Youth Sunday School Curriculum offers many options for you to consider. And because this decision is so important I highly encourage you to consider your options carefully. There are also three main features that I would look for as you make your curriculum decisions. First of all, look for a curriculum that is fairly easy to teach. You do not want it to be watered down but you do want it to be designed so that your teachers can still get fully prepared to teach in the limited time they have in their already busy schedules. Next, look for something that is student driven. You need to look for a curriculum that is geared towards making your students think, answer questions, and wrestle with scripture for themselves. Finally, look for something with extras. There are many options available that have devotionals or other discipleship materials that make the curriculum package a great value as well as helping your students grow further in their faith.
When it comes to youth Sunday School curriculum, going with the flow is not always a good thing. Because just because there is a new hot trend does not mean that will necessarily be best for your ministry. You have to take time to consider your students and the culture of your church and community to see if what ever idea or trend or idea you are considering, will be a fit for your context. But there is another layer to this.
Just because your church has always used a resources or always attended an event, does not mean that it always needs to in the future. For example, I know when it comes to Sunday School curriculum, many of us have a publisher that we automatically reorder from every semester or every quarter. This may be because it is easier or it could be because we are told we have to. But here is the thing, just because it is what we have always done does not mean it is best for today. Therefore you need to carefully consider what you do in your ministry based on what students are there and where you feel God wants to take them spiritually. This way you can make informed and wise decisions and not just take the easy road that always have been. Because what has always been done may be okay for you down the road but it may just not be right for today.
Youth Sunday School curriculum is not always the easiest thing to teach. That is why we have put our years of experience in teaching Sunday school to help make your teaching experience much more enjoyable. But also we want to offer you a few ideas that I think might help to improve upon your lessons. These pointers by no means mean that I think I have this all figured out. They are just merely some things I have learned over the years, most of the time after some pretty bad moments in teaching, that have helped me grow as a communicator.
1. Have an outline.- I cannot begin to express how important this is. Because without an outline you run the risk of rambling and going off on all sorts of tangents. But with an outline you can remain more focused which will be easier for your students to follow. Plus you will be less likely to leave out things you want to say. Not to mention that when that moment comes where you get caught up in the moment and think, "This will be so funny(even though it probably won't be)," you can avoid it because it is not on your outline. I do like to try and memorize my outline so I can speak more confidently and not be staring down the whole time, but I still always have it with me.
2. Ask yourself it is really worth it.- I think the occasional story, joke, or shock value statement is okay and can even enhance your teaching. But when used inappropriately it can be distracting and often destroy the work the Holy Spirit is trying to do in the room. So you always need to ask yourself are these components worth it. Does the story help prove a point or is it just you trying to be funny or look like a better communicator? Is the joke really funny or is just funny to you? And even if it is funny, is it really necessary? Does that shock value moment really necessary or could the issue you are trying to draw attention to be communicated another way? These are important questions to ask because while these communication techniques are often useful they can also be high risk maneuvers.
3. Keep it focused. - Your students brains are already going in 100 different places. Not to mention they can only learn so many things at a time. So you need to make sure that your Sunday school lesson focuses in on one major idea and constantly go in a direction where every point helps to teach that idea. Because if not your students will not be able to follow along and will tune you out. Plus, if you are not focused, and go off on a tangent like telling a random story just because you think it is funny, you run the risk of that tangent being the only thing they remember instead of the scriptural truth you are trying to communicate.
4. Keep it short.- In communication, they say that people can only focus in for 15 minutes. For teenagers that time is usually shorter and because of the world we live in, their attention span is probably much shorter than however long any study says they can focus. So you need to keep things short and to the point. I say go for 15-30 minutes. You also need to find ways to break things up along the way to refresh and refocus your students. Some ways to do this are video clips, changing points, changing slides, having a discussion question, interjecting a quick activity, object lessons, etc. Again, these are just ideas and there are many other ways to break up your lessons.
5. If the Holy Spirit says something else ignore me.- At the end of the day be sensitive to the Holy Spirit's leading. And if the Holy Spirit tells you to ignore everything I have typed here than do it. If the Holy Spirit says to talk for an hour than you do it. If the Holy Spirit leads you to throw out your outline and speak something else entirely then do it. Did you know that during Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream Speech" that he turned his outline over and started preaching from the hear? And he did it right at the point most of us remember. So sometimes the Spirit leads you and you must follow.
