Most “new-church-friendly” children’s curriculum speaks more to behavior modification rather than heart-change
The first request is that children’s curriculum really focus on cultivating a Gospel-centered approach to stories of the Bible. Most of the material lacks a “Gospel-centered” emphasis. The teaching generally points kids to ways they should behave and practical principles to live by. We believe the point of nearly every biblical story, however, is to hope in God—i.e. to stand in awe of God and His grace. In response to God and His grace we learn to obey—not under compulsion and not for reward, but because our hearts have been changed to desire God. It seems most children’s curriculum generally gives kids a “to do” list of ways Christians should behave. For example, a recent lesson in our curriculum was on courage from the life of David. The primary take away for the kids was “have courage like David.” This point is well and good, but the primary point of David’s life is not “be courageous like David;” but that Jesus was the real David who charged the battlefield on our behalf and conquered the real giant for us; and because of His victory on our behalf, we can have courage in our daily battles because nothing can really harm us. Real courage is not something that comes from imitating a hero, but comes from having hope in God and His grace. My fear is that if we are teaching kids simply to “be courageous like David,” or “obey the law like Moses,” or “pray like Daniel,” we are giving them examples to emulate, rather than a Savior to worship and adore. I think the core teaching of Paul in the Epistles is that our hearts are changed not by the commands of the law (Gal 3:1-3), but by experiencing God’s grace and seeing His beauty in the Scriptures. Yet we are giving our children the commands to obey without the resources to obey those commands. All that to say, we quite often have to rewrite substantial parts of our curriculum to give it a more Gospel-centered focus.
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We would certainly affirm J.D.’s critique of children’s curriculum and that’s why we encourage sports ministries to write Gospel-centered devotionals that we call 3-D devotionals. These 3-D devotionals are written to express synergy in a Biblical principle, life principle, and a sports principle. To learn more about what these are, watch the video below.