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Part 4: Storytelling in Curriculum

 —  October 14, 2013 — 1 Comment

book and pen

My final thoughts on curriculum are in regards to the actual small group lesson. Most lessons include a video clip or short scripture with a couple of questions. This is often the point at which we think our students will tell us, “They know it all.”  If they are mostly unchurched, then we expect that the lesson “will be over their heads.”

Many times, it is simply the approach to the lesson that matters.

More and more students are not growing up in church or a Christian home. Either that, or they simply have not been paying attention when it comes to church.  Therefore, we must start at the beginning when talking Bible and Biblical concepts and even ensure we are constantly reengaging the basics of the faith.

“Run from temptation just like Joseph ran from Potipher’s wife.”  Was a statement made in a DVD series I watched recently.  I had to stop. Who in the room knew who Joseph or the wife were?  The story at all?  Do they know what it means to run from temptation in this way?  I think that we don’t “dumb it down.”  We don’t take a “they won’t know anyway” attitude.

Here is how I break it down and re-approach it for students:

I NEVER watch a video straight through.

None of us really enjoy being talked at for a long period of time without input.  We want to be heard & have the opportunity to wrestle with the deeper ideas.

So a concept is introduced.  Stop the video.

What’s the Point:  That we should run away from temptation before it becomes a sin.

The point is the application we want them to take home.  However, they may not know or understand the context.

What’s the story:  Joseph, a slave in the house of Potipher, was pursued by his wife.

Ask: Students to give you the basics of the story. This includes your students who may know.  It also really lets you know WHAT students actually remember.

TELL:  Take a few minutes and re-tell the story as an overview.  Instead of just reading the scripture,  give them the overall story from the start of Joseph’s life. It isn’t about them understanding the reason why the Israelites were in Egypt in the first place or the history of Israel.  We are looking to help them see the bigger picture as a whole so they can learn how to apply it to their lives.

Too often we get hung up on the details, or we are afraid we will get it “wrong.”  When you stop and tell the background story that explains a scripture, it puts everything in perspective. This is a way you can put it in terms they will understand. Even a student who has “heard” a million times gain new insight when we stop and tell the story.

Want to get some ideas on HOW to do this?  Michael Novelli of Echo the Story is amazing at it.  Check out his ideas HERE.

The bottom line of curriculum is to see it as a catalyst not an end game.

It’s about looking at your time, context and students.  One size does not fit all, but you can taylor it to fit your needs.  It just takes planning and creativity.

What are you doing to make curriculum your own?

Leneita Fix

Leneita Fix


Leneita Fix is the Director of Ministry Development for Aslan Youth Ministries, a family focused urban ministry serving Monmouth County New Jersey and Haiti. She has been working in some form of youth and family ministry for almost 22 years. In addition she has launched the coaching and resource organization, Front Line Urban Resources with Jeffrey Wallace serving those who work with families living in survival mode. The early years were spent in camp ministry, suburban and rural youth groups. With the Lord’s moving the last 17 of those years have been spent ministering in three different urban areas to primarily unchurched families (New Jersey, Virginia, Florida back to New Jersey). Her responsibilities have included Bible based program direction for children ages 5-18, curriculum writing, staff training and recruiting, discipleship, resource creation and speaking to national audiences. Her passion is to raise up workers in practical, relationship-driven methods while remaining in the trenches with the youth and families she loves. Her goal is to help others understand every student living in a survival mindset can and will be transformed in Christ. One of her greatest joys is serving in ministry as a family with her husband three wonderful children, and her niece. Simply she resides among her friends in the city just living life as a family that loves being there. You can contact her at leneitafix@aslanyouth.org.

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