God's Story

Curriculum FAQs: Why are you using the Gospel Story curriculum by New Growth Press?

UncategorizedJared Kennedy3 Comments

I recently wrote a post on how we have chosen curriculum at Sojourn. I mentioned there that we write about 40% of our lesson material each week.  But what about the other 60%? We are currently using a pre-publication curriculum called God's Story that is written by Marty Machowski and the team at Covenant Fellowship Church in Glenn Mills, PA. Portions of the curriculum will be published by New Growth Press beginning this Fall under the name Gospel Story. Here are just a few reasons why we've chosen Gospel Story:

  1. Gospel Story is about the gospel. The curriculum seeks to show the big picture of the Bible.  Each week, there is a focus on how Old Testament Messianic passages are fulfilled in Christ. The majority of the Bible--including New Testament letters--is covered in the chronological lesson plan. And the curriculum makes many references and applications to how the good news of Jesus relates to our lives.
  2. Gospel Story is a unified curriculum. It teaches the same Bible lesson on two different learning levels each week. The preschool lessons are targeted at ages 3-5. We use it for our Twos, Threes, Pre-K, and Kindergarten classes. Grade school lessons are targeted at grades 1-6. We use it for Grades 1-5. Both age groups include 156 lessons (78 on the Old Testament and 78 on the New Testament).  The unified nature of the curriculum is an excellent help for equipping parents to do discipleship at home. If a family has three children in our ministry--in fifth grade, third grade, and Kindergarten--they will all be studying the same Bible passage on the same week. Conversations about the lesson on the way home can involve all three kids.
  3. New Growth is releasing some excellent family-equipping resources to accompany the curriculum. Long Story Short: 10 Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God has already been released. The 78 weeks of devotions correspond with the 78 lessons in the Old Testament curriculum. Here is a great video with Marty on the resource:

    In October, New Growth will publish The Gospel Storybook Bible: Discovering Jesus in the Old and New Testaments. Here is a PDF preview of the book that looks to be an excellent resource. The 156 stories in the book will correspond exactly with the curriculum lessons.  We'll certainly put one of these books in each of our Preschool classes when it is published. And we'll probably give one away to every family at our Baby Dedication.

  4. Gospel Story is a digital curriculum. So, it is adaptable. We're not doing the lessons in order, but we're instead re-arranging them to correspond as closely as possible with Sojourn's Sunday sermon schedule. The digital lessons are easy to distribute to our team along with the supplementary music services, preschool learning centers, and Take Home sheets that we're writing ourselves.  What we have found is that this curriculum provides a good framework from which our SojournKids team create and modify activities, art projects, and other additional resources.

Long Story Short Devotional

UncategorizedJared KennedyComment

Fletcher and I both ordered copies of Long Story Short: Ten-Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God. This devotional is written by the author of the God's Story curriculum that we use on Sundays, and it covers the same passages week by week that SojournKids' Bible classes will be studying for 78 weeks in 2011 and the first half of 2012.  Check out this preview. WTS Books has it on sale for 65% off (it retails for $19.99, and they have it for $6.99).  This is a great gift idea for Christmas!

Last Sunday: Abraham, Father to All by Faith

UncategorizedJared KennedyComment

Last Sunday, our Sojourn Kids' God's Story lesson was focused on Abraham, father of all true believers.  At each service, one of our teachers dressed up like Abraham and told Abraham's story from Genesis 17-18, 21.   We closed out the class by having each "Father Abraham" lead the kids in singing "Father Abraham Had Many Sons."  If you haven't already, ask your kids about Abraham.   Talk to them about how God kept his promise to Abraham by saving all peoples through Jesus.  Hope to see you again this week!

The Art of Storytelling, Part 3

UncategorizedJared KennedyComment

Stories Of Change from Sojourn Community Church on Vimeo.

The art of storytelling gives children a basic framework for understanding truth as well as the courage to live and tell about it. This week, I'm posting six important things to know about great stories!  Here is #5 and #6:

5. Stories inspire hope by giving us a “peek” at the end. Despair is not just a sin theologically—because it assumes that the grand story is about us.  It’s also a mistake because it assumes we know the end of the story.  Michelle Anthony has recently written, “We often don’t tell our kids about the end of the story… Maybe we think it’s too bloody or too intense, or maybe we don’t understand it all, but in reality it makes Jesus the kind of hero worth living and dying for.  Knowing that Christ is the ultimate victor gives each one of us [kids included] the courage to walk with Him on the journey.”  For kids, knowledge of darkness is sometimes intuitive, but they need to be told that darkness can be defeated.  Perhaps, G.K. Chesterton said it best:  “Fairy tales do not tell children that dragons exist.  Children already know that dragons exist.  Fairy tales tell children that dragons can be killed.”  When we are reading Revelation and we see the king and the white horse and the dragon thrown into the pit, we can step lighter and smile wider.   Peeking at the end makes us optimistic.  As the old hymn says, “Though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.”

6. The hope we glean  from knowing the larger story (and even smaller ones) inspires us to step into others’ stories with courage and love. Since we know how the story ends, we can “rejoice that our names are written” by persevering through trial and stepping out in love.  This doesn’t just mean talking about heaven but also bringing heaven here—pushing back the effects of the fall and casting rays of hope into the middle of the pain, the sickness, and the sorrow. Knowing how our own stories are intertwined with the story of God gives us courage to tell our own stories to those who need inspiration.  Having hope inspires us to shape the stories of others.

For more on shaping kids' stories, check out this post by Henry Zonio. If you missed the earlier editions of this series, check out #1 and #2, and #3 and #4.