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Curriculum for Christian Youth Ministry

The Challenge

Challenge: Students aging out of 6th grade Sunday school are pressed into adult service before they may be ready.

Solution: Offer an additional class for young students to continue the faith development.

Audience: 7th to 8th grade, 9th-12th grades optional.

Format: A typical segment may include verbal instruction, video, guest speakers, breakout groups, extracurricular field trips and supplemental reading.

Focus

A proposed curriculum would target the following three approaches:

Identity

The world attempts to shape us in accordance with its shifting trends, fads and events. It drives to distract, lure and establish strongholds that last for generations. Our identity must be rooted in what the Father says about us through the life of Jesus Christ. Without this understanding, our so-called “Christian” walk will be sin-conscious, confused and void of the power and authority necessary to weather life’s storms and certainly won’t represent the glory of God’s kingdom. We know we’re told we are made in His image, but what does that really mean? Are all events, good or bad, really ordained by God? Topics may include the character of God and mankind, how the life of Jesus should affect our walk, spiritual gifts and the power of prayer.

Apologetics

Establish a strong foundation for understanding, communicating and defending the proof-claims behind the Christian worldview (1 Peter 3:15). According to a 2006 study by Barna Research, 61% of young adults who were once churched are now spiritually disengaged. As our children mature, are they ready to take on the world without being shaped by the world? Does Noah’s ark still look like a bathtub brimming with cartoon animal heads? Discussion topics may include young Earth creationism in the face of “billions” of years, global flood accounts, evolution, fine tuning of the universe, the authority of the Bible (including archeological evidence for Sodom and Gomorrah and the Red Sea crossing,) atheism, world religions, the problem of evil and the argument for God.

Culture

Whether at school or at home, our children will be confronted by varying forms of relativism. The life decisions they make in the blink of an eye will be shaped by how well-grounded they are in their faith and their moral code. If absolute truth doesn’t exist and we are simply living for ourselves, matters of morality become a personal choice. Issues such as drugs, abortion, bullying, sexuality, body image, social media, academic and peer pressures, on-screen violence, depression, morality and ethics may be covered.


SUPPLEMENTAL

The testimony of college students (from the Center for Parent & Youth Understanding – www.cpyu.org):

1) Alysia at the University of Illinois said:

My youth group was fairly useless in preparing me for college. A short course in different religions helped me, but what helped me more was attending Worldview Academy for two summers. The challenging of my faith and teaching me the apologetics, leadership, and evangelism helped the most–especially by helping me determine why I personally believed in Christianity and by giving me the tools to help share that with others…My youth group was a place where the leaders were trying everything from games to parties to entice people to come, but they wouldn’t dive deep into any theological or social topic. We were treated as intellectual babies and thus never grew to understand the importance or the relevance of the Christian faith.

2) Daniel at Erskine College said:

I wish my youth group had done more to prepare me for the academic challenges to Christianity instead of focusing on high school drama. I was fortunate to make great and knowledgeable friends, but I have known others who have turned away because of professors and students raising tough objections. I wish my youth group had taken things more seriously and done more apologetics and less of worrying about the drama of high school.

3) And Gabrielle at Chatham University said:

I was in several youth groups in high school and unfortunately found that youth group was too ?soft—we played a lot of games and had a lot of fun retreats, but rarely learned about the fundamentals of faith, why we believe what we believe, and what it is that we do believe. Now that I am in college, my faith is under constant scrutiny and always being tested by scientific concepts and the secular slant of most universities. I wish I had been equipped with a more solid justification for my faith: knowing how to answer the tough questions, how to respond to arguments, and how to stand firm in what feels like a storm against my spirituality.

We can’t let up “in here,” in the church, because they’re not letting up “out there.”

Listen to philosopher Richard Rorty, quoted in Rorty and His Critics, chapter 1 entitled “Universality and Truth” (Blackwell Publishing 2000), page 22:

…we try to arrange things so that students who enter as bigoted, homophobic, religious fundamentalists will leave college with views more like our own . . . The fundamentalist parents of our fundamentalist students think that the entire ‘American liberal establishment’ is engaged in a conspiracy. The parents have a point. Their point is that we liberal teachers no more feel in a symmetrical communication situation when we talk with bigots than do kindergarten teachers talking with their students . . .

When we American college teachers encounter religious fundamentalists, we do not consider the possibility of reformulating our own practices of justification so as to give more weight to the authority of the Christian scriptures. Instead, we do our best to convince these students of the benefits of secularization….So we are going to go right on trying to discredit you in the eyes of your children, trying to strip your fundamentalist religious community of dignity, trying to make your views seem silly rather than discussable..


References

Kunkle, Brett. 2009. Who‘s Waiting for Your Kid. Stand to Reason.

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