When people ask me what I do for a living, I tell them that I help produce Bible study curriculum. But of course, it is so much more than the way I feed my family—it is a passion and a privilege, one I seek to steward well. With that deep care for curriculum in mind, I want to share six things that I wish every kids leader knew about curriculum. Knowing these things, I believe, can transform a ministry, which more importantly, can transform lives.
So far we have covered:
- The goal is to teach the Bible, not the curriculum.
If this list were in the order of importance, this one might be at the top. If you are a teacher, your goal is not to teach the curriculum you use. I know that sounds odd, but it’s true. Curriculum is a tool to teach something else of far greater importance: the Bible.
Do you see how critical of a distinction this is? No curriculum is the inspired Word of God; only the Bible is. No curriculum is infallible; only the Bible is. No curriculum reveals God’s plan to redeem people to Himself through Christ Jesus; only the Bible does. Hear this clearly as coming from someone who helps produce curriculum: We don’t want anyone leaving a gathering saying how great the curriculum is; we want them leaving saying how great the Bible is, and even more so how great the Author of the Bible is.
Practically, this means that a teacher’s focus, from start to finish, must fall squarely on the Scriptures. If it is any good, the curriculum a teacher uses will be a great help for him or her to do this. But it is just that: a help.
My suggestion is that kids leaders begin preparing each week by reading the Scripture from the Bible, not the leader guide. And don’t just read the main text of the session—what is often called the focal passage. Many curriculums will provide a suggested background passage which gives fuller context. Read that at least. The goal should be to be conversant in the surrounding context of what you will be studying and sharing that week. And you will want to do this early in the week, allowing time for what you read to seep down deep into your mind and heart.
Then it is time to dive into the leader guide and see how the curriculum presents the Bible passage. If an important point you discovered in your reading of Scripture is not emphasized strongly enough or missing altogether in the curriculum, build that into what you plan on covering with your kids. You know your kids better than whoever developed your curriculum. Follow the Spirit’s leading as you prepare.
Then, when you gather, be sure to have your Bible out and make it your goal to use it more than your leader guide. Your kids need to see you drawing deeply from the life-giving waters of God’s Word. Tangentially, this is why it is so critical that you encourage your kids to bring their Bibles too. The best Bible study does just that—studies the Bible, not a curriculum.
Questions for reflection
- What habits and practices might you need to develop or strengthen as you prepare for and lead Bible study sessions?
- Do your kids all have Bibles? Do you have a few Bibles on hand for guests or for when kids forget theirs? If not, how can that be addressed?
Next time: There is no perfect curriculum.
Brian Dembowczyk is the managing editor for The Gospel Project. He served in local church ministry for over 16 years before coming to Lifeway. Brian earned an M.Div. from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a D.Min. from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his family live in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.