Curriculum

The Orange Conference 2014: Highlights on Vimeo

I finally came across the highlight video from the Orange Conference I attended in the spring time. Have a look at the video below for only a small sampling of why this might have been the best conference I have attended in years.

The Orange Conference 2014: Highlights on Vimeo on Vimeo

via The Orange Conference 2014: Highlights on Vimeo.

Launching a New Ministry Year : Notes and Highlights

This past Sunday marked the first week that our elementary students used the 252 Basics curriculum from Orange and from the leadership side of things we could not have been happier with the outcome. Here are a couple of my highlights from our launch weekend.

1) Our set for this month. We were given some used doors to use from a family on our staff to use as well as all the hinges and screws to piece them together to make dividers. We used these to bring the theme from “Opportunity Knocks,” (the title of this months series) to life on stage. The idea from Orange was very Monsters Inc. and our tech. team went with that and used lighting to make them all blue and green.

Another great thing that came from this set happened by sheer coincidence. The theme for our church’s Global Missions Conference that runs from September 7-21, 2014 has a very similar look to it. We found this out after we planned the doors for our stage in a meeting with our worship arts department.

Kidmin Sept. 7.1 (2)

Nations GMC   2) We taught the students a new song this weekend from the CD “Movin’ Me” from Amber Sky Records. This CD is a must own for any #kidmin programs. It is upbeat, catchy and full of great songs for students and parents to learn. My wife and I play this CD at least once on every road trip since I picked it up in May. We taught the students one of my personal favourites from the album “Let It Be Known.” 

3) We made some changes to the sign-in and sign-out policies for our children’s ministry that were greatly received from our parents and congregation. We had ushers and greeters to help us with these transitions so it was a smooth transition.

4) We have implemented a props cupboard for our storytellers and hosts. This was very handy for the first lesson that included safari hats, sunglasses, a shovel and a stuffed carrot to name a few. this should help us stay organized and to help us gather props for upcoming weeks. 

Our children’s ministry department loved the flow of our large group with the bottom line, memory verse and lesson. It flowed well and kept us on schedule for the whole morning. 

A great first week.

#ThinkOrange: Our #kidmin is changing colours this fall.

This September our #kidmin program is turning Orange and using the 252 Basics curriculum. I have found myself overly excited about this transition since going to the Orange Conference back in May. I am excited for a few reasons:

  1. The amount of content that will be available to our parents and families throughout the week. This will include Parent Cue, 252 Live, and more. It also means that more families will be talking about Jesus throughout the week. A win on all levels.
  2. The added responsibility and content for our tech team. Our tech team is full of students that have wanted more ownership over the content on Sunday mornings. Even though the content is still prepared ahead of time they will have the opportunity to pull it up at home experiment with it and make the visuals their own.
  3. The added role of a host on Sunday mornings. This will allow some of our volunteers the opportunity to use their dramatic skill sets to help the storyteller bring the Bible to life every Sunday.

The one thing I have not enjoyed about implementing Orange has been the constant need to justify our choice to other #kidmin leaders from other churches I come into contact with. Whether it is their preconceived feelings about what Orange brings, or their desire to have full control of the content that they bring to their kids many leaders have asked me the same question in one way or another,

“Are you worried about the lack of Bible content in their lessons?”

I can’t even begin to tell you how often I have heard this in the last three months. In a way I find it heartbreaking and I always feel as though one of our team’s core responsibilities in being questions. That responsibility is presenting the Gospel to our kids and allowing families the opportunities to live out the Gospel in their homes each week. When I get asked that question about Orange I feel as though I am being asked whether or not our team is capable to bring the Gospel message to our kids.

Orange is creative in ways that I could never be, or would take me hours to produce and summon from within myself. Those hours of creativity that this curriculum saves me allows me to add Bible when I need to, (I personally think that Orange provides just as much Bible content as many of the other curriculums out there do) for my volunteers, or for family specific content. I have also gone through Bible college for Biblical Studies and as a leader in a church realize that part of my job is to add in Bible wherever I need to.

So when I hear that question asked to me what I really hear in my head is,

“Are you prepared to do your job and teach those children in your care how to live out the Gospel message of Jesus?”

The answer is of course. I also realize for me the question goes way farther than what curriculum do I use and I probably take it way to personally, but I am always surprised when I get it.

