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Read the assigned chapter 19 pages 363-379 (ATTACHED). Think, write and post your thoughts and feelings. (3 pages)

The adulT learner 359

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conclusion

Our desire in all our opportunities for teaching adults is that they would be excited about their learning and would practice their les- sons in daily living. If we focus on their needs and invite them to be lifelong learners alongside the teacher, we, too, will enjoy seeing them mature in Christ. The apostle Peter explained it this way: “You yourselves, as living stones, are being built into a spiritual house for a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet 2:5). May God bless you as you contrib- ute to the living stones under your care, building a spiritual house in Jesus’ name.

discussion Questions

Evaluate your church’s generational profile. What proportion 1. of adults fits into each of Barna’s generational divisions? What evidences of spiritual growth do you see among the 2. adults in your church? What changes would you have to make in your teaching to 3. implement some of the tenets of andragogy? How do you organize your adults for Bible teaching? Based on 4. the chapter, how would you recommend organizing adults for Bible study?

additional resources

Edwards, Rick, comp. Teaching Adults. Nashville: LifeWay, 2002. Gangel, Kenneth O. Ministering to Today’s Adults. OR: Wipf and

Stock, 1999. Gangel, Kenneth O., and James Wilhoit. The Christian Educator’s

Handbook of Adult Education. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1993. Hanks, Louis. Vision, Variety, Vitality. Nashville: LifeWay, 1996. McLendon, John. Beyond the Walls: Multiply Your Adult Ministry.

Lifeway Christian Resources, online download. Multiply Your Adult Ministry (PDF), http://www.lifeway.com/lwc/article_main_ page.html.

Raughton, Alan, and Louis B. Hanks. Essentials for Excellence. Nashville: LifeWay, 2003.

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Yount, William. The Teaching Ministry of the Church : Second Edition, B&H Publishing Group, 2008. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/amridge/detail.action?docID=665100. Created from amridge on 2021-03-16 21:32:15.

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Stubblefield, Jerry. A Church Ministering to Adults. Nashville: Broadman, 1986.

Bibliography

Coleman, Lucien. Understanding Today’s Adults. Nashville: Convention, 1969.

Ford, LeRoy. Design for Teaching and Training: A Self-Study Guide to Lesson Planning. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2000.

Gangel, Ken, and James Wilhoit. Handbook on Adult Education. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1993.

Knowles, Malcolm. The Adult Learner: A Neglected Species. Houston, TX: Gulf, 1973.

____________. The Modern Practice of Adult Education: From Pedogogy to Andragogy. Rev. & updated. Chicago, IL: Follett, 1980.

McIntosh, Gary. One Church, Four Generations. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002.

Patterson, Richard. “How Adults Learn.” Handbook on Adult Education. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1993.

Yount, William R. Created to Learn. Nashville: B&H, 1996.

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Part Four

STRUCTURING THE TEACHING

MINISTRY OF THE CHURCH

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363

Chapter 19

SELECTING AND EVALUATING CURRICULUM

Margaret Lawson

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

(2 Tim 4:7)

What is curriculum?

C hurch leaders responsible for Bible teaching programs frequently hear questions or comments like this: “Our class does not like the curriculum we use. Can we use

something else?” Perhaps it is phrased this way: “Our curriculum does not meet the needs in our class. We would like to study a book.” Or more extreme than either of these: “We don’t like the curriculum so we have decided to write our own!” What is the best response to these questions? How would you answer?

Ministers of education and pastors ask me more questions about curriculum than about any other issue in Christian educa- tion. It is a challenging issue. It is a relentless issue, confronting us at least every quarter. And it is even more of a challenge when it is needed for the many ethnic churches in a cultural context other than our own as the world has come to our front door. Further afield yet, missionaries face additional challenges when securing teaching resources for their work. Their limited resources and cul- tural and language differences mean that they often adapt existing materials for their particular situations or write their own.

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The truth is that the questions and comments above have the wrong focus. It follows that if we keep asking the wrong questions we are bound to get the wrong answer. First, there is a misunder- standing of the term curriculum. For many, the term conjures up an image of “the quarterly,” but curriculum is much more. There are essential differences among the related terms curriculum, curriculum plan, and curriculum resources.

