Saturday, December 16, 2006

Sunday School Curriculum

"The church exists ultimately for the sake of the glory of the Triune God." (Stanley Grenz, Created for Community, Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 217)

Sunday School curriculum is an important tool in Church education, especially for children. Many teachers rely on them for a systematic Church teaching programme. One such curriculum is Henry Blackaby's Experiencing God. Wagner and Halliday observed two groups who use it. Of the first, he said that many who have used Experiencing God came out with a greater understanding of what it means to experience God. On the other hand, there was another group that went through the complete curriculum and did not find it satisfactory. Wagner and Halliday commented:

"The first group focused on God and asked him to produce the desired results through the curriculum, while the second group focused on the curriculum and expected it to produce the desired results." (E Glenn Wagner & Steve Halliday. The Church You've Always Wanted Zondervan, 2002, 167)

Simply put, for one group, the focus is on God, and the other the focus is on self. One expects from God, while the other expects 'magic' from the curriculum. While one is open to experiencing God in God's way and timing, the other expects some self-fulfilment in their own time and place. Whenever there are mismatched expectations, there will be frustration. On what basis do we choose Sunday School curriculum? I believe that the gospel of Mark has a lot to teach us.

"And he was teaching them many things in parables, and was saying to them in his teaching," (Mark 4:2)

Jesus taught in parables. Parables are stories, narrative messages that many people can relate to. He spoke to large crowds, meaning different mix of people of various age. I believe that any Sunday School curriculum must incorporate the art of story telling as well. Better still, every story ought to be a personal story of struggle or victory. A living story is better than an dead text. A personal event is better than an impersonal event. Sunday School teachers should not be too quick to blame the curriculum. The best curriculum that operates under a bad philosophy will fare worse than a mediocre curriculum under a good philosophy. God is over all curriculums and cannot be 'boxed in'. Maybe, curriculum ought NOT to be placed as a 'barrier' between teachers and students. How about putting the curriculum next to the teacher/student, allowing constant interaction, and using the curriculum as a guide? We need to choose a curriculum as one of the means to reflect or urge our push and longing for God.

Just as the church exists for the glory of God, we ought to use (or NOT to use) the curriculum for the glory of God. That is why a prayerful heart and a discerning mind will be the best senses for the Sunday School class each time they met. Such an attitude will transcend curriculum by many miles, to the point that curriculum or not, we still desire to seek and love God.


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