When was the last time you stopped and asked, “What are we accomplishing with our Bible study groups?” Between all the responsibilities a student pastor has to juggle each week, it is easy to overlook this area of our ministry or pay it little attention by just purchasing some material at random to keep volunteer leaders and students busy for an hour each week. Or, we may feel the pressure to simply choose a Bible study based on the latest topical or cultural fad, handcuffed by the idea of a teaching material we think our students want versus what they need. However, by haphazardly choosing our Bible study material with little regard for how it will serve our overall ministry objectives, we will not only be doing a disservice to our volunteer leaders and students, but to ourselves as well.
So if the choice of the right curriculum is vital to your overall ministry objectives, what are some guiding principles in choosing the right one for your context? Consider these:
- Clear and Robust Framework
Every good curriculum should clearly state what makes it unique and how it delivers that uniqueness in the group context. It should make clear its values, what it intends to emphasize, and the methodology employed to deliver on those values. Related to this, it should have a clear plan of study, highlighting where it has been and where it is moving in the months and years ahead.
- Easy-to-Follow Lessons
Being able to easily and effectively walk through a lesson is part of what makes a good curriculum good. You may come across several curriculums with excellent content, but if the way they are structured doesn’t help the leader effectively deliver that content, it won’t be very helpful. Good content and an effective teaching template are both essential for choosing a curriculum.
- Relevancy AND Theological Structure
Another part of what makes a good curriculum is its ability to achieve relevancy in study topic AND theological structure at the same time. In other words, the topics it covers shouldn’t be chosen just for the sake of relevancy, but also because the topics chosen are theologically grafted into the biblical testimony.
- Connects Families
Finally, you want a curriculum that connects parents to what their teen is learning. It should be an expectation that your curriculum decisions include some sort of parent connection that allows parents to get a glimpse into what their student is learning, as well as some questions and points of family application for parents to discuss inside the home. Having the tools and resources to connect parents will help you in achieving not only greater means of discipling your students, but families as a whole.