Curriculum—from the Latin currere, to run—means “race course.” It refers to a sequence of intentional experiences where learning takes place.1 LeRoy Ford defined curriculum in terms of the apostle Paul’s statement to Timothy, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim 4:7). Ford points out that Paul finished the “curriculum” that was laid out for him to do, when he finished life’s race. Curriculum includes all of life’s events, some of which are planned and some unplanned, that contribute to- ward maturing the individual. He diagrams it like this: 2

A curriculum plan is the organized process by which the teaching- learning process is systematically undertaken under the guidance of

1 L. Ford, A Curriculum Design Manual for Theological Education (Nashville: Broadman, 1991), 34.

2 Ford, letter to writer, January 24, 2005.

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the church. A curriculum plan is a detailed blueprint for learning in the church.3 The difference between a curriculum and a curriculum plan is analogous to the difference between “a race completed” and “a race planned.”4

Curriculum resources are the materials used to accomplish the pur- pose of the educational ministry of the church. These would include printed materials, such as study guides (“quarterlies”) and teaching aids, as well as the necessary equipment for ongoing activities. Even hymnbooks form part of our resources, providing learners theologi- cal meanings and analogies. In churches we often refer to these re- sources, in general terms, as “the curriculum.”

selecting and evaluating the curriculum

Is a church curriculum plan necessary? Many of us grew up in churches where there was no obvious churchwide plan, and where the same programs and the same resources were used year after year. Few ever thought of questioning why. Some churches are filled with members who attend services regularly yet show little evidence of spiritual growth or life transformation. No plan or program alone will produce spiritual transformation. Only the Holy Spirit can do that. But we can provide an environment in which He is able to work. As we plan for teachers, learners, and learning experiences for all ages, we can choose to be intentional and focus the education ministry toward particular goals.

Curriculum resources are a significant component of a curricu- lum plan. Choosing these wisely contributes to the vital role the church plays in teaching and equipping individuals toward maturity in Christ. Resources alone will not produce mature Christians, but when chosen and used correctly, curriculum resources go a long way toward assisting teachers to make disciples.

The purpose of curriculum planning is not merely an administra- tive function but rather it reflects the church’s view of discipleship. It answers the first question, What does a fully developed follower of Christ look like? And it gives rise to the second, How do we equip people to become increasingly mature in Christ? Perhaps Paul’s

3 Ford, Curriculum Design Manual, 34. 4 Ibid., 43.

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stated desire in Phil 3:10 would be an appropriate goal: “to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suf- ferings, being conformed to His death” (Phil 3:10). As disciple-mak- ers it becomes our responsibility to help others to grow in Christ, and as the apostle says, “We proclaim Him, warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ” (Col 1:28–29).

How do we select curriculum resources that will help teachers encourage spiritual growth in their students? The decisions we make affect Bible study, discipleship, missions, and any other programs through which the church teaches. The Sunday school hour is when dated materials are most frequently used, although the same criteria for selection apply to all the educational programs of the church. The many available resources on the market today cause us to ask, “Which curriculum series best serves the interests of a specific lo- cal church?” Using the Sunday school as common ground, to which most of us can relate, consider the following criteria to determine the most appropriate materials for your situation. The purpose of the fol- lowing statements is to assist in selecting from many good items the one curriculum series that is best for your situation.

Biblically Based

The Bible is foundational for teaching and the first factor for con- sideration. There are many different kinds of Bible study materials. Sometimes a Bible book is selected and studied each week so the content is the starting point, and over a period of time the entire Bible is presented. Other curriculum series identify significant life issues for learners in each age group and select Bible passages that address the topic. Some Bible study series today provide relevant subject mat- ter but quote just one text to support the topic chosen. In the final analysis it is not how much Scripture is used, or if the curriculum is learner centered or content centered, but the way in which learners are engaged in the study. Does the material lend itself to leading the learners to study and interact with the Scripture passage?