Again, these are just suggestions, but they are suggestions that have come over years of experiences of not always crafting and communicating the best lessons. I would love to hear from you though. What are some lessons you have learned that help you improve your teaching?
This may be one of the most important lessons about teaching youth Sunday school curriculum that I could share. And it is a lesson that took me a while to learn and unfortunately I know many of my small groups suffered in the process. But once I learned it my lessons began to go much better and I saw my students grow more in their spiritual walk than I had ever seen. The lesson is that teaching Sunday school is not a sermon. It should not be all about you and all about your students listening to you talk. There is a time for that but more of the time should be spent in discussion. You should allow your students to ask questions, have discussion, and wrestle with truth for themselves. This way they can take ownership of their faith so they can live it out and better share what they have learned with others.
In youth Sunday School curriculum many of us go with the flow. There is often a publisher that we automatically order our studies from every semester or even every quarter. This is not always a bad thing, but it is also not always automatically the best. Just because you have always used a publisher's materials does not mean that it will automatically be right for your students today. They may have different needs or be at a different stage spiritually than the study that publisher is offering at the time. So sometimes you may need to break with tradition, pray for direction, and go with a different option. It does not mean you can't go back to your traditional options in the future, but it just may not be the best option for today. I want to provide one word of caution though in closing. Tradition is a strong thing. So be prepared for backlash and you may want to give people plenty of warning about the changes. But if you pray for direction and believe this is what God wants you to do, then be obedient and do not worry about what those around you think or say.
In teaching youth Sunday school curriculum it is vitally important that you are sensitive to the moment at hand. This way you make sure that you are pushing students towards becoming fully developing followers of Christ instead of turning them away from their faith forever. For example, if a lesson talks about relationships and divorce is a topic, you might not want to ramble on about the evils of divorce if a student’s parents’ are going through divorce. While, much of what you might say would be biblical truth, it is not the appropriate moment for that student to necessarily hear it. They may just need to hear about how hard it is when sin affects our lives and how in Christian community we can love and support one another through those difficult moments. There are many other scenarios we could discuss but you get the idea. You need to feel the moment, know your students, and make sure you cover topics appropriately and sensitively.
In choosing and teaching Youth Sunday School Curriculum it is important that you have relationships with your students. This way you understand what their needs are and where they are spiritually so you can make the best decision as to what curriculum they need to study. But you also need those relationships so you can effectively teach the curriculum. First of all you need those relationships so when you teach you know what areas of the lesson need more focus, what your students will be able to understand, and what truths need to be spoken into their lives. But also, you need those relationships because your students need them. This generation needs community and connection more than maybe any other in history. And you need to play a part in offering them that community. Besides, they won't care what you know until they know how much you care.
Teaching youth Sunday school curriculum, or even the process of choosing it for that matter, should be all about pushing students to their next steps in their faith. This is the way we always look at our student ministry. What is a student's next step? Is it going to our midweek service? Is it joining a small group? Is it telling a friend about Christ? Each student's next step may be different but each student definitely has one. It is your responsibility, through time built building a relationship with a student and then studying scripture with them, to push them towards their next step spiritually. Because as you get to know them you will be able to identify that step and also know how to communicate in such a way that they will understand where they need to go next and how they get there. This way you can truly lead them in their spiritual growth, which is the whole goal of small groups and Sunday School in the first place.
One of the biggest decisions you will make when it comes to youth Sunday school curriculum is the topic of your study. You will also find this is one of the most difficult decisions due to the plethora of options that will be at your disposal. But there are a few things you can do to make this decision a little bit easier. The first thing is obviously praying for wisdom and vision as that is the best thing we can do in any decision making process. Next, you have to think about the culture of your students. Remember that culture means the way of life of a group of people. So you need to consider your students interests as well as their hurts and struggles. Finally, think about your students spiritual level. Where are they on their journey with Christ and what do they still need to learn. And after all that you still can't decide I say a lesson on the life and teachings of Jesus is something you can never go wrong with.
In teaching or choosing youth Sunday School curriculum you need to make sure that you are prepared to minister to those in your small group. Because you more than just a teacher. For some of your students you will be a pastor. For some a counselor. And for some students you might even be a parent to them. So you need to make sure your heart is ready for a wide variety of roles and situations. You also need to make sure that you are teaching your small group in such a way that they are prepared, equipped, and inspired to go out and minister to a world around them. Because if we are just sitting in a room and studying the Bible and we walk away unchanged then it is all meaningless. We must study and teach in such a way that we are changed and the world around us is changed because of that.