Bang! Rebecca has just poked a hole in the balloon that she held.
“This is what Jeremiah meant when he talked about idols.
They’re nothing!” she exclaimed. The 6th grade students
cheered and clapped at Rebecca’s demonstration and the teacher
was delighted that the children understood the story so well.
It’s wonderful for children to experience an in-class use
of creative, hands-on, student-centered curriculum that encourages
them to reach their potential as learners.
“Hey, what are you studying next quarter,” asked Joe.
“I don’t know Joe; Alex hasn’t ordered the adult
curriculum yet.” Alex’s inertia with ordering curriculum
describes a lack of planning that unfortunately is an all too
common occurrence describing the scope of many adult education
programs in our churches.
“Man, I gotta find something to teach Sunday morning. I
just can’t talk about dating again,” complained Bill.
These sentiments expressed by Bill echo an army of complaints
heard from youth ministers in our brotherhood concerning the need
for relevant curriculum.
Peering into several of our classrooms on a Sunday morning one
discovers various curriculums in use. Rebecca’s balloon
activity demonstrates the use of experiential curriculum which
offers unprecedented opportunities for hands-on learning in children’s
classrooms today. Some educators love it, others ask “where’s
the content?” The absence of adult educational leadership
in Joe and Alex’s situation creates a “hit or miss”
curriculum plan. What results for adult learners is a hodgepodge
of spiritual development that may impede spiritual formation.
Scarcity of youth curriculum that is both cutting edge and relevant
sends many youth workers like Bill to non-brotherhood resources
for Bible class materials. Youth workers prefer to use a curriculum
that has a relational, experiential edge, but regret the lack
of biblical content often found in denominational teaching resources.
Rebecca, Joe, and Bill face disparate challenges often experienced
in the arena of Christian teaching.
The upheavals found among practitioners in curriculum development
alert one to understand that there is a shifting paradigm in prevailing
usage of Sunday school curriculum. What’s occurring is not
exclusive for churches of Christ, but is indicative of changes
in curriculum that is happening among denominations in North American
churches. What’s happening is that church leaders and volunteers
are making important curriculum decisions that will influence
a new generation of children and adults. The essential question
becomes: how will these curriculum choices affect the future of
the church? Will current practice promote spiritual maturity among
adults? Will current practice curb the 50% drop-out rate among
our adolescents? Will current practice promote stronger families?
Establishing answers for these challenging questions engage critical
curriculum issues. Christian educators as never before must select
materials that encourage mature Christian living.