Educational Ministry of the Church - Lesson 15

Curriculum Questions

Asking the right questions about the curriculum and the audience can help you identify what information to emphasize and how to present it effectively.

Gary Parrett
Educational Ministry of the Church
Lesson 15
Watching Now
Curriculum Questions

Congruence: Whom do we teach?

Part 3

VIII.  Curriculum Questions

A.  What assumptions does the publisher make about the consumers of this curriculum material?

B.  Who am I ministering to?

C.  In what ways are the assumptions of the publisher unlike who my learners are?

D.  What are the implied levels of the learners?

E.  What are the topics that are chosen?

F.  How are the topics approached?

G.  In what way are the Bible characters presented?

  • Seven questions that provide a framework for choosing and implementing curriculum.

  • Our misconceptions about Christian education can cause us to choose poor or inaccurate content and use ineffctive strategies.

  • The three essential tasks of the Church are worship, outreach and teaching.

  • Christian formation focuses on the process of becoming more like Christ.

  • Instructions for spiritual education from passages in the Old Testament and New Testament.

  • History of Christian education from the early church to modern Sunday school.

  • The Heidelberg Catechism provides essential elements for a Christian education curriculum.

  • The Torah contains the essence of what God wants us to know. Jesus clarifies and exemplifies the Torah.

  • A CORE curriculum should be Comprehensive, Orthodox, Reforming and focused on Essentials. Delivery systems may include bible studies, small groups, Sunday school and sermons.

  • The Ten Commandments are the basis for Old Testament Law and the core teaching of the New Testament.

  • Tailoring curriculum by taking into peoples' physical and spiritual developmental stages can make teaching more effective.

  • Tailoring curriculum by taking into peoples' physical and spiritual developmental stages can make teaching more effective.

  • A key element for effective education to take place is for teachers to know their students relationally.

  • Effective teachers know their audience and avoid attitudes and expressions that would create obstacles to communication.

  • Asking the right questions about the curriculum and the audience can help you identify what information to emphasize and how to present it effectively.

  • How you define teaching determines content and strategy.

  • Effective teaching engages the whole person.

  • When preparing curriculum, an effective teacher will take into account both the content and the audience.

  • Many people fill the role of teacher in your life at different times and in various ways.

  • Christian education involves recruiting, training, modeling, organizing and supporting people who volunteer to teach.

  • Being trained in skills for conflict resolution helps you to have realistic expectations and gives you the tools you need to effectively resolve situations as they arise.

Through this course, you will gain a deep understanding of the educational ministry of the church, its foundations, principles of teaching and learning, and the development of an effective educational ministry. You will also explore strategies for different age groups, including children, youth, and adults, and learn how to address contemporary issues such as cultural relevance, technology, media, and special needs inclusivity.

Educational Ministry of the Church 
Dr. Gary Parrett 
Curriculum Questions 
Lesson Transcript


If I'm using pre published materials. Here's here's a couple of questions that I want to ask. What assumptions does the publisher make about the consumers of this curriculum material? If I'm writing a curriculum book or a curriculum study, I have to have an audience in mind. You can't write to nobody. So you prepare a teaching material with somebody in mind. But the problem is, again, that the curriculum publishers are in Colorado Springs, and I'm in Boston, Massachusetts, so that's a problem all by itself. The other problem is because curriculum publishers have to sell their curriculum unless I'm linked to a denominational publisher and then maybe there's some denominational support here or it's a nonprofit organization, there could be other factors. But typically the publishers that most of us rely on, they have to sell. And what that usually translates, whether it's a curriculum publisher or a textbook. Publisher in the university. They have to write for sort of the lowest common denominator. So you don't want to be too specific with your target audience because you want to reach as many people as possible. So they write to a really big sort of audience. But as a reader of the curriculum, read through those lessons and you want to try to see who is the imaginary student that the curriculum publisher had in mind that has somebody in mind. So who is this imaginary student? Try to think who the publisher has in mind just by reading the questions. The illustrations. Who do they have in mind? And then start asking yourself questions about who am I really ministering to? Okay, that's who they're presupposing with this material.


But who am I teaching? In fact? And when we looked at our church, well, we weren't dealing with white, upper middle class suburbanite teenagers. We were dealing with Korean-American kids in midtown Manhattan. And it was a whole different world and a whole different experience. And we start to describe, you know, who are my kids, who are my learners, who are my adults? What are they like? Whoever the group is, and then put these two together and then concentrate on. In what ways are the assumptions of the publishers, unlike who my learners are? That becomes the challenge then, for cultural congruence. What can I do to make these materials a better fit for my learners? Given the fact that there's this disconnect between who the writers and publishers had in mind and who I have, in fact, what can I do? A couple of thoughts here. Where where do I look? Look at pictures and illustrations. If there are materials that you're going to hand out and everybody's going to have a copy of this, look at the pictures and illustrations that are used to the people pictured look like the people in our church. Simple question, but sometimes it's interesting. Publishers actually in recent years have gotten quite a bit better about this, although generally speaking, the evangelical church in America, the white white evangelical church in particular, is usually a few a few years behind the rest of society about this kind of things. So textbooks in the colleges would have started to have a multicultural look long before most of the main, main evangelical publishers did this. We taught a Bible study on the church to our teenagers. One time we use a curriculum. They had a picture of people's faces configured into the shape of a church building on the front cover.


