word of God and the workplace in order to bring them together, to make them “cross.” Those two professors, Robert W. Bertram (now of blessed memory) and Edward H. Schroeder (now retired), formally incorporated Crossings in the 1980s and further developed their own distinct method, the Crossings Method, for helping people make the connection between Christian faith and daily life. Although Crossings’ official leadership has passed on to the next generation, its ministry and mission remain the same.
As Bob and Ed gained experience through the early years, two Crossings programs evolved. The first was the direct result of the original request. Weekend workshops around the world were geared to assist participants cross the world of work with the Christian faith. As the word spread, hundreds of congregations asked for workshops in their areas and Crossings Community members gladly obliged.
The second program was an outgrowth of the first. Semester-long Crossings courses were offered, some in seminaries and others wherever interested students were found. These longer study sessions ranged far and wide beyond the workplace and into the many areas of the secular world where God’s people live: politics, economics, education, health care, popular culture, family life, the media, technology, etc. However, the goal was always the same, to “cross” world with the Word of God.
Participants often say that the best thing about Crossings is the Bible study method, the “grounding” that anchors all Crossings work. First the Scripture is examined on its own terms, in its literary, historical and cultural context. Then in light of Scripture’s promise to give us everything needed for life and godliness, the text is studied as problem solving literature. What is our problem and does the Bible offer us a solution?
Students do not rest content until they have gotten to the bottom, to what Scripture says is the problem’s deepest level. Likewise, we also look for God’s solution to the problem just uncovered. Christians anticipate, of course, that Christ himself will be at the center of all such solutions, but we let the Biblical witness speak of the Good News in Christ and how He meets the exposed problem. This study mines the depths of the Good News that’s available in the text so that we can meet our problems head-on, cross them with that Good News, and take the solution out into the world for others.
For another telling of the Crossings’ story, from a developmental point of view in the career of Bob Bertram, see his article “A History of Crossings.”