Choosing curriculum for a teen Bible class can be even more challenging than choosing a great curriculum for a children’s Bible class. There are more options than a decade or two ago, but many ministries still are constantly searching for the next Bible study that will engage teens and last more than a few weeks. As you look through your options, there are some questions you need to consider. Since no curriculum is perfect, these questions will help you know whether what you have found merely needs to be tweaked or if you need to keep looking.
- Does the curriculum include Bible stories as well as Bible passages? Teens need continued exposure to Bible stories. Story telling is one of the best ways for students to remember some of the important information God wants them to know. Bible stories also allow teens with little exposure to the Bible to learn the stories they haven’t heard before.
- Does the curriculum allow students to ponder the “big ideas” of faith, while still allowing teachers to correct misunderstandings? Students should not leave a lesson with any misunderstandings. If their thoughts conflict with God’s teachings, they should be corrected before the class ends. If not, other students may adopt flawed understandings under the assumption a lack of correction means acceptance and approval.
- Does the curriculum provide student questions that will encourage students to move to higher levels of thinking? In addition to remembering the facts of a lesson, questions should ask students to demonstrate: understanding, the ability to apply what was learned to real life, the ability to analyze using concepts learned and the ability to evaluate and create using the lesson. Not every student will be capable of answering all of these types of questions, but asking them will encourage students to process the information learned on deeper levels.
- Does the curriculum provide practical application examples of the principles covered from the Bible? Application principles should apply to your students and the lives they lead. Since curriculum cannot predict every environment in which your teens may be during a period of time, you and your students may need to provide different practical examples than the ones given by the curriculum.
- Does the curriculum teach students the steps or processes of living the application principles? Christian Life Skills must be taught in many cases. Practical skills like conflict resolution, stewardship (budgeting), and more should be actively taught. Otherwise students may not know how to actually do the things the lesson is encouraging them to do.
- Does the curriculum provide meaningful, experiential activities? If students are asked to do an activity, it should connect in meaningful ways to the Bible story or scripture being studied. Teens often appreciate activities over lecture type classes. Activities can increase student understanding and memory, if they are meaningful and experiential.
- Does the curriculum encourage students to participate in independent faith activities outside of church? Teens should be challenged and encouraged to be independently reading their Bibles, praying, making godly choices, sharing their faith and more.
- If the curriculum addresses baptism, does it accurately reflect baptism as taught in the Bible and practiced in the early church? The Bible requires, and the early church practiced, baptism at the age of accountability by immersion for the remission of sins and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Any other way of becoming a Christian was created by man, does not follow scriptural requirements and should not be taught to others.
- Does the curriculum involve heavy use of video (especially video filmed in a different decade)? Too much video allows students to tune out entirely, so video should preferably be used in clips of three minutes or less. Be aware that video with clothes and slang from another decade distracts students. They also tend to discount anything shared in obviously dated videos as being out of touch with their reality.
- Does the text of the lesson or the activity require a knowledge of secular culture to fully comprehend the example? Or are characters from secular culture added to the telling of Bible stories? Culture changes quickly. What is popular in one area may have no exposure in another area. If a secular cultural reference is outdated or unknown, understanding is lost (not added) by using it. Adding secular fictional characters to tell, observe or participate in Bible stories can confuse children and even some teens. The secular character becomes part of the Bible in the mind of the student, or people in the Bible are reduced to fictional characters, rather than the real people they were in history.
Still can’t find what you want? Why not take a look at our Living the Christian Life teen curriculum. Designed to last longer than the average lesson, it gives you an opportunity to teach your students actual Christian life skills so they know how to do the things God wants them to do. Best of all, thanks to our donors, it’s free. You can find it on our website (along with teen devotional lessons) www.teachonereachone.org