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Tips for Choosing a Church Curriculum

david-c-cook-bible-lesson-commentary-2014-2015With fall right around the corner, many pastors and church administrators are finalizing their plans for which curriculum to use for their adult Sunday schools, small groups, and even Sunday-morning preaching. For those that are still weighing the options, we’ve outlined some guiding questions and practical tips to save you time.

Suit your beliefs and needs

First and foremost, does the curriculum you’re considering line up with your church’s mission, vision, doctrinal beliefs, and culture? Will it provide growth where you need it most?

Be aware of your buying tendencies. Just because something is the least expensive—or the most impressive—doesn’t mean it’s the best fit for your church. Before you buy, set aside time to pray and to seek wisdom from other leaders in your church.

Should I choose uniform or age specific?

Do you want separate curriculum for the adults, youth, and children? Or do you want everyone studying the same material?

Many publishers and denominations create curriculum that follows the International Sunday School Lessons (ISSL) / Uniform Series, a six-year study plan covering all major Bible themes. A few of the most popular include the Standard Lesson Commentary (15% off on Pre-Pub) and the David C. Cook Bible Lesson Commentary (21% off on Pre-Pub).

Uniform curricula make it easier for parents to take what they learn at church and discuss it with their kids, since everyone studies the same material. On the other hand, curricula that are age specific can help pastors focus on what their groups need most at their stage in life.

Still can’t decide? Use both: follow a uniform curriculum and let your youth and children’s pastors customize it as needed.

What about media?

studies-in-faithful-living-patriarchs-collection-complete-church-curriculumWhat types of media would make the teaching more effective and easier to understand? How much does it cost your staff to create this kind of media? Would your church members like the option of learning on their smartphones or tablets?

Premade videos, infographics, and presentation slides can save hours of prep time for pastors, as well as that part-time graphic designer / intern / youth leader who always seems a little stressed. Small group handouts and bulletin inserts also help keep people engaged, especially those with different learning styles or disabilities.

Whole-church curricula like The Studies in Faithful Living series take it a step further, providing pastors with sermon outlines, key points in the text, exegesis, and more, in addition to the media mentioned above.

Whether you choose a uniform or separate curriculum, or something packed with media and pastoral resources, remember the leaders who are teaching it. They can always use your prayers, encouragement, and most likely, a hot cup of coffee!

 

What other tips do you have for selecting a curriculum that fits your needs?

The Ministry of Happiness

The Paradox of HappinessToday’s guest post is by René Breuel, author of  The Paradox of Happiness and founding pastor at Chiesa Evangelica in Rome, Italy.

Happiness is a G-rated theme

People say happiness is for kids. For naïve, simplistic folks who buy into easy steps and who have not yet bumped against the complexities of life.

I disagree. Happiness is a serious, vital theme, especially for pastors and Christian leaders. It’s a theme begging for Christian reflection—the word holds within itself a whole cosmos, because our understanding of happiness is our understanding of life. It is a token of our soul, a window into our worldview, and the surest sign of what we prize and what we live for.

I’ve been rather unhappy about our current understandings of happiness. Not only does someone reflecting on happiness today feel dumbed down—“buy this product,” “get this gorgeous,” “follow the seven magical steps”—but (and here I get really worked up) there seems to be no real Christian alternative. Christians have just bought into our consumer society’s definition of happiness without thinking it through critically, and have substituted the self-help steps to happiness with Christian terminology. Rough edges are smoothed and spiritual language is sprinkled, but the approach is still the same: self-centered, self-serving.

Is there an alternative Christian understanding of happiness?

I went on an experiment. Could a Christian understanding of happiness actually spring out of our core beliefs about reality? And could this alternative be not just well-meaning, but really happy, happier than any other alternative?

It was a fascinating experiment. I went back to Jesus and to what I feel is his key insight into life—that we gain life when we lose life, and that we do so when we deny ourselves and take up our crosses to follow him. The result of that reflection is my book, The Paradox of Happiness. And with the book comes a wish: I hope readers come out of the book less worried about their own happiness and, paradoxically, happier than before. I hope they live serenely and joyously because they are less self-oriented.

We don’t find happiness when we try to fulfill our desires—we find it when we stop looking for it and start focusing on serving others. Happiness according to Jesus is generous and unexpected: by letting go, we find; by giving, we receive. Happy are those who share their happiness.

* * *

Begin your journey to true happiness. Download The Paradox of Happiness today.

2 Days Left to Enter the iPad Giveaway

Giveaway ends June 30th

Tomorrow is the last day to enter Vyrso’s iPad 2 Giveaway. If you haven’t entered yet, now is your chance. The giveaway ends Thursday, June 30th at 11pm, Pacific Time.

What is Vyrso?

With Vyrso, you’ll find books by bestselling authors like Donald Miller, Dave Ramsey, Ted Dekker, and more. Whether you like to lose yourself in a mystery, kick back with a comedy, or dive deep into a biography, Vyrso is your Christian ebook store.

While the full Vyrso store is launching soon, you can download the Vyrso app for free right now, and start reading one of 25 bestsellers at 50% off.

Learn more about Vyrso on our new About page.

How to enter the giveaway:

  1. Visit Vyrso’s giveaway page and click “Join giveaway now.”
  2. Enter the contest using any or all of the 4 methods:
    • Like the post on Facebook.
    • Leave a comment.
    • Become a fan.
    • Send a tweet.
  3. You are then given a personal invite link that looks like this:punchtab widget

    If you share this link with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, email or elsewhere, you’ll earn an additional entry for every click! If they enter the giveaway, you’ll earn even more entries!

Haven’t entered yet? It only takes about 60 seconds. Visit vyrso.com/giveaway to get started.

If you’ve already entered, what did you think of this giveaway? Would you like to see another?

Rethinking Theology with the Moody Theological Studies Collection

I need to confess something.

The word “theology” used to freak me out. A few years ago, I couldn’t help but be intimidated by words like “exegetical” and “Septuagint,” not to mention issues like predestination that have been debated for centuries. These ideas