Are there some really compelling reasons to use Sunday School curriculum? We believe YES! For nearly two and a half decades, God has developed strong Christians at Lancaster Baptist Church, and a huge part of that process is the Adult Bible Class Ministry and curriculum. Several years ago, through Striving Together Publications, we made a serious commitment to produce curriculum for local church ministry. Here’s why:
1. Equip the Teacher—while many are gifted at assimilating material into memorable outlines and thought flow, many are not. There’s nothing worse than listening to good Bible material put through an “impossible to follow” thought flow! Most lay teachers and many full-time workers appreciate having a basic outline of biblical material to use as a launching pad—a starting point and guideline. Guaranteed—providing a solid series of outlines for your teachers is an investment that will reap a huge harvest in your adult class ministry.
2. Engage the Students—when you place a student book into the hands of your class, you say something very valuable! You say, “We are interested in making a serious investment into your spiritual growth.” You say, “Take this class seriously!” You say, “Come back next week for the next lesson in this series.” You say, “We are preparing every week to build your Christian life.” These are powerful messages that make the minor cost of a student book well worth it!
3. Establish Commitment—using a series of lessons builds continuity from week to week that encourages students to commit to a class. It lets them know they are missing something if they don’t return. This is effective for regular attenders as well as first-time visitors. Think of the impact on a visitor when they walk into a class, receive a warm welcome, and are then handed a student book for the present series.
4. Encourage Follow Up Study—using the student books provides the class members with a weekly assignment including review questions for discussion or personal devotions. This also provides the teacher some thoughts for opening discussion each week and reviewing the previous lesson.
5. Enable a Journey of Spiritual Growth—using student books gives each class member a growing library that chronicles their own growth. Let’s face it, weekly photocopies end up in the trash. But nobody throws away a student book! They will save them and be able to look back over them in the years to come. That’s valuable.
In spite of these great reasons, many still wrestle with three common obstacles to using curriculum. Let’s examine them:
What about cost? The most common question I receive about Striving Together curriculum is “can we photocopy the lesson for our students?” The answer is always “No.” Why?
First, it’s just a bad practice. The students will throw away the photocopies. They won’t save them. So your time, your money, your copier is all wasted—bad stewardship.
Secondly, we couldn’t continue providing curriculum if that practice continued. I know that’s basic, but true.
Thirdly, we believe strongly in the value of a student guide—it is much greater than the cost. Striving Together student guides can be purchased for as little as $2 and $3. That’s unheard of in Christian publishing! In fact, you probably can’t even photocopy them for that price once you add up the paper, time, labor, and copier costs. On top of that, the five point list above is worth far more than a few dollars in the life of every growing Christian.
Do the students really use it? The simple answer is, “yes and no.” Most do, some don’t. Frankly, you’ll probably never get an entire class to use the student books in their entirety. The point is, many will! And many others will use them partially. The class may require some reminding. You may end up providing replacements for a few lost books along the way. You may have folks who miss a few lessons. But ultimately, most of your class will use the books and benefit from them. And over time, you will build the habit and expectation into the DNA of your Sunday School. And that’s worth working toward.
Is it really that effective? Yes. Look at the five things above and ask yourself if you would like to see these things in your adult and youth classes. Sunday school curriculum will improve your teachers and engage your students at a whole new level. It’s an investment you can’t afford not to make!
Publishing curriculum is no small commitment. Every new publication takes a year or more of development, and all Striving Together curriculum is often designed to provide the teacher with more material than can be taught in 13 weeks. That’s on purpose! We want to provide plenty of good content in every resource. But, even with good curriculum available there are many churches that can’t seem to get over the hurdle of the investment. The sooner you get over that hurdle, the sooner the investment will start to pay back on multiple levels.
Sunday school curriculum is a great way to take your adult and youth classes to the next level. Visit strivingtogether.com to get started with one of our newest curriculums this week!
What are your thoughts about the power of a good curriculum in your Sunday school ministry?