Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe…Does your decision process for choosing curriculum sometimes feel like a shot in the dark? Maybe this describes your experience from time-to-time…
The curriculum’s selling points won you over, but when you dove into the content, the theological truths were weak and lacked practical application. As a result, you feel like your students’ walk with Jesus wasn’t really impacted because the power of the gospel didn’t advance through the message. (Sigh…)
Whether for small group, Sunday school, Wednesday night or camp—there’s literally curriculum for everything. So how do you go about choosing (or adapting) the right material for your small group leaders, for large group teaching or for camp?
Try This! ❯
Do a quick review of your lesson plan for this week. Does it include:
1) meaty theological truth
2) a relational evangelism element
3) a real life practical application?
1. Raise the Bar
First and foremost, don’t buy into the widespread misconception that teenagers are not developmentally mature enough to explore challenging, meaty, theological truth or accomplish anything significant for the Kingdom.
Kids are hard-wired to want to be in the game. From a young age they want to understand and be involved in what’s going on. Just look at any preschooler for proof with their ever present “Why?…Why?…But why?” or “Me! Let me do it!” They want to be more than spectators, and along the way, they begin to develop their own competency and autonomy.
The same can be true for the teenagers under your spiritual care. By challenging them with theological truth and getting them out of their seats and into the action, you’re nurturing their spiritual development and helping them own their faith.
2. Invite them to Join THE Cause
Commitment to a cause is a powerful thing. Your students need to be challenged to live for a cause that will change the world and will have an impact that lasts for all eternity—THE Cause of making disciples who make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20). You want to do all you can to put a sizeable dent in their spiritual apathy, and let them see how they can make an impact and live a life that counts for more than just the accumulation of stuff or the pursuit of personal pleasure.
The curriculum you choose (or adapt) can play a critical role in motivating and mobilizing your students for this Gospel Advancing call to be Christ’s ambassadors to their friends who need Jesus. So the process of actively, purposefully making disciples who make disciples needs to be at the heart of your decision-making process when choosing curriculum. Search out curriculum offerings that incorporate a relational evangelism focus, or fold it in yourself—each and every week.
3. Real Life Application
Every curriculum lesson you teach should include a real-life practical application that moves your students past being “hearers only, to being doers of the Word”—so purchase or customize what you use so that it always incorporates a call to action. Teens are still “wet cement,” so it’s the perfect time to build the expectation that when they learn something about following Jesus, it should actually impact how they do life! You have an essential part to play in setting them up for a lifetime of being doers! So take these words from James 1:22-25 to heart, and build this truth into your teenagers understanding of what it means to be a Jesus follower:
But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.
Give them an actual application that you expect them to try to do…then follow up the next with some accountability—in small group time or via text, or whatever works for you.Learning about following Jesus should actually impact how we do life! Click To Tweet
Gospel Advancing Curriculum
Not every curriculum you come across is truly Gospel Advancing, so do your homework. Dare 2 Share’s web store can help you in this area, since all the curriculum you’ll find there includes either a direct or indirect faith-sharing focus, theological heft and a practical application.
Prayerfully make sure that every decision you make related to curriculum is filtered through your mission and vision. Seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance as you make your decisions.
Face Time Counts!
Take your teaching time in front of your students seriously. Plan ahead, so you have time to get comfortable with the material and to build in your own relational evangelism emphasis and practical application in those cases where your curriculum doesn’t already provide those elements. Plus, being prepared well ahead of time will give you some margin to focus on other things that come up during the week unexpectedly—as they always seem to in youth ministry! Scrambling for a lesson isn’t fun AND likely isn’t as impacting for your students, so don’t do it.