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.
- The best teaching experiences include activities and group interaction.
- A curriculum is just one part of a comprehensive discipleship strategy.
A good curriculum is an important part of a discipleship strategy, but it is not all of it. As we think about our call to disciple kids we have to think beyond curriculum. Discipleship takes the form of living life together side-by-side, participating in small groups, gathering in worship, and much more. A good curriculum can go a long way in your discipleship efforts, but it cannot cross the finish line by itself.
This means that we need to think about how the curriculum we are using complements our greater discipleship efforts. It’s not all up to the curriculum, as important of a role as it may play. But before we can consider that, we really need to be clear of what discipleship is.
In his book, The Drama of Doctrine, theologian Kevin Vanhoozer argues that Scripture should be read more like a drama—like a script intended not just to be read, but acted out. I like that analogy. Our goal is not to study the Bible to learn facts—although they are important. Our goal is to study the Bible as our script pointing us to what Jesus has done and what we are to do now in light of what He has done. This means that we need to consider carefully how the gospel affects how we live today in our unique context. That, to me, is a great way to think of discipleship. Discipleship is not about just learning data. Neither is it about just behaving in a set way. It is about knowing Christ and understanding the heart of the gospel such that we might be able to live in any and every context in accordance with God as we bring Him glory.
Do you see why a curriculum cannot be mistaken for a comprehensive discipleship strategy? It can only be one part of such a strategy because as we talked before about there being no perfect curriculum, your context is unique. And that unique context requires discipleship that cannot rest solely in a curriculum, no matter how good it might be.
So as you consider the curriculum you use, recognize its strengths and weaknesses. Recognize where it helps your context’s discipleship efforts and where it does not. Be aware of other ministry efforts (such as VBS) that cover the areas of discipleship the curriculum does not. Above all, be clear of any unique role the curriculum you use plays in your discipleship efforts.
Questions for reflection
- How do you see the curriculum you use integrating into a larger discipleship strategy? Are there any unique aspects of discipleship that the curriculum and your Bible study time alone can fulfill?
- Do you see yourself as a discipler of your kids? Why or why not?
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.