I have the privilege of taking several sixth through eighth graders the basics of the Christian faith. We call this process confirmation or catechism class. It’s a blast; nearly every one of them chooses to be there. Their parents did not force them to come; in fact, only one has even one parent who’s a member of any church. These kids have met Jesus. The Holy Spirit created faith in their hearts. Now, they want to know more about Jesus!
And here comes the problem. I want to teach them. There’s a formalized curriculum for such teaching within our church body. I started with that. And… it’s failing.
The curriculum assumes that the students have gone through Sunday school and likely years of Christian dayschool. It assumes that the students know “basic” Bible stories. It assumes that the students have the skills to look up multiple Bible references quickly to get through, on average, nine references in a class period.
These kids don’t have that background. Last week I had to tell the story of David and Goliath… because only one of them had even heard of the story.
Now, the curriculum appears fine if you’ve got a traditional Lutheran grade school setting. My setting ain’t that. Which means… time to find something new. A different way to teach God’s timeless truths to young people. And at least for the moment it may mean I have to wing it. Here’s the current plan:
I’m going to follow the outline provided in the current curriculum. So we’ll cover the same main points of each lesson. For instance, this Thursday we’ll be covering what the 2nd Commandment says not to do (and the week after what it does say to do). But rather than look up… let’s see here… eleven Bible verses that illustrate the point, we’re going to look up one Bible story and read it together. And we’ll talk about it. What does God want in the story? How did the people fail to do that? What does that mean for us?
Yes, it’s basically Sunday School. We’ll go deeper (I hope!) than a typical grade school Sunday School lesson. But I’ve noticed… the kids love stories. They listen to that. They “stick” better. So why not use that?
This is obviously going to take some time and refining. I have a lot more pondering to do on the subject, and if you’ve faced similar problems, feel free to share. I’d like to not reinvent the wheel!