Monday, November 09, 2009

Curriculum Writing: Yours or Someone else's

This past week I finished up a 4 week series in Elijah that I got from I heard Craig gives this series and I really liked it so I decided to teach it. I was amazed at the fact that when I went to their website to listen to the sermons again, they had all their graphics, banners, outlines and sermon notes for free. This got me more excited to teach the series and so I moved forward.

I have always used some form of prepared curriculum in our small groups, Sunday school and rarely for our large group lessons. I really liked the Elijah series and the use of their graphics, especially since our ministry doesn't have a graphics dept. I know there are some youth pastors who have issues with using curriculum that isn't original but I see it as a benefit to those who need it.

Here are some benefits to using purchased curriculum.

  1. Saves time - Not every youth pastor is fulltime paid and therefore need toanage their time in a different way. Using curriculum saves time and effort that can be used in other areas of the ministry
  2. Gives a better lesson - not every youth worker is gifted at developing a good lesson. As weird as this may seem, it is true
  3. More structure/graphics - A lot of mega-churches today are putting their lessons/sermons online for people to use. This includes lessons, outlines and especially graphics. This is a huge vendor to churches who may not have the talent or money to have their own graphics department.

Now, with that being said, I did find some problems with myself during this series.  There were times in the series when I thought everything worked and times when I just felt that everything fell flat.  Here are three pieces of advice for using pre-built curriculum.

  1. Don't use it word for word - This may be ok for a once off lesson but if you are doing a 3-6 week series, don't just pull it out of the box and try to read it off.  Make sure you read through it and know what is being said.  
  2. Adjust for your audience - Don't assume that a series that worked in another church will translate directly over to your group.  The series I used was delivered to adults, so I had to make adjustments and change it over for students.  Also, I am not Craig, so I had to adjust the stories and illustrations that he used.
  3. Do your own small study - Make sure you know that material more than just reading it.  While I used the pre-built series, I also did my own study on Elijah, read the chapters several times and did my usual lesson prep.  When I didn't do this, the lesson felt flat.
  4. Trust the Holy Spirit - Know that whether you wrote the lesson or are using someone else's, the Holy Spirit needs to be involved and can sometimes take over.  We need to allow for this and not expect to run things ourselves.

I have no problems using pre-built series but make sure that you adjust them for your own audience.  Remember, the person writing that series has written it for their specific audience and it won't always transfer directly to yours.  Make sure that the series is the right fight for your audience and not just something you think is cool.