How to choose your next best curriculum

People often ask me for curriculum recommendations. Since Cadre writes, publishes and offers a lot of training, people sometimes think we do curriculum.

But…we don’t.

I get why people ask. Choosing what to teach is a pressing, felt need many of us have as we plan to teach week-to-week…to week…to week.

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Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-curriculum. But Cadre doesn’t write it because we believe disciplemaking is a way of life, and that’s our focus—helping you, as our in-real-life friends, follow Jesus with the people in your life, living sent to make disciples who make disciples. Disciplemaking isn’t meant to be a topic for us to teach for 8 weeks every other year as part of our Christian education rotation.

But wait, don’t close out the window yet!

We can still help.

The truth is, there are many great kinds of studies and resources you can use to cultivate disciplemaking values in your ministy. This is the best one. And I’ll share a few more at the bottom.

But let’s back up for a minute.

While I can share a few resources with you, I’d much rather equip you to choose your own curriculum well. In fact, this won’t be my only post on the topic. But today, I simply want to challenge you to think about the big picture.

Instead of picking a curriculum based on how well it’s designed, how easy it is to teach without much prep, or how many of your friends use it…stop and ask:

  • What does a disciple who makes disciples look like?
  • What head, hands and heart understanding do we want to help develop in people as we seek to make disciples?
  • What are our goals as we aim to make disciples who make disciples?

There are plenty of good studies out there. But unless you have clearly defined goals, you’re probably going to fumble around looking for “the next best thing” to teach every 3-6 months.

Here are some sample “exit goals” to show you what I mean.

By the time children finish Kindergarten, they should…

  • Know the Bible is God’s Word
  • Be able to pray a simple prayer

By the time kids finish 5th grade, they should…

  • Know God helps us overcome our fears
  • Be able to name the books of the Bible in order

By the time students finish high school, they should…

  • Understand God’s design for us to live in biblical community with one another
  • Be able to choose personal priorities based on their relationship with Jesus.

Once adults have experienced this class or group, they should…

  • Know how to lead someone to Christ
  • Be able to live out the one another verses with family and friends

Note that these are just EXAMPLES—they’re NOT mean to be exhaustive. You can view a more extensive list of goals and find practical help as you teach for disciplemaking in Cadre’s Teaching Genius of Jesus.

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If the ministry you’re a part of isn’t ready to come up with goals for all ages, spend some time prayerfully identifying a few simple goals for the group you’re teaching or leading.

Once you know what you’re aiming for, you can find studies that will help people grow as disciples in the areas you’ve identified.

But if you’re still looking for Cadre-style “curriculum,” start here…

  • You can break down our Equip middle school training into weekly bite sizes and plan a lesson around it. There are lots of ideas and creative ways to engage, but there’s no script. You’ll have to be willing to study and share the Scripture together with those you’re teaching.
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And finally, since I told you I would, here are a handful of additional resources I’ve found helpful in cultivating a disciplemaking way of life:

For kids:

Discover 4 Yourself Inductive Bible studies

The Jesus Storybook Bible (and curriculum)

252 Basics

For students:

Dare 2 Share’s Field Guide to Sharing Your Faith

Sticky Faith: 10 Lessons to Nurture Faith Beyond High School

For adults:

Let’s Read the Bible Together YouVersion plans

Prayer that Makes a Difference by Martin Sanders

A Righteous Brood by Hugh Halter

The real test of what happens during church…

 Here’s some Cadre help for living a love-God-love-people-make-disciplemakers way of life together after church…

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The One Another Living Guide

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The Disciplemaker’s Living Guide

john 3:16 living guide

The John 3:16 Factor Living Guide

Using any of these living guides is as simple as this…

  • Open the living guide.
  • Open your Bibles and read the Scriptures and their contexts.
  • Wrestle the Scriptures and the questions one by one with a heart to know and love God.
  • Pray the Disciplemaker’s Prayer together (it’s in the living guide).

You’re probably doing it right when your study together leads to more questions and deeper conversations about applying what you’re learning together.

7 Ways to Use These Living Guides

1. Sunday School:
Use the any of these living guides for the first 10-15 minutes of each class for discussion and prayer together for 25 Sundays. Or take your time walking slowly through the living guide the entire Sunday school class. If you read the context of each of the passages listed and give plenty of time for discussion, interaction, and prayer, it will easily fill your Sunday school hour. We’ve seen both of these approaches work great in a Sunday school setting. Get each member of your Sunday school class his/her own living guide and you’ll still have the most inexpensive Sunday school ever.
2. Small Groups:
These living guides are great for small groups to live out a disciplemaking way of lifetogether. By wrestling Scripture together, you and your friends have an opportunity to own disciplemaking like Jesus at the conviction level rather than just at the idea level. (And, oh, there is a major difference between those two!) This wrestling Scripture together in community (a.k.a., havering) is a critically important step in transforming friendships intodisciplemaking friendships.
3. With Volunteers and Students:
Use the any of these living guides to help your adult volunteer leaders and student volunteer leaders grasp and own the value of disciplemaking friendships as the conduit for gospel ministry.
4. Retreats:
These living guides are great for summer camp or fall or winter retreat experience. Cadre offers a four-session training experience that goes with each one of these living guides-and they work great in a retreat setting. Each person would get a living guide.
5. Family Discussions:
It can be as a simple and spontaneous as a 5-10 minute discussion via the questions in the living guide after dinner one night a week. If you have a long drive together, use the car time to wrestle a study or two together. Consider doing a family night using this living guide to explore what it looks like to live a disciplemaking way of life together. Then invite other families to share this living guide experience.
6. Starting Meetings:

Instead of just starting meetings in prayer, take 15 minutes to have people get into pairs and work through one of the 25 studies/adventures. This will drip essential disciplemaking values into your elder, staff, and team meetings throughout the year.

7. Mission Trips:
Make any one of these living guides the team devotional for your next missions trip. Since you’re all on a missions trip, why not use it together each day? 8. Can YOU think of another way to use these living guides in your life and ministry? We bet you can!

 

To get yours now, go here. Each living guide is also sold individually.