Theologically sound

While the matter of theological soundness is closely related to a biblical base, there is a distinction. Materials can be considered theo-

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logically sound yet not match specific doctrines of various denomi- nations. Churches desire curriculum resources that reinforce their own theological views. Denominational distinctives—such as open or closed Communion, mode of baptism, and eternal security of the believer—emphasize this or that particular theological perspective. Most churches will consider a curriculum theologically sound only if it agrees with their doctrinal stance. This is called denominational alignment. Most publishers of curriculum materials post a doctrinal statement on their Web sites, so it is possible to examine the theo- logical stance from which the resources are written.

denominational alignment

One advantage of using denominational publications is that the church’s doctrine is recognized and reliable. Baptists should be able to trust Baptist resources, Methodists ought to know what to ex- pect with materials from Methodist publishers, and so on. Southern Baptists have a unique approach to missions and mission support through the Cooperative Program. Other annual denominational em- phases are recognized in churches, such as weeks of prayer for mis- sions, special emphasis lessons on ethical issues, or stewardship; and these are built into the resources.

Is it appropriate, then, to use nondenominational materials as long as their statement of doctrine is acceptable? That is certainly a pos- sibility as long as the leaders and teachers using the resources under- stand that any particular doctrinal issue may need to be interpreted. For example, the approach to topics such as baptism or the Lord’s Supper may offer the alternatives of several denominations rather than advocating one specifically. Nondenominational publishers market their products to a wide variety of denominations and try to avoid taking a stance on controversial issues.

When a church makes a decision to use interdenominational re- sources, specific theological emphases are missed. The individual church leadership is responsible for providing supplements at the appropriate times to provide focused lessons.

educational objective

Curriculum resources also reflect the educational purpose of the church. Traditionally Southern Baptist materials have included in

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their objectives the following: leading individuals to Christ, involv- ing them in church membership, and equipping them to live as Christians in the world. Encompassed in this is a focus on assisting people to grow toward maturity in discipleship and become involved in service in the church, the community, and the world. In selecting resources it is important to examine the educational objective of the materials to ensure their focus is in keeping with the church’s pur- pose, mission, and annual goals.

correlation of curriculum

The various parts of the total curriculum should be properly correlated, and this necessitates a close relationship among all the programs of the church. These programs all lead toward the same general purpose and should support one another but not overlap. Curricula used in the Sunday school hour, discipleship groups, and men’s and women’s ministries, for example, should be complemen- tary but not usually repetitive.

Sometimes a deliberate decision may be made for all classes in the Sunday school to study a particular topic in line with an emphasis in the church. A stewardship lesson, for instance, might be provided for all age groups for one Sunday.

sequence of study

It is common for publishers of curriculum materials to provide the “scope and sequence” of topics for an extended period of time, such as a year or even five years. Publishers’ Web sites will often overview the content in each unit over a year or several years. This enables leaders to determine if the presentation of the segments is in the best order for learning in any age group. The best order for lessons to be presented is in relationship to learning readiness in each age level.

Materials ought to reflect the ability of learners at any given age to assimilate concepts. Preschoolers are imaginative and active thinkers, children are logical (concrete) thinkers, while youth can process the abstract (kingdom of heaven) and hypothetical (What if?). Adults are able to think abstractly but often choose to live in earlier stages. For example, the apostle Paul chided the Corinthian believers for still being infants. He said, “I fed you milk, not solid food, because you

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were not yet able to receive it. In fact, you are still not able” (1 Cor 3:2). Curriculum resources should provide both milk and solid food.

Sequence of units of study is also a consideration, especially if dif- ferent age groups in the church are using different curriculum series. A fourth grader may have been involved in a cycle of topics one year, and upon promotion to fifth grade could conceivably repeat those same topics in another series. One advantage of the whole church using the same curriculum series for a Bible study program is the matter of coordinated sequence over a span of years.

comprehensiveness of the curriculum

The goal of Christian teaching—the development of well-rounded learners—is the guiding principle here. Is the curriculum framework of content, learning activities, and suggested experiences adequate for such development? Does it provide for a variety of learning styles and teaching methods so that the educational needs of learners are included? Does the course content assist the learner to grow in all aspects of spiritual development? This kind of evaluation requires training in both educational process and theological content.

To those who would write their own curriculum, a word of cau- tion is in order here. Make sure the specifically designed lessons are indeed the best for the development of the learner rather than a platform for the writer’s favorite topic. The following principle of balance relates to this.

The Principle of Balance

How do curriculum designers decide what to include and what to leave out of their resources in any given period? Consider a learner in a church who attends Sunday school from preschool through adulthood. How can we be assured he has learned all he needs to live the Christian life?

