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Our textbooks disagree. In The Teaching Ministry of the Church, Lawson discusses the possibility of using curriculum resources produced outside the group using them. She asks, “Is it appropriate, then, to use nondenominational materials as long as their statement of doctrine is acceptable?” and answers, “That is certainly a possibility as long as the leaders and teachers using the resources understand that any particular doctrinal issue may need to be interpreted” (2008, p. 322). On the other hand, in Christian Education Handbook, Stubblefield quotes Brown: “Any material that offers an unacceptable message must be discarded, no matter how teachable or attractive it is. Generally, it is more important for material to pass the message test and be teachable that it is to be attractive” (1996, p. 222). Which is right?
No doubt, every member of this class would have an opinion based on their religious educational background and upbringing. We may have had workbooks in our own Bible classes that appealed to us because of the color scheme or layout styles, instead of repetitive columns of boring black and white with scary blanks to fill it. We may have favored handouts that included cultural references from our ethnicity or that acknowledged our group’s entertainment and music preferences. We may simply like the more familiar tone in one kind of material as opposed to another, more formal presentation. Having such a preference is fair; deciding what kind of Bible class material to use based mainly on those preferences is wrong.
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Without a doubt, Stubblefield and Brown are right. The material you choose matters; it should consist of the message God wants taught. Material that is written by a denominational group will promote the teachings of that denomination; that is expected. What if that message is not what the Bible teaches? Even though we might acknowledge the group’s good intentions in producing the material, dare we move beyond the message God intends?
Should we use nondenominational material that provides choices for matters that God regulated in His Word? No, we should not. When God speaks on a matter (as in partaking the Lord’s Supper every Sunday Acts 20:7), we do not have the option to consider “options.” Material that discusses such options and leads the student to accept the written Word is good as it invites the student to reason together (Is. 1:18). Material that discusses options that come from the mind of man as though they are on an equal footing with the commandments of God are erroneous and should not be used.NEED IN 10 HOURS Or LESS Assignment
Brown was right about continuity of Bible class curriculum, too. It should teach “all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). I have heard kids complain sometimes because when they promoted to a new class, Miss A. Teacher started all over again at Genesis and they had just spent several weeks on the creation account. Congregations who let teachers choose what lessons to teach run a very real risk of classes repeating the “easy” stories ad infinitum and never getting to the meat of the Word. Someone in leadership needs to have the big picture, to know what each class is studying, and to ensure that every student has sufficient teaching of the whole Bible.
Yes, that is a big task. It isn’t easier when the congregation is small, although that would be a natural conclusion. When the congregation is large, a cadre of leaders assists in this process. When the congregation is small, this job often falls to a single person. Stubblefield recommends that these leaders train others; in effect, this person becomes a “Moses,” holding on to the big picture role and putting others in place to fulfill the various roles needed in the small congregation.
Lawson, M. (2008). Selecting and Evaluating Curriculum. In W. R. Yount (Eds.), The teaching ministry of the church (pp. 320-333). B & H.
Stubblefield, J. (1999). Christian Education and the small church. In B. Powers (Ed.), Christian Education Handbook (pp. 215-224). B & H.
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