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:
- 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.
Next up …
- The best teaching experiences include activities and group interaction.
Since I already stepped on some toes in the last post, I may as well go ahead and stomp on some more in this one. Here goes. The worst teaching we can do is lecturing. That’s not my opinion; it’s supported by research. Kids learn the least by just hearing. So the best teaching actually occurs as we, as leaders, talk less, not more. That doesn’t mean we should say nothing of course. We have an important role to play and we have to talk to explain God’s Word and lead discussion. But our goal needs to be to keep that to a minimum.
This is why a good curriculum will feature a variety of interactive learning techniques, no matter what age it is designed for—babies through adults. Those discussion questions aren’t filler; they are essential. Those activities are not merely ways to pass the time to fill an hour; they are designed to help kids learn.
As teachers, we need to be sure to guard time for interaction and guard against pride. Pride is what often drives us to want to lecture—we believe people need to hear what we have to say. And again to a degree, that is true—if you have taken the time to work at what you are teaching and being led by the Holy Spirit. But our kids don’t need to hear just from us. They need to hear from one another and they need to share themselves as well. They need to hear, see, write, and do. The more learning styles you can include, the better.
One final word of note deserves mentioning here. No matter what age group you lead, be sure to build in time for rabbit chasing. It’s ok to go “off script” at times. Sometimes those moments are the most important ones your group will experience. They can be divine appointments. Now, we always need to be careful about venturing down frivolous rabbit trails but don’t barricade the good ones too. A sincere question often deserves a sincere response. And one kid’s question is often not unique.
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.