One sure measure is to consider the weight given to topics in the Scripture and to provide the same balance in teaching. Failing to do this—that is, emphasizing a few topics over others—leads to imbal- ance in teaching. A learner may have been in church all his life with- out having read the Bible through. If church leaders have steadily selected life-issues curriculum materials, the student may know a great deal about some topics but nothing about what the Bible says

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on other important topics. If leaders take into account the long-term overview of curriculum materials rather than a week-to-week glance, they are more likely to provide adequate balance in teaching topics.

learner interests

Curriculum resources should also reflect sound principles of learning. Christian learning takes place when an eternal truth of the gospel coincides or intersects with a persistent life need of the learn- er.5 If the resources focus on the needs of the learner as well as ways in which students learn in each developmental stage, they will assist in bringing about change in the individual’s life.6

The ultimate goal of all Christian teaching is spiritual transforma- tion. The materials should be focused to lead learners to an encoun- ter with Christ at the appropriate stages in their spiritual journey and help them grow toward being like Him.

Carefully designed resources help make the truth of Scripture come alive. The aim or goal of the lesson7 should be clearly stated so that teachers can focus learning toward a particular response and not merely “finish the lesson.”

Supporting materials such as artwork and illustrations should reflect the culture of the learner. Do African-American, Asian, or Hispanic children ever see pictures of children “like them” in the materials? Do illustrations overemphasize middle-class suburbia and underemphasize urban and rural settings?

Teacher ability

Teachers of Bible study classes come from a variety of walks of life, and so curriculum resources should be geared to accommodate them. Teachers and leaders may have little training in educational practice so the materials need to be written in such a way that volun- teers can easily obtain resources and use teaching methods suggested in the materials.

5 Howard P. Colson and Raymond M. Rigdon, Understanding Your Church’s Curriculum (Nashville: Broadman, 1981), 81.

6 The Bible (Eternal Truth) speaking to Needs of the Learners: the foundation of Disciplers’ Model, chapter 1.

7 See chapter 13, “Planning to Teach,” for a discussion of goals, objectives, and “targets”

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Leaders and teachers should be provided adequate training8 in the use of the curriculum materials as helps for teaching preparation. Many undated resources provide additional help for teacher plan- ning. Books on age-group characteristics—such as Understanding Preschoolers—and suggestions for teaching—Teaching Youth— provide a wide variety of learning activities from which to choose.

choosing acceptable and effective resources

Denominational publications are produced for many churches, all of which are different. It is a challenge to meet the requirements of every church, everywhere. Producers of curriculum materials often provide options from which churches may choose. Church leaders determine which option is most effective for their own situation.

Young adults and senior adults have significantly different expec- tations for resources. Color may be a factor for a young adult while economy may be the focus of the senior. Producers of resources consider the diverse population in their churches and do their best to meet their needs. Some publishers even consider senior adults who want a large-print learner’s guide that is small enough to fit in their Bibles! It is a well-known fact that it is impossible to please all of the people all of the time, but if we make our selections carefully and explain those selections to users, materials can be used effectively to help learners grow.

cost of the curriculum Materials

The cost of the materials is certainly a consideration for many churches, though we hope, given all we said above, not the primary one. Basic curriculum pieces include the teacher’s and learners’ guides. Will you purchase just enough for members, or will you pur- chase additional copies for visitors and new members?

Publishers often provide teaching helps in the form of kits, which include posters, maps, lists, artwork, and the like. Bible commen- taries are also available. Some churches provide these “free” to any teacher who asks; others order materials for purchase by teachers who want them.

8 See chapter 20, “Equipping Teachers,” for practical suggestions for training.

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We can save money by carefully managing ordering and use pat- terns every quarter (or order cycle) and order only what teachers and leaders actually use. We can save money by impressing on teachers the cost of materials and helping them become good stewards of budgeted monies. We can save money by comparing various cur- ricula, purchasing the materials that provide the best materials (con- tent, sequence, aims) for the least money. By doing all these things, we can provide the best mix of content and cost, helping both the leaders and the church as a whole.

contextualizing resources

It is important to consider the context in which the materials are to be used. Language differences, methods of teaching, financial and human resources available, and appropriateness of activities and artwork are among the items to be evaluated. A student once told me about an experience she had on a mission trip. She filled small containers with rice to make different sounds, as an activity for young children. The activity was age appropriate, and the children enjoyed it immensely. After she finished, she threw the dirty rice away. The children were horrified that she had been so wasteful. They would have taken it home for a meal. The aim of the lesson was totally overlooked. She had forgotten to consider context: she was in a country where food was very scarce. Increasingly, our churches are becoming a mix of cultures and ethnicities. Choosing appropriate Bible study resources is all the more important if we are to reach out to the world and teach them what Jesus commanded.

