As we come into a new school year cycle, many student ministers find themselves staring at a blank computer screen. It is that time again for a plan for mid-week teaching, small groups, Sunday school, and events for the fall. All of these detail and planning items tend to fall at the same time just as you are recovering from the PTSD from that middle school lock-in or the queasy stomach that still haunts you from meals at student camp.
In the middle of this time of transition, curriculum is a great tool to rescue your time, to-do list, and sanity. Today, I want to offer some thoughts on why choosing to use curriculum can help you and allow you to lead a better student ministry.
Curriculum provides you with a solid plan.
Coming up with constant creative teaching plans are a struggle for even the most seasoned of student ministers. Curriculum provides you with options of pre-processed plans that have been strategically created to communicate truth in a compelling way.
When you approach curriculum development on your own, chances are that you are the lone idea person in the room. With a curriculum, you are buying access to the best ideas from a creative team which leads to better ideas.
Have you ever had an idea or lesson that you tried that died midway through your teaching time? In that moment you didn’t know whether to dismiss students, preach a funeral, or go online to post your resume? A curriculum has been tested with other students and student ministries so that the chances of a slow, painful death are reduced.
Curriculum provides a strategic path for a student’s spiritual growth.
Throughout the Bible and church history, the Christian life has been pictured as a journey. We journey closer to God through a process of discipleship as we learn to imitate Jesus in our actions and decisions. Discipleship is a strategic path of growth for students.
Curriculum helps provide you with a strategic path for the discipleship of the students in your ministry. Whether that path is focused on studying a particular portion of scripture, a biblical theme, or topic, curriculum leads students on a journey.
Through this journey, teachers and leaders can come alongside students as a guide and mentor as they walk the strategic path of the material together. The guides are positioned to speak truth, life, and wisdom into students as they learn truths from God’s Word throughout their journey and help students to see how truth relates to real life.
Curriculum allows you to equip others to serve in ministry.
Ministry is best done with a team. The more people you have speaking truth into the lives of your students while walking the strategic path of discipleship; the more likely you are going to have every student feel connected to a caring adult. It is through these relationships with caring adults that students can process their own spiritual journey.
Curriculum allows you to help equip others to serve in ministry because it is a tool that can allow others to clearly communicate truth and find their own voice speaking into the lives of the students. It also allows people to determine and use their own spiritual gifts.
Building a teaching team through curriculum allows you not just to minister to students but gives you a ministry to adults on your team as well. Raising up others into ministry expands your impact not only to your students but to those whom your team will impact as well.
Curriculum gives you tools to connect students and parents to each other and God’s Word throughout the week.
As Christians, we know that engaging with God’s Word is key for spiritual growth and development. Though we likely would preach that our students should not merely be Christians at church events, what are we doing to help equip them and their parents to be Christ-followers throughout the week?
A good curriculum provides ways to connect students to the Word through devotions for the week. These devotions help to ground students in truth and to reconnect them to the topic or theme they were exploring in God’s Word at church.
A good curriculum also gives parents ideas on how to begin a spiritual conversation with their student. Parents are still the greatest spiritual influencer in the lives of their students. Why would we not help come alongside parents to multiply their own spiritual influence through conversations? Curriculum provides the tools to connect the teaching at church to the conversation around the dinner table.
Curriculum frees you up to minister to students.
Discipleship happens at the speed of relationships. As student ministers, we know that relationships are essential to ministry. In thinking back on my own time as a student in youth group, I cannot tell you a single sermon or message that my youth pastor preached, but I can tell you that he loved me and would do anything for me. This is the call of student ministry to be there to disciple, care for, and minister to students.
Curriculum clears your schedule from one other administratively focused task to free you up to do what God has called you to do - speak life and truth into students through relationships. It is clearly worth the investment of resources to free you up to pursue the mission that God has given you.
Taking something off of your to-do list also allows you space for divine moments. Whether that is a conversation with a student, a moment where tragedy has struck, or an opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus in your community, margin space allows you to listen to God and be a part of His work.
As you find yourself staring at the blank screen in front of you, a great curriculum is an asset to you and your ministry. Why would you not take advantage of this great tool?
And a reminder to us all as we begin a new season of student ministry: don’t miss the true work of God in your ministry because you find yourself drowning in the details of leading your ministry.