The Bible is clear that the principle responsibility for the spiritual development of children lies with parents. In children’s ministry, and as a church, we must work to encourage and equip parents in this role. To that end, Group Publishing has developed a small group curriculum that engages both parents and children. The press release accompanying this curriculum explains:
The new small group curriculum, which launches this fall in churches around the country, is part of Group’s FaithWeaver® line of resources, which includes classes for all ages and has been successfully used in more than 25,000 churches nationwide since 1999. While parents are attending their small group, their children attend classes designed for them. Each week, everyone studies and discusses the same Bible point at an age-appropriate level.
“For example,” says [Christine] Yount Jones [executive editor of Children’s Ministry magazine], “one week the children might learn how they can rely on God. At the same time, the parents are taught how to help their children rely on God. Parents learn how to do this in practical ways and share ideas with other parents in their group. Now they can go home and weave faith teaching into their children’s lives throughout the week, focusing on this particular area.”
The curriculum for this fall includes topics like selfishness versus selflessness, showing kindness, seeking wisdom, faithfulness and relying on God. Each quarter, Group will release a new similarly formatted curriculum with a new set of Bible points. I am a big fan of much the Group Publishing puts out, and I was excited to review this new curriculum.
The “Bible Point” of the sample lesson I reviewed was “We can rely on God.” Each lesson includes a FaithWeaver Parent Leader Guide ($9.99) and a FaithWeaver Parent Handbook ($5.29). The Parent Class is based on the same verses and principles taught throughout the FaithWeaver series. This puts parents on the same page of their kids thereby equipping them to be a spiritual leader in their own homes.
In addition to the Parent Leader Guide and Parent Handbook, the sample I was provided also included the teacher’s guide and student books for Pre-K & K and Grades 3 & 4 to allow me to review how the different classes work together.
The Parent Lesson is presented in the following sequence:
- Getting Started
- Bible Exploration
- Weaving Faith Into Families
The Leader Guide includes additional background on the Bible lesson for that week to help leaders learn the story and spend some time reflecting with God on the lesson.
The Getting Started portion of the lesson focuses on getting parents in small groups discussing their children. For example, in this lesson parents are divided based on the age of their kids and asked to discuss times when their kids need to rely on something and in what areas their kids most need to rely on God. The Leader in these groups serves much more as a facilitator than a teacher. Their principal role is to get parents talking in their small group and guide them to specific questions in the parent handbook to discuss.
The Bible Exploration section of the group encourages parents, within their small groups, to read the Bible verse and discuss it amongst themselves. Parents are also asked to consider and discuss how the verses relate to their family. The “Weaving Faith Into Families” section of the lesson is a “hands-on” activity driven portion of the class. In the sample I was provided parents were blindfolded and made to rely on their partner to guide them and paired up to participate in some role playing to help them remember a method for encouraging their kids to rely on God. The parent handbook also includes some background on the week’s lesson, discussion questions, a place for parents to take notes, faith talk starters, and suggestions for prayer starters.
I believe that the strengths of this class include:
- It equips parents to discuss the week’s lesson with their kids.
- It integrates well with the lessons for kids of all ages.
- It is highly driven by conversation and small groups which will help participants to build relationships with other parents. The benefit of that can last well past the individual lesson.
- It forces parents to actually participate. This is a great feature for those of us who tend to cower in the corner during small group times.
- The point of the lesson each week is clear.
- It includes a different Bible story each week for parents to discuss.
There are some weaknesses to this curriculum as well (Note: these are based on my review of one sample lesson and may not be representative of the whole curriculum):
- I thought the parent class (at least for the lesson I reviewed) was very light on Bible. While the point is certainly Biblical, that we should rely on God, I felt like the Bible story itself seemed a little downplayed.
- While I think this curriculum will allow parents to discuss the lesson where there kids, I am not certain that it will allow parents to take their kids deeper into the lesson.
You can get more information about the whole FaithWeaver series at http://sundayschool.group.com/faithweaver. While there, you can register to receive a free sample of the Parent Leader Guide and you can review it for yourself.
In the interest of full disclosure, I was provided a free sample copy of a sample lesson for purposes of completing this review. That has not in way impacted the content of this review.