When I first began to have conversations with our children’s leaders about moving toward gospel-centrality in our curriculum, it was in response to reading a “take-home” sheet given to my child one Sunday after services. I was blown away how the well-meaning lesson excised Jesus and his work from any and all commands to tell the truth, honor your parents, etc. I also noticed it was one of the more popular children’s curriculum in church-world. Indeed, I had other pastor-friends using the same in their churches. It’s dearth of gospel both angered and motivated me to action.
I asked our children’s leader to give me the next six months of curriculum. I wanted to overview it, see if the lesson I read was simply an outlier to what would otherwise be solid stuff, or was a serious overhaul needed? It didn’t take long to realize the lesson my son had brought home was simply par for the course – mostly moralism with little to no gospel at all.
But how could I help my children’s leader see what I saw? I called her into my office, explained my struggle with the curriculum, and then handed her two highlighters. One orange, the other green. I told her to review the next six months of curriculum and to highlight in orange statements that equated to LAW and highlight in green those parts she believed equated to GRACE.
Looking back on it, I think that one activity did more for her realizing the need for gospel-centrality than hours of discussion about the theological reasons for making Jesus the center of it all.
A few days later she returned to my office, placed the curriculum before me, and stated with great sobriety, “Yancey, we’ve got to change what we’re using. Now!” She opened up her notebook to what was essentially pages painted orange with little speckles of green here and there. Some entire sections without any green at all! To her credit she had painstakingly overviewed each section. Several empty orange highlighters later she was converted and convinced – we desperately needed children’s curriculum which intentionally pointed to the gospel (not our behavior) as our hope.
This highlighter approach is the initial pass that any curriculum we get on hands on goes through. Today, we may not use literal highlighters, but it’s only because we have a better idea of what to look for. I would suggest, however, to do the highlighter exercise with your children’s team and the curriculum you are using (and considering to use). Do it individually first. Getting together later should foster great conversations about why some chose orange while others didn’t (or even used green). This will only deepen your teams ability to look at things with gospel-centric lenses.
So, for us, the first step in processing children’s curriculum is a filtered pass.
Next post will look at the second step in CCCC’s filtered process…