Category Archives: Curriculum

A New Heart, A New Spirit

While not new terms, discipleship and spiritual renewal are having a resurgence across denominational circles. And it is often misunderstood in terms of a “movement.”

For some, “renewal” implies a new revivalism, while for others it is simply synonymous with a particular expression of renewal such as the Charismatic Movement, Cursillo, or Tres Dias of many years ago (and in some circles continues). There are those who perceive in the emphasis on “renewal” as self-indulgent flight into personal interiority by well-off churchgoers unwilling to confront the many pressing social and political problems that surround us.

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Writing & Evaluating Curriculum & Books for All God’s People

Over the past few months I have been cleaning out files from forty years of pack-ratting my Christian Education resources. Many are very dated and not pertinent any longer, many are dated but have stood the test of time, and many have a combination of “this is so wrong” combined with “this is still valid.” This post will be sharing some documents from this third category, so please take it for what it is and recognize where it falls very short (and harmful). But I feel there is enough in the two documents that you can download (understanding they were written thirty years ago) to glean from.

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New Curriculum Charts + A New Normal

Every March or April I update my curriculum charts for children’s and youth ministries. This year it has been done in fits and starts as I wondered if they will make any difference now. As we begin a new normal in planning, we need to consider that most likely we will be still social distancing come a new academic year. When churches DO open back for worship, life will be different – sitting farther apart, no touching, perhaps no singing, and most likely no Church School in classrooms. This may be the tipping point in which Sunday school will have a quiet death.

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Planning Calendar for 2020-2021

I have always believed that the Season of Easter is a time to plan and look to the future in all manner of things. Depending on where you live in the northern hemisphere, it is a time to think about planting: mapping out your garden, starting seeds, or actually putting plants into the ground. For me it was also about evaluating the past academic year in secular education or the Church.

I’ve written and shared plenty of ideas on how to evaluate your programming and curriculum. I’ll soon be posting new curriculum charts for children, youth, and adult formation. And by popular demand, I offer the Christian Formation Planning Calendar for 2020-2021 (Pentecost 2020 thru August 2021) in two formats for you to adapt to your own context and needs.

2020-2021 Planning Calendar (docx)

2020-2021 Planning Calendar (pdf)

  • Column 1: Date / Season
    • Date
    • Sunday noted on the church calendar
    • Reading designation (proper)
  • Column 2: Sunday Readings appointed for the day (following the Episcopal version of the Revised Common Lectionary). This is not the same as the ’79 BCP lectionary or the standard RCL. Episcopalians like to tweak and amend! Track 1 and Track 2 are offered when applicable.
    • Old Testament / Hebrew Scripture reading
    • Psalm or Canticle
    • New Testament reading
    • Gospel
  • Column 3: Observances
    • These can be civic (governmental holidays) or ecumenical (shared with other Christians widely)
    • Space to fill in your own local practice
  • Column 4: Church Events
    • For you to fill in with your church’s events or notes for the day
  • Column 5: Notes
    • Special days (sacred and secular) that will occur during this week are noted
    • Space for your notations

Don’t forget to plug-in your teacher trainings and workshops, conference opportunities, seasonal projects for Advent and Lent, pageant and play rehearsals, mission trips, VBS, recognitions and presentations, school vacations and holidays, and social activities. As requested, you can download a pdf version or a Word version.

Stay tuned in the coming days for the updated curriculum charts. A lot has changed in the past year with numerous new resources and a few that have been discontinued. Certainly our lens may have changed a bit in what we choose to use and adapt with new questions to ask: How can I use this resource if/when we cannot meet face-to-face and in person on Sunday (or any other time)? How is this resource adaptable for use at home and online?

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.

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