The curriculum Planning Team

The selection and management of curriculum resources is best handled by leaders of the organizations using the materials. For ex- ample, if a church has a preschool division director and several pre- school departments (director and teachers), these leaders are the best qualified to determine which preschool curriculum resources to use. The Sunday school director provides coordination across preschool, children, youth, and adult divisions.

If a church is fortunate enough to have age-group staff ministers (children, youth, adult), they can provide excellent support for se-

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lecting the curriculum, particularly when they have been specifically trained in educational processes. A minister of education provides overall supervision to the process. Regardless of how much profes- sional support a church provides to lay leaders, it is important that lay leaders and teachers be involved in the process of evaluating and selecting curriculum materials. When teachers and leaders as- sist in the selection of resources, they will use them more readily. In smaller churches, lay leaders work with the pastor in selecting a cur- riculum series for their various areas.

Management of resources requires an established process for or- dering materials and evaluating their use. Publishers may provide an order form, which is helpful for leaders/teachers to complete each year (or quarter) to request the materials they would like to use. Analysis of ordering patterns can be done using these completed forms. Regular evaluation of resources used will enable the leaders to exercise stewardship in handling the finances of the church.

Teachers’ meetings and/or individual consultations with teach- ers will allow leaders to determine the usefulness of resources. Adjustments are then made accordingly.

After selecting the materials, hold a training event to help teachers use the materials effectively. This is especially important for those who are using the materials for the first time. Understanding purpose and design of each curriculum series will assist in accomplishing the desired results. Printed resources, as good as they may be, are just part of the curriculum plan necessary for helping followers of Jesus Christ to grow in Him.

using a checklist

A checklist is an instrument devised to help teaching leaders make appropriate choices in curriculum resources. Below are two examples of curriculum checklists.9 You would do well to use one of these ex- amples as a model to custom design a list especially for your specific church situation. A checklist for children’s materials will look differ- ent from one for adults. The checklists also help leaders emphasize important curriculum considerations beyond the pictures on the 9 Norma Hedin, “How to Select and Evaluate Curriculum Materials,” in D. Eldridge,

The Teaching Ministry of the Church (Nashville: B&H, 1995), 291–93. Hedin created these two checklists for the first edition of the text.

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cover. By working through the checklists, leaders provide helpful training in what actually makes curriculum resources effective.

Sample Checklist One: General Characteristics

The first sample checklist emphasizes questions that are most im- portant to your church. Simple yes/no responses provide a quick way to compare two curriculum pieces.

C U R R I C U L U M E V A L U A T I O N C H E C K L I S T

Curriculum

Age Group

Educational Goals

Use of Content

Regards the Bible as the authoritative guide to faith and practice Yes No

Emphasizes biblical essentials: salvation, discipleship, service Yes No

Emphasizes the doctrinal distinctive of your particular denomination

Yes No

Encourages commitment to Jesus Christ as personal Savior and Lord

Yes No

Encourages independent thinking and questioning Yes No

Uses personal life experiences of members as occasions for spiritual insight

Yes No

Recognizes and affirms the uniqueness of each person’s spiri- tual journey

Yes No

Emphasizes applying faith to moral decision-making and life issues

Yes No

Relationship to Goals

Focuses on outreach and ministry to others Yes No

Provides resources related to the needs of singles Yes No

Provides resources for all age groups for family Bible study Yes No

Focuses on spiritual disciplines with practical suggestions for family relationships and growth

Yes No

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seleCTing and evaluaTing CurriCuluM 375

Educational Approach and Organization

Gives clear and understandable objectives for teaching and learning

Yes No

Offers a balance of biblical exposition and application to life Yes No

Uses materials appropriate to learner’s needs, abilities, and interests

Yes No

Needs of Church and Teachers

Allows for flexibility to meet the needs of various size churches and diversity of teachers and pupils

