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Curriculum: Choose Wisely

Who’s job is it to research, evaluate and select bible curriculum for your student ministry? In most student ministries the youth pastor is responsible for recruiting, training and nurturing small group leaders who teach biblical truth and exhibit a Christian lifestyle. The tools you select to assist your volunteers and yourself matter a great deal. When you purchase curriculum, don’t simply use it “as is” out of the box. Instead, read through it ahead of time and tailor it according to the individual needs of your students. From the mega-ministry to the mini-mart, someone should be “proofing” what is being served up on the table of truth from the curriculum tool box. A publishing company will never know your students as well as you or your small group leaders. If you have put your curriculum under a microscope you will be well informed and able to comment on any aspect of it. In many cases it’s not so much a trust issue between you and the publishing group as it is a responsibility towards “righty diving the word of truth”. It is also your opportunity to offer customization thoughts/ideas from which your small group leaders can draw from. When you take the time to know what your volunteers are teaching the parents will appreciate it and you will be conveying to your parents important a priority the small group discipleship time is to you. It is equally important that you consider having all your small group leaders using the same curriculum. Doing this allows students to be on the same page and leads your teachers towards a standardized approach in unpacking biblical content.

Consider the FIVE “T”s when selecting curriculum.

1. THEOLOGY: Is it theologically sound? You don’t want to miss the mark on this one. You are the gatekeeper, the filter, and the watchman.

2. TOP DOWN TENETS: Does it match up with my senior pastor and his major theological tenets? While you might think this would not be an issue with selecting student ministry curriculum it can become one. Often times a Youth Minister will inherit a senior pastor or vice versa and find out later that the two are on slightly different pages regarding a couple of theology points. If you intend to remain in your position then you need to be a team player and be willing and able to allow your theology to play second fiddle to that of the senior pastor.

3. TOOLSDoes it provide volunteers with enough quality tools to promote excellence in teaching?  Small group leaders must have access to quality commentary but equally beneficial and often compromised is a surfeit of ideas to get students connected, engaged and responsive during the bible lesson.

4. TEACHING: Is the content built upon solid instructional methods? The explanation, examination, and application should reflect high retention teaching methods that demonstrate a solid grasp of adolescent development?

5.  TIMED OUT: Is it stimulating, attractive and current regarding culture, references and illustration? Just because curriculum is old does not mean it has and expiration date. At the same time, just because curriculum is new does not mean it has been built upon solid methods for teaching adolescents.

In most youth ministries, teaching students the bible is accomplished from two main delivery platforms: 1. The adolescent pulpit during a  weekly large group gathering and 2. Small group discipleship programming like D-groups, Life groups or Connect groups.

No matter what you call your teaching or discipleship delivery system, take your responsibility for selecting curriculum seriously.

In a growing number of churches, the responsibility for selecting the primary discipleship curriculum has been removed from the privy of the student minister. Why? In many cases it is because one or more of the five T’s was not carefully considered. Don’t be a curriculum slacker who lets everyone choose what they want to use without your scrutiny. Equally important is not to jump on some new band-wagon of popular publishing without careful evaluation. Someone may be an awesome camp preacher, a great writer, or extremely creative yet completely miss the mark for developing high quality student ministry discipleship curriculum. If selecting the curriculum for building disciples is your responsibility be diligent not to fumble the ball from lack of focus or give it up through carelessness.

Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” II Timothy 2:15

To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it. I Corinthians 9:22-23