"Curriculum" is a word that makes most people yawn. It might conjure up associations of dated clip art, irrelevant material, canned presentations, and more. But what if all of those things are BAD examples of curriculum? And what if curriculum - properly understood and excellently applied - is valuable and essential?
I've appreciated how James Riley Estep, Jr. draws attention to the valuable role curriculum plays, in Mapping Out Curriculum in Your Church: Cartography for Christian Pilgrims. He's speaking here specifically of the role curriculum plays in the life of a local church:
Anyone who has traveled knows what it is like to rely on a map to guide the way....Maps are also needed to guide us through the journey of faith. We are all pilgrims on a journey. For some, the pilgrimage is new and unknown. For others, the path is familiar. Identifying desirable destinations, pathways that have proven beneficial, and providing a means of navigation along the way are all part of the church's cartography, its mapmaking. Curriculum is a congregation's map though the process of discipleship, providing disciples, new and old, with the means to continue on their way toward Christlikeness, and the Christian educator is the cartographer" (pp. 1-2, bold emphasis added).
A little further along Estep continues:
When one fully appreciates the broad concept of curriculum, its critical importance to the congregation's ministry becomes self-evident. The curriculum provides the pathway for believers to grow toward Christian maturity. What do believers have to know, experience, and be able to do so as to mature? What do they need along the way to guarantee their continued spiritual growth? With whom should they travel the journey of faith? The curriculum answers these questions, and gives the believer some direction, some proven paths to travel, so they are not lost along the journey of faith, wandering without direction. Curriculum is a tool of the education ministry to provide for the spiritual formation of believers (p. 2, bold emphasis added).
All of this is why I'm passionate about catechesis, and about the Brookside Institute providing a relatively systematic and comprehensive grounding in core truths of the Christian faith. But these quotes also apply more broadly across ministries of the church - curriculum is simply an intentional way to guide others towards biblical objectives of being a disciple. Good stuff!
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