Category Archives: Curriculum

Benchmarks for Christians

From time to time the Forma Facebook Group has a post from someone (clergy, youth minister, Christian educator) who is asking if anyone has a “rubric” for what children should learn in each year of “Sunday School” (or whatever you call it). I don’t want to disparage anyone who asks such a question; we live in a culture of moving from one milestone to another and having to “prove ourselves” in our accomplishments – especially if you want to “move on” to the next step, phase, class, or even graduate with that degree. And often employment, promotion, or a raise is determined by our success. But honestly, this question drives me nuts.

For those of you who have known me for years, I get this sort of question all the time. What curriculum should we be using? What should we be teaching? What does the Church (in my case, the Episcopal Church) say we need to teach? To that I always answer, “There is no one answer. Tell me about your context.” What would Jesus say? “Love one another.”

I don’t want to rehash my mantra here. (I’m saving that for other subsequent posts in the coming weeks as I dig through old boxes of books, articles, and research papers written.) But I will share what I have learned in my 40 years of ministry – benchmarks don’t form disciples of Christ.

Continue reading Benchmarks for Christians

2019 Children’s Curriculum Chart

What might have been used in children’s materials in the 1950s or 60s.
Not any more!

If it’s April it must mean I need to update my curriculum charts. So here’s the first installment, focusing on resources that I would consider curriculum for children – meaning they include lesson plans for a teacher to use in a formation setting. By children I mean those between the ages of birth (nursery) through age 12 (5th grade).

With every year comes some new resources while others cease to be published. There has definitely been an uptick in the number of curricular products now available as downloadable documents, either as pdfs or editable docs. Illustrations are more modern and represent more diversity, although I sometimes wonder if publishers are jumping on the “Disney Wagon” in making everything look like a cartoon, including a princess or two. Costs are definitely going up (the cost of paper has skyrocketed this past year due to tariffs); perhaps another reason why downloading materials is becoming more prevalent.

In any case, here is the April 2019 Curriculum Chart for Children. In my research, I did discover more than is presented here. For example, I have chosen not to include one product (I won’t share name or publisher) that offers a giant poster called “From Adam to Jesus” which is a direct family tree and timeline of how Jesus descended directly from Adam and Eve. And I won’t share one that includes a mission statement that “the Old Testament is fulfilled in the birth of Jesus Christ.” To ease your processes in evaluating and choosing curriculum, here are my tips:

Care of Creation

It its 79th General Convention held in July 2018, the Episcopal Church passed 19 resolutions related to care of the environment and climate change. Many resolutions cite their strong theological basis in their first paragraph(s). A013 begins, “As disciples of Jesus Christ, we recognize that the Earth is the Lord’s (Psalm 24), has been made in and through Christ (John 1) and we are placed in it as a garden planet (Genesis 2).” Similarly, A018 connects climate change to Christian mission and ethics: “Resolved, that climate change be recognized as a human-made threat to all God’s people, creatures and the entire created order, while particularly placing unjust and inequitable burdens and stresses on native peoples, those displaced by environmental change, poor communities and people of color.”

How are we to implement such resolutions in our churches and homes, let alone our national government? For one, the Episcopal Church has a government relations office that can help lobby for the care of creation. In our congregations, we can talk the time to study the issues, understand what we have the power to do and change, then plan a course of action. Below are resources that you may want to consider in your planning for the upcoming program year.

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For children: Continue reading Care of Creation

Spring 2018 Curriculum Charts are here!

When consulting with congregations about choosing curriculum, I always advise that post-Easter is the best time to start the discernment and review process––not in August or September when you suddenly want to try something new! So, now that we are in Eastertide (Alleluia!), below are the updated charts of curricular resources that are published for children (ages 0-12) and youth (ages 13-18), as well as confirmation program resources (for youth and adults) from a variety of denominational perspectives. Continue reading Spring 2018 Curriculum Charts are here!

A Back to Basics Q & A

Recently I have been invited to give workshops in numerous locations on the basics; the core documents and key websites that I believe anyone involved in Christian formation with children, youth, or adults needs to know about. For January’s Forma Conference workshop, I put together a handout where they are all located in one place.

But for those who want the documents with more of an explanation – here goes. Think of it as a catechism for Episcopal educators: a question with some answers. These are the questions I am frequently asked, and how I respond:

Q. What is the curriculum authorized by the Episcopal Church?

A. The Episcopal Church does not have an authorized, published curriculum for any age. If anything, all of what is taught should be based on The Baptismal Covenant and An Outline of the Faith (also known as The Catechism found in the Book of Common Prayer. However, the Episcopal Church, via a General Convention resolution and Task Force assigned for its implementation, created a seminal text: Called To Teach and Learn: A Catechetical Vision and Guide for the Episcopal Church  (1994). Every church was sent one. Many churches put them on the bookshelf or in a closet and never opened its covers. You can download it here, as well as a companion piece written by The Rev. Canon Joe Russell, Discovering Called to Teach and Learn. The Spanish version is here. Continue reading A Back to Basics Q & A