Yes No

Gives teachers guidance and insight into educational theory and methods for adults

Yes No

Provides inspiration, biblical background, and teaching prin- ciples for teachers

Yes No

Provides at least one detailed lesson plan with additional teacher helps and resources

Yes No

Provides illustrations and application suggestions appropriate for the age group for which it is written

Yes No

Suggests a variety of learning activities based on sound educa- tional principles

Yes No

Mechanical Features

Material is well-written and readable, using short paragraphs and sentences

Yes No

Graphics and layout are attractive, contemporary, and interesting Yes No

Designed for ease of use for teacher and student Yes No

Comments and Overall Assessment

sample checklist Two: evaluation Worksheet

The second checklist provides a means to measure the strength of essential characteristics. By rating each item on a scale from 5 (high)

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376 Margaret Lawson

to 1 (low) and adding the scores together, you can compare two dif- ferent curriculum series. You may certainly add questions to reflect the curriculum preferences of your church, based on the value given to each of the criteria above.

C U R R I C U L U M E V A L U A T I O N W O R K S H E E T

As you evaluate each curriculum piece, answer the question: To what extent does this curriculum reveal this characteristic? A score of 1 = very poor; 2 = poor; 3 = average; 4 = good; 5 = excellent.

Centered in the Word of God 1 2 3 4 5

Emphasizes salvation, discipleship, service 1 2 3 4 5

Emphasizes the doctrinal distinctives of our denomination 1 2 3 4 5

Encourages commitment to Jesus Christ as personal Savior and Lord

1 2 3 4 5

Emphasizes biblical knowledge and understanding, and applica- tion of Bible truths

1 2 3 4 5

Encourages independent thinking and questioning 1 2 3 4 5

Uses educational processes that actively involve learners 1 2 3 4 5

Gives teachers guidance and insight into educational theory and methods

1 2 3 4 5

Gives clear and understandable objectives for teaching and learning

1 2 3 4 5

Is flexible enough to meet the needs of various teachers and pu- pils in our church

1 2 3 4 5

Provides biblical background, illustrations, and teaching helps for teachers

1 2 3 4 5

Provides at least one detailed lesson plan with additional teacher helps and resources

1 2 3 4 5

Provides illustrations and application suggestions appropriate for the age group for which it is written

1 2 3 4 5

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seleCTing and evaluaTing CurriCuluM 377

Is well-written and readable, using short paragraphs and sentences

1 2 3 4 5

Features attractive, contemporary, and interesting graphics and layout

1 2 3 4 5

Is easy for teachers and students to use 1 2 3 4 5

return to the dilemma

At the beginning of our chapter, we raised questions often heard by educational leaders: “Our class does not like the curriculum we use. Can we use something else?” Or, “Our curriculum does not meet the needs in our class. We would like to study a book.” Or, “We don’t like the curriculum so we have decided to write our own!” In the light of this chapter, how would you respond to these questions?

Before rushing to change curriculum lines or publishers, consider other factors that may be creating problems in classes. Consider the teacher (unprepared; always critical), the teaching approach (uses only one teaching method; wandering discussion), level of skill in the use of the current resources (lacking training), and the age group of the learners (too broad an age range; first-time teacher with the age group). Also important is the specific reason for the dissatisfac- tion. Can it actually be traced to the curriculum itself? In many cases one of these extraneous factors is more problematic than the printed resources themselves because, truth be told, a good teacher can con- vert almost any printed curriculum into an unforgettable learning experience.10

If indeed the resources are the problem, we solve this by finding a more appropriate curriculum. If church leaders apply the criteria in the checklists above and choose their curriculum resources with care, the church will make great strides toward providing solid sup- port for educating individuals to grow in their faith and “run the race” set out for them.

a Personal reflection

The principles of curriculum planning and resource selection have broad application. My personal experience has demonstrated clearly 10 See chapter 14, “Creating an Unforgettable Learning Experience.”

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378 Margaret Lawson

to me that it is worth the time and effort it requires. I am convinced of this because I have made all the mistakes! I lived in a country where resources were limited, and it was the desire of the people to have indigenous materials. With limited knowledge of all the prin- ciples I have offered above, we developed materials that consisted of one book of teacher’s materials and a separate book of lesson activi- ties for preschool, children, youth, and adults. We decided to begin with the book of Romans. We had a clear rationale and believed that Romans would introduce the learners to the gospel. It would also be a cost-effective approach.

