Better late than never! I’ve finally updated my curriculum charts of resources that are available to use with youth (13-18) and adults (post-high school), with some assistance from Jose Reyes, a seminarian at Virginia Theological Seminary and summer intern at the Center for the Ministry of Teaching. He did much of the grunt work to check out websites and costs, the two areas that change the most from year to year with curricular products. And his work spurred my work to update the annual (Spring – ha!) charts that I compile. Thank you, Jose!
It’s a much tougher task to find materials that are theologically appropriate, timely, and flexible than it is for children’s resources. These charts reflect most (but not all) material that is available from mainstream publishers across the denominational / non-denominational level. The charts are not my endorsements of any resource in particular, and for those who have been to my curriculum workshops, you know my bias and whence it comes.
A word about the charts and what each column represents, in order from left to right:
- Title or name of resource
- Publisher – To me, this is important. It gives me an idea of the theological perspective and stance of who is doing the writing and who has editorial oversight. Knowing who the publisher is is helpful. For example, I expect baptismal language in Episcopal material; references to Martin Luther in ELCA materials, and little sacramental materials in independent and non-denominational materials. Doctrinal (or lack thereof) statements can often me the implicit message that an untrained eye may not be able to pick up. Website – how to find it, including sample materials which is 99% standard practice now.
- Foundation Statement – What is the purpose of this resource? It there a theological underpinning that drives the content? Sometimes this is very hard to find in the material.
- Content and Articulation – What kind of resource is this? Is it lectionary based? Thematic? Six weeks, quarterly, of a full year’s worth of lessons? What version of the bible is used, if any?
- Teacher Support – Is the leader left to their own devices? Are there specific lesson plans? What support is available (or necessary), such as teacher training or online support? Are teachers given the answers to questions asked in the material? (There is a pro and con to that, depending on how experienced and discerning your teachers are.)
- Format – How is the material presented and with what materials? Online? Print? DVDs, participant materials, etc.
- Ages – What age level is the material written for? Always check this out as the audience it is designed for is not always in par with your audience of the same level due to experience, maturity, or ability.
- Cost and Usability – Sometimes this is where the rubber hits the road. The snazziest, most attractive, and comprehensive material is out-of-range of most budgets. While a leader’s guide may be reasonable, there, may be so many extraneous pieces that are essential for the program to work that once you add up all the components, it has become quite costly. Curriculum is expensive to publish – and print rapidly goes out of date and is tossed out. More materials are now available online and downloadable, allowing the user to choose what to print or not print. And with the use of tablets, teachers can often load a pdf of the lesson plan on their device and bring it to class with them, eliminating paper altogether.
So here are the charts for Fall 2014. Like curricula, they are a tool to help you in your ministry. Remember, the best curriculum is YOU, your faith and your story paired along with the stories of those you teach. And of course, we’ve got the bible, prayer book, or whatever traditions that ground your congregation and denomination.
Permission is given to post these to judicatory websites and resource centers as long as copyright information is included. Permission is also given to copy and distribute on the local level for congregations discerning resources for program planning.