And there are probably a hundred faces, just small faces packed into this church shaped design. And I notice when I look carefully at these hundred faces that there wasn't a single face that looked like the faces in my church. Not a single one. What do I do with that? Well, maybe what I can do at the level of pictures and illustrations, perhaps what I could do is if I have handouts, sometimes the publishers these days publish their materials in eight and a half by 11. Big books. You buy one book as a teacher and there's reproducible handouts. I always pay attention to copyright stuff. Please. Because what we do will teach more than what we say. It'd be interesting to teach a Bible study on the Ten Commandments. Thou shalt not steal with stolen Bible study materials. There's something wrong with that. But often there will be reproducible materials and sometimes read through the opening the opening section of your materials. How to use these Materials. Introduction Preface. Often there will be explicit instruction to the teacher, and sometimes it will say no part of these materials may be altered in any way, but other times it will say something like Feel free to customize these materials for your use. I can think of one book that I used in the past where there was an opening section where how to use this materials. And with each paragraph there was a little icon on the side when I was a pair of scissors, and this paragraph said, No one knows your students like you do. Please feel free to customize the handouts as you please. They were actually inviting us to clip out illustrations that we don't like and tack in new illustrations that we do.


These days you can do this really easily, of course, with computer, with the use of computer, not just the images, but especially digital cameras. If you're doing something on the church, you have a picture of your last church retreat. You slap that onto the handout instead of the handout picture that they gave you, and suddenly you're connecting better. So look at pictures and illustrations as one, as one place and other places. Look at the examples use. This will be relative to the issue of application. Bible study will always have some kind of of observation, interpretation, application flow. Look at when they're trying to bring this to a level of application. So they give an illustration, look at the kind of illustrations they use. Is this really a situation that describes something your learners are facing? If not, and that's your job, it's your job as a teacher to think, Well, how can I help my learners apply this truth to their lives? The publishers don't know you're learning, period. End of discussion. They may have read all the books on Gen X before they wrote the materials, but there is no Gen X anymore. I mean, you can almost say it that way, so you have to know them yourself. And what examples could I add to this? And by the way, if the publishers forbid me from altering their handouts, that doesn't forbid me from being a good teacher. I can always bring in additional handouts and I can always bring an additional list of questions myself. So the publishers may have at the level of question here, for example, examples used put next examples use questions used as well. Maybe the publisher has seven questions and one lesson to try to help application of the truth.


As I'm wrestling with this, I think these three here, these will fit my learners. These are questions that are worth asking of my learners, but I can think of three or four other ones, which would be even better. So maybe I just don't ask for the questions on the handout. I don't need to ask those. I'll ask for different ones. I bring them in myself. Another example of how we did this, just to flesh it out for you. We had one Bible study session with the youth group on facing pressures, and the illustrations that were used were about, you know, being a member of the sports team and you had to try to make the cut on the team or was that kind of illustration. But when I the youth group I was working with at the time, maybe one out of 100 of our kids was engaged on the sports team. So we found a host of other things which were really pressure for them. In our case, a lot of our kids felt daily pressure to excel in school from mom and dad. And from the community at large. Lot of pressure. So we changed the illustration throughout the football team and bring in just the academic pressure that you were feeling. So change the illustrations, add something because you know you're learning. That's cultural congruence and teaching. What's implied about my learners levels in terms of attention span, interest level, cognitive levels? How how do these assumptions fit my students? This is also another aspect that I would consider as a good teacher is I'm looking at materials. And as we said before, I found all of the materials were down here. When my students were capable of this, they were shooting down there.


Think about that. Raise some additional issues if you need to. What are the topics chosen? How are the topics approached? We've talked about that a little bit before as well. And the way the Bible characters are presented. Depending on your setting, you might find some Bible character whose story is really especially significant for the story of the people that you're ministering to. When I was ministering in with Korean-Americans, these are folks a lot of the kids I was ministering to had left one culture and moved to another culture, and they were struggling with living in another culture. And lo and behold, there's lots of Bible heroes who went through the same experience. And I can help help them at this level. Just tie a couple of these pieces together here with some methodology things. I think Larry Richards is responsible for this formula. I'm not sure of that, but that's the where it s where I got it from. Years ago, Larry Richards was an evangelical author or an evangelical leader in Christian education work, and he always put the lesson plan under this kind of a design hook book. Look into you do something in the lesson to attract people's attention, to let them know that this is pertinent to them. You take them to the book, let them see what the scriptures say about that, and then look deeper at what the Scriptures say about that and then move towards some decision. This should be pretty familiar because it's basically what most preachers do. You do this as a preacher, you find some kind of introduction that's going to grab attention and then you bring people to the book, have a closer look at the book, and then call a commitment. I hope that if I'm working with people 20, 30 years in ministry, that I don't have to work quite as hard on the hook anymore, that I think we get to a point person.


This is my thought where sometimes we can just start right at the book and people already know that the book is that they're mandated to pay attention and they don't need to be made to be attention, But put in some of the other terminology Now that we've already used here, this corresponds to the idea of opening the eyes and opening the ear. And so let people be attentive to something that they otherwise they might not be attentive to. Now we just let them see. That's interesting. That's something that I should pay attention to. And then I would plug in these words here, heads hearts and hands at the intellectual level, just being confronted with what's in the book, what the scriptures say about that intellectual level. Let's put them together here. This one merges down here in both the intellectual and the aspect of level. I wrestle with this truth and this claims upon my life, and then I'm called to the issue of obedience And the stuff that we saw from the Book of James, I think also fits in here as well.