To Write or Not to Write – part 2
I wrote up a little article about curriculum usage for a magazine that has not been used so far (their theme was pushed back until early next year). So I thought I would share it with you, and maybe use any feedback you might have to offer to help make improvements before re-submitting it in January.
Make sure you read part one before reading this post.
You know your students – At least you should. If you have been leading and teaching your group for any real length of time, you should have gotten to the point where you know what our students need. The basics that we all need to learn and re-learn are all there. But when it comes to your group, there are bound to be certain issues and practices that your group needs to focus on more often in a ministry context. Live in an area where teen pregnancy skyrockets? You might need to spend more time in group teaching on premarital sex, love, commitment, and sex in general. Have an epidemic of… shall we say rough language? You may need to devote more time and frequency to the power of words and our call as Christians to edify and work together as the body. I worked with a group once that was entirely clueless about Evangelism. So I crafted a four-part series that explored our call to do so as Christians, some history behind it, different techniques, and gave our students an opportunity to practice what they learned.
It gets you into Scripture – A lot of times when we use curriculums others have written, or retreats in a can, we fall into the trap of only reading from those documents. We forget about the need to read Scripture for ourselves, and we become little more than parrots, regurgitating other people’s words. This can also run us into the horrible trap of not truly preparing, and giving our students information that either conflicts with our own personal theology, or that of our church. I have fallen into this trap at least once, and more often than that if I am truly honest. There was one evening in particular where I was leading a Bible study and halfway through, I realized that the study was written by someone (or several someones) that came from a radically different theological school than I do… and I had to scramble and stumble to correct the theological differences. By writing your own curriculum you assure that you are completely familiar with the material, and that you yourself are both learning and growing as a disciple. But there is more to writing than just reading Scripture…
It encourages you to study Scripture – Piggybacking off the previous point, writing your own curriculum forces you to study Scripture. By writing your own lessons, you have to really get into studying the Scripture for yourself. You have to find the original context and the contemporary application for your students. And for yourself…
It forces you to learn – If you write your own curriculum, you really should be learning as much as, if not more than your students will. It would not make sense for a science teacher to educate their pupils without knowing exactly what they were attempting to teach, would it? The same is true of Youth Leaders. We can only teach so far as our own knowledge goes.
It’s affordable – Unfortunately, money does frequently enter into this equation. I have worked for churches in the past that could not afford to purchase curriculum. We had to write our own out of necessity. And even though many curriculums available are affordable, we do need to be aware of our spending habits. If a youth ministry spends their entire budget on curriculum, where is money coming from for other aspects of their ministry?
It prepares you – You wrote it, so you should be fully prepared, right?