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 kid’s leader knew about curriculum. Knowing these things, I believe, can transform a ministry, which more importantly, can transform lives.
So far we have covered:
- Every curriculum is crafted around a set of core values.
- The goal is to teach the Bible, not the curriculum.
- There is no perfect curriculum.
- Teaching God’s Word takes work.
The points made on the last two posts require this one. Teaching the Bible is not easy, nor should it be really. It takes work. You can’t expect to put minimal effort into teaching and expect maximum impact. Saturday preparation doesn’t lead to the best Sunday execution. I realize that I may have just stepped on some toes here, but there is no way around this. Teaching others is too important—far too weighty—not to talk about this (see James 3:1). If you are a teacher, you need to be prepared to roll up your sleeves and invest time, energy, and effort into preparing to teach.
The best teaching comes from the overflow of our grappling with the text. We take the leader guide and hold it up next to the Scriptures and use it, with the Spirit’s guidance, to discern what God is saying in the text, what it meant to the author and original recipients, and how we are to understand it and live it out today in our context. None of that sounds easy because none of it is. It isn’t meant to be. It takes effort, which is what our God deserves, what our kids need, and what we are called on to do as teachers.
But this doesn’t mean that you get extra credit for working needlessly harder. The old adage certainly holds true: Work smarter, not harder. Here are a few tips to help you do that.
First, do some heavy lifting up front to help you in the long run. We talked about this in the first post, but to state it again, one thing you will want to do (perhaps need to do is more accurate) is take some time to understand the values of the curriculum you are using. What are you after? Again, to call on a popular adage: If you don’t know where you are going, how will you know when you get there?
Beyond that, familiarize yourself with the resource as much as you can. How is it designed? What is the logic and flow of a session? What other items and materials are available for you to use in a session (e.g. posters) and how do you access them? I talk to people all of the time who aren’t aware of the various items available to use each week as part of The Gospel Project for Kids. Know about all the tools that you can have available in your tool belt, why each exists, and how you can use them all.
Finally, know of the extra teaching helps provided for you. Many curriculums provide plenty of additional materials to help prepare leaders. The Gospel Project provides blog posts with additional resources, weekly teacher training videos, and more. These are all provided to help you as a teacher dive deeply into the Bible story so that you can teach each session the best as possible.
Questions for reflection
- What is your normal rhythm of preparing each week? Are you investing well into your calling?
- What additional resources are available to help you that you might not be taking advantage of?
Next time: The best teaching experiences include activities and group interaction.
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.