I am excited for September and what 252 Basics will add into our ministry. I truly believe at this point that the benefits of this curriculum choice will be felt in the lives of the children in our ministry for years to come. As a children’s pastor you cannot ask for anything better than impacting the lives of the kids and families in your community.

The Story Teen Edition Curriculum Review

The Story Teen Edition DVD Curriculum

First off, the creativity in the story clips is very refreshing. The clips are concise, eye-catching, and easy for teens, or pre-teens in my case to refer back to. I have used a few of these story clips so far with different groups of students and have found that starting with The Story video clips and then following up with some questions that ask students to explain what they saw has been very helpful for them. The clips allow the students to see a broader context of multiple chapters,or even books of the Bible in a short period of time which allows them to see God’s larger story playing out.

Michael Novelli has seen that when teens experience a story, as opposed to it being told or shown to them, they absorb and remember it more thoroughly. This DVD offers youth workers a new way to engage teens in the grand narrative of the Bible.

One of the downfalls for me was that some of the clips cover a large portion of scripture, so it makes using these clips outside of the curriculum very difficult. For example, if you were teaching a 3 week series on Nehemiah, or Revelation there is only one clip that covers these works. Also, the miracles and parables of Jesus are also covered in one section. This is only a minor flaw for me because it goes outside of the intended use of the curriculum, but for a small, or none existent budget for some youth groups the re-usable ability of the clips could be very important.

However, what you do get in this curriculum is very impressive.

The DVD Contains:
31 video sessions (including additional Recap and Rewind videos)
Reproducible Teacher’s Guides for 31 weeks including Reading Scripts
Reproducible Student handouts
Subtitles (please use subtitle option and not the CC option on your tv or DVD player)

The handouts are great and they ask the students to interact with the story with all their senses. This is fantastic for all the learning types that can be found within any group of students. They can draw, listen and engage in simple question formats and I have found that the artistic outlets with this curriculum, especially in a camp setting make this a must for any Jr. High group.

The students are asked to engage the story that they have just heard and to timeline the events, but they get to choose the character whose point of view they would like to focus on. I have had students draw out the major points of Nehemiah’s story from Nehemiah’s criticizers point of view. I love the creativity that this curriculum draws out and it is written in a way that allows this to flow naturally.

As a leader you get a scrip of the story that is a paraphrase of the passages that are covered. We have used these to act out stories as well as to read in a large group setting. I have found that reading has not brought out the creativity and if you are teaching from the front of the room knowing the story so that you can tell it without the script allows for greater use of the students imagination.

Script from Session 15 – God’s Messengers

You also receive a student handout and this is where there is a clear intention to include all learning types. Students are asked on these handouts to engage the story in three ways.

1) See the story.

See the story – Session 15

2) Hear the story.

Hear the story – Session 15

3) Join the story.

Join the story – Session 15

The last written piece that is at your disposal as a leader is the Teacher Guide. The guide is full of scriptural references, context and  personal preparation suggestions. It then breaks down how to break down 75 minutes in order to get the most out of the curriculum. It timelines each step of the night as a guideline for you that allows you to place more emphasis on the key areas that you would like to focus on within your group. You can emphasize prayer time, teaching time, engagement, or small groups as this is meant to be a tool not a rule to go by.

Part 1 –  Rewind

  • Intro and prayer, video of the previous week and brief response
  • 5 Min

Part 2 – See the story

  • Explanation and handout, session video, create symbols, share symbols with group
  • 10 min.

Part 3 – Hear the story

  • Story reader scripture reading, student response to scripture, break into small groups.
  • 25 min

Part 4 – Join the story (small groups)

  • Discuss story, create personal responses, share the response, closing prayer.
  • 35 min.

There is an even more detailed breakdown for a typical session in the Teacher Guide that is really helpful. I have found that this helps volunteers manage their small group time and to keep the focus on the scripture. I do think that if small groups are a focus in your ministry there needs to be time built into the schedule that allows for time for personal sharing of the weeks activities for the students.

I would recommend that any youth group that wants to teach on the metanarrative, or even any group that is looking for an affordable curriculum. You can find the DVD curriculum for around 50 dollars in most locations and can be found on The Story website. One perk is that you can teach this curriculum without any of the other Story products as the scriptures are given to you. I would give this curriculum a 8/10.