What we did not consider was the educational background of the people or their level of Bible knowledge. The materials were targeted for the people, and we meant well, but it missed our target com- pletely: it is difficult, if not impossible, to teach the same Scripture passage to all four age groups using the same teacher’s book. This experience helped focus my interest on curriculum design when I entered seminary to study Christian education.

conclusion

The Father has a plan for each one of our learners, and He allows us to participate in it. It is a great responsibility to choose the best resources to develop and equip believers of all ages. In the words of the apostle Paul, our goal is to “proclaim Him, warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ” (Col 1:28). The right curriculum materials will assist us in accomplishing this goal.

In 1971 Howard Colson wrote an article on “adequate curricu- lum” that began with these words:

One of the most encouraging aspects of Southern Baptist church life today is the increased attention being given to the curriculum of Christian education. Church leaders are focusing attention—long overdue—on curriculum mat- ters. This new interest has the possibility of bringing about real improvement in church educational work in the years ahead.11

11 Howard P. Colson, “Tests of an Adequate Curriculum,” Facts and Trends, vol 15, no. 4, 1971.

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seleCTing and evaluaTing CurriCuluM 379

Although these words were penned nearly 40 years ago, the senti- ment is still applicable today. Some things may have changed, but as we call the churches back to the task of “present[ing] everyone ma- ture in Christ” (Col 1:28), we will do well to recognize that curricu- lum resources can make a significant impact on educational ministry today.

discussion Questions

What curriculum resources does your church use? What are 1. the reasons for selecting these? How do you deal with questions regarding substitution of cur-2. riculum resources? How would you address the issues at the beginning of this chapter? Design a checklist to evaluate the curriculum resources your 3. church uses. Choose an age group to evaluate. Who makes the curriculum decisions in your church? 4. Formulate a plan to evaluate the process you have in place.

Bibliography

Colson, Howard P. “Tests of an Adequate Curriculum.”Facts and Trends, vol 15, no. 4, 1971.

Colson, Howard P., and Raymond M. Rigdon. Understanding Your Church’s Curriculum. Nashville: Broadman, 1981.

Cully, Iris V. Planning and Selecting Curriculum for Christian Education. Valley Forge: Judson, 1983.

Ford, LeRoy. A Curriculum Design Manual for Theological Education. Nashville: Broadman, 1991.

Harris, Maria. Fashion Me a People. Louisville, KY: Westminister/ John Knox, 1989.

Mager, Robert F. Preparing Instructional Objectives. 3rd ed. Atlanta: The Center for Effective Performance, 1997.

Mims, Gene. Kingdom Principles for Church Growth. Nashville: LifeWay Church Resources, 1994.

Ornstein, Allan C., and Linda S. Behar. Contemporary Issues in Curriculum. Needham Heights: Allyn and Bacon, 1995.

Posner, George J. Analyzing the Curriculum. 3rd ed. New York: McGraw Hill, 2004.

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380 Margaret Lawson

Tyler, Ralph W. Basic Principles of Curriculum and Design. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1949.

Wyckoff, D, Campbell. Theory and Design of Christian Education Curriculum. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1961.

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381

Chapter 20

EQUIPPING TEACHERS

Rick Yount

Now may the God of peace, who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus—

the great Shepherd of the sheep— with the blood of the everlasting covenant,

equip you with all that is good to do His will, working in us what is pleasing in His sight,

through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Heb 13:20–21)

“don’t Waste My Time!”

I was so excited with my new ministry position. Five years be- fore, my wife and I had left this wonderful church to attend seminary. A warmhearted, mission-minded, growing church. A

loving pastor-teacher. Many close friends. And now, with an MRE1 and an ABD2 doctorate in education, we headed back “home” to assume the newly created position of minister of education. I had studied the ideals of education ministry for years, but now I faced the ordeal of education ministry in the real world.

One of my first goals was to establish a training program for the 68 teachers of adults in the Sunday school program. I already knew it wasn’t going to be easy. In initial meetings I had heard from a dozen teachers that the last thing they wanted was for me to “waste their time with a bunch of useless meetings!” They had tried the filet of teacher meeting several times and found it dry and tasteless. How would I ever overcome that?

1 Master of Religious Education degree 2 “All (doctoral work completed) But Dissertation.”

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382 Rick Yount

The need for the systematic equipping of Teachers

Systematic teacher and leader training has fallen on hard times in many of our churches. Fifty years ago the typical Southern Baptist church provided weekly meetings of teachers and directors in which preparations were made, educationally and administratively, for up- coming Sunday school sessions. Churches elected a lay director of Sunday school, as well as lay directors of age divisions (preschool, children, youth, adults), who coordinated the work of their areas— which included training.3

Larger churches called vocational ministers of education, profes- sionals trained in a variety of seminary courses, to guide these efforts. The largest churches provided a full educational staff whose primary purpose was to “equip the saints for works of service”—teaching, reaching, ministering. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Southern Baptists could boast of a veritable army of trained workers, tens of thousands of trained teachers and leaders in thousands of churches nationwide. Two regional training centers in Glorieta, New Mexico, and Ridgecrest, North Carolina, were filled to capacity during mul- tiple weeks of Sunday school training sessions. Convention Press produced scores of training booklets, which provided opportunities for church members to study individually, or in groups, to earn cer- tificates. Regional associations of churches and state conventions pro- vided regular training events. Today’s efforts at helping local church teachers in “rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15 KJV) are a shadow of what they once were. Even when the training events are provided, only a fraction of our teachers take advantage of them.

There are many reasons for this, I suppose, but I will mention two, both societal. First, we are far more individualistic than we used to be,4 less given to surrendering personal time for the good of the group. When men like my father and father-in-law enlisted to

3 I say “Southern Baptist” here not to exclude other evangelical groups but because I know of Southern Baptists’ work in this area firsthand. Only once was my family a member of an independent Baptist church, on Long Island, New York, and they had no Bible study or discipleship training for adults at all.

4 Existential philosophy (self, free choice, revolt from the societal norm) took hold in the 1960s. Humanistic psychology (personal values, emphasis of emotion over rea- son) struck in the 1970s. Both quickly rose to prominence in schools of education, training a generation of teachers, principals, and future deans. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, these two streams morphed into postmodernism.

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equipping TeaChers 383

fight in World War II, they believed they were joining something larger than their own lives, engaging a struggle larger than self. Today, it seems, there is nothing larger than self. Even the U.S. Army engages prospective recruits with the self-obsessed slogan, “Be an Army of One!” When recruits arrive at boot camp, however, they find themselves part of something larger than self after all—squad, platoon, and company! Military training has one fundamental goal: to build teams to carry out specific missions. We would do well to return to this mind-set in our churches, joining drill sergeants— and football coaches, for that matter—in transforming self-obsessed individuals into mission-directed team members. It is not an easy transformation.

A second societal change is the rise of entertainment as the highest virtue. A century ago the movie industry, and later, radio and televi- sion, provided the means to escape briefly the mundane responsi- bilities of life and work. As we moved into the twenty-first century, entertainment had all but replaced reality. Simply compare a 1960s talking-head news broadcast with today’s video-intensive, animation- enhanced, sound-bite focused, runway-model delivered infotainment programs. Superbowl I (1967) focused on a championship football game; Superbowl XLI (2007) featured many eye-catching venues—a half-time spectacular, fireworks, and outlandish commercials—as well as the game itself. Commercials that once touted the advan- tages of products now use drama, humor, and sensuality to evoke excitement.

Churches have followed suit with an intentional avoidance of dead air during worship services and the use of segues to connect one

“A Million More in ’54!” was the rally cry among Southern Baptists 50-plus years ago, drawing us together, submerging individual efforts into a nationwide communal ef- fort of evangelism. Today individuals seek out churches that fit their own particular needs. In 1961, John F. Kennedy challenged the nation, “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” Today the common view is that churches and government at all levels exist to serve the particular needs of indi- viduals, whatever those needs might be.

This sea change of worldview is pervasive and undermines group efforts everywhere. It is a worldview that must be deconstructed in our churches so that we can, to- gether, “grow in every way into Him who is the head—Christ. From Him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building up itself in love by the proper working of each individual part” (Eph 4:15–16). Believers find greater meaning as part of the larger community.

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