Over the past four years of youth ministry I have stayed away from most published curriculum. In most cases, I have tended to take books that I think are provocative, theologically sound and worthwhile and use them to structure my lessons. So, when I taught on Colossians I used Colossians Remixed: Subverting the Empire by Brian Walsh and Sylvia Keesmaat, or when I taught on the Psalms I used A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society by Eugene Peterson. I use the books for their scriptural and theological insights and add in the necessary illustrations, object lessons, discussion questions, and activities to try and make a decent lesson out of it all.
I was thinking: Wouldn’t it be great to have a fairly comprehensive list of topics and corresponding books that could be used as a foundational text for teaching? That way, if your group was going to examine Revelation or spiritual disciplines or evangelism there was a list you could go to in order to find a quality book on the subject.
For this to happen, we would need to do it in two phases: first of all, a comprehensive list of topics, which would include different books or sections of the Bible, needs to be compiled. If you have a scope and sequence type chart that you use for planning your ministry over the long term, would you consider sharing it with me? A few of these put together and we could get a pretty exhaustive list of topics.
Then I would need help figuring out which books are the best for being foundational texts for the various topics. I would think a few parameters would apply:
- You need to have actually read the book. If you have actually used it as a foundational teaching text, even better.
- It needs to be understood by a typical layperson. If you have an adult volunteer teaching or helping create curriculum, they should be able to read it without an M.Div.
- It needs to be short enough to make it possible for someone to actually read it and use it for teaching. If you are planning a study on the resurrection, it is likely that reading N.T. Wright’s The Resurrection of the Son of God (700 pages) is a bit ambitious. For example, when I was teaching on the Psalms, Eugene Peterson’s book covered one Psalm in each chapter that was around 10-15 pages long. Each week I read a chapter and crafted my lesson. It was a manageable amount of reading, taking no longer than 30 minutes at a leisurely pace.
- It needs to be a good book. One that made you think and one that will make those you are teaching think. Now, I know that with different theological persuasions the definition of a good book is fluid, but I think we could make it work. Heck, maybe we could have categories of books for the different theological streams.
What do you think? Would a list like this be helpful? Would you see yourself using it? Or do you think it’s too much work? Or is it not on the right level for teaching teens?
Let me know. If there is enough interest, then maybe I’ll take on this project (probably in some wiki-style form).