I just realized that I’ve had an unused curriculum resource just wasting away on the shelf. It’s a little old, but it doesn’t look old like that Petra Praise VHS does sitting next to your used-once-can’t-be-used-again Nooma DVDs. It’s pretty comprehensive too, weighing in at about 1,189 weeks of material. That’s nearly 23 years of quality curriculum.
It’s the Bible.
I’m a curriculum writer. I’m good at it, too. I can wrap a spiritual concept around a dodgeball or a deck of playing cards faster than you can get your hands on your copy of YS’ 101 Ideas for(whatever-that-was-called). I can make scripture jump through hoops and do amazing things, dragging out nuances you might never have noticed on your own. But I’ve realized over the last couple of years that none of that matters.
I mean, of course it matters. It’s always helpful to have things pointed out to us in new ways. And there are times when you really do need to go for a theme or topic and bring scripture to that instead of the other way around. But here are a couple of things I’ve realized are shortchanging our kids’ spiritual experiences by not just submerging them in scripture for scripture’s sake more often:
1. As talented of a writer as I am, our youth couldn’t tell you what we talked about last year or the year before. They might remember the big-picture concept or the t-shirt that went with a series, but all the little things are gone. They remember that they came to our church and we all must have had a good time because they’re still coming.
2. Even if they’re subconsciously hanging on to something we said to them, we’re not really teaching them to do anything. We’re like all of the public television you’ve ever watched. Informative, briefly engaging until the thing you actually wanted to watch comes back on. Unless it’s that one thing with Roy Orbison, because then you’ll sit through 3 pledge breaks just to hear him sing Elvis Costello’s The Comedians, because man, what an incredible song.
My point is this: most of our curriculum hands fish to our kids instead of teaching them to fish. And if you’ll stop and listen, you might realize that they often don’t know the context of the scriptures you’re using, so even if you used it well, the full impact is lost on them. They end up with a character list instead of an understanding of the narrative.
So Sunday night we tried a new thing. It’s an old thing, but it was new for us. We ate a snack supper, played a game of HORSE that took too long and eventually turned into CAT to try to speed things up. Then we sat down and read the first chapter of Matthew. Then we pulled it apart. We broke down old reflexes of trying to pull all of the gospels together into one Christmas story and just looked at what it says in Matthew. We overcame our desire to skip the genealogy at the beginning and instead dug into it. We ended up exploring the significance of the carefully organized grouping from Abraham to David, from David to exile, and from exile to Jesus. It was unscripted, and it was wonderful. Just sitting in it for that long finally allowed someone to notice how odd it is to do all of that work to trace from Abraham through David to Jesus and then say that Jesus is descended from David if Joseph isn’t really Jesus’ father.
See? Now we’re getting somewhere. Give it a try. I’ll bet you’ve got the same curriculum sitting on your shelf.