Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Instant Bible Lessons: Are They a Good Trend?

A recent curriculum trend in children’s ministry has been an influx of the “quick” lesson, lessons or activities within lessons that take little preparation, few resources and are simple to carry out Inside the Classroom. I’m not sure, but I believe Standard Publishing started the trend with their trademarked Quick Step. Each section of a Sunday School or VBS lesson contains one of these simple glance-and-do activities. A teacher who had too busy of a Saturday or a substitute teacher called Sunday morning 45 minutes before start of Sunday school could grab the teacher’s guide from the superintendent, make necessary copies and be good to go.

Other companies have also produced the Instant Lesson format.
Rainbow Publishers has promoted several series in this genre: Instant Bible Lessons and Five Minute Sunday School Activities, for example. David C. Cook and GospelLight have also added to the easy-to-prepare venue.

Critics of this approach wonder if kids are really getting the gospel message. In our attempts to make life easy and teaching attractive to busy teachers, are we watering down the bible lesson? From the looks of the short, simple lessons, this would appear so on the surface. Like anything in our lives though, you can’t reach a generalized judgment. Evaluate each curriculum on its own merit rather than judging this paradigm shift as a whole. From what I see, some lessons are simplified in order to save time. There are certain situations where this is needed and important. Other material, like Standard’s Quick Step, sacrifice nothing in bible content, the Quick steps merely give alternative activities that meet the same goals.

I like the concept the promotion video on the
Kidmo site presents. This curriculum is a media driven ministry. Everything a teacher needs is provided in the video and require minimum prep time. Kidmo states the motivation of this approach– so teachers can spend more time relating to their students instead of spending excessive amounts of time in lesson preparation.

This concept of relational teaching has totally revolutionized my teaching style. I’ll have more to say about this in my next post. However, I have spent hours and I’ve seen others spend hours cutting out crafts, preparing activities, gathering resources, creating environments, spending so much time and energy that we begin to lose the purpose of why we are even teaching. Instant lessons and curriculum in a box teaching materials do allow teachers to focus on what is really important – connecting with the children Inside the Classroom so children will get to know the teacher personally and see Jesus through the teacher’s life.

So, don’t be skeptical of the Instant Lesson trend. As with any material, check it thoroughly for Biblical soundness and thoroughness, then breath a sigh of relief that you have some extra time to do even more important things for the Kingdom of God.


Anonymous said...

I have used the Rainbow Publishing Instant Lessons book. I absolutely love them, but I still studied and added to them so the children could get the full meaning of the lesson. I used each lesson for two weeks, but the worksheets were great and the children always enjoyed the craft which I saved for week two.

Karen Wingate said...

Good for you! You've learned to adapt curriculum to meet your specific needs. That's what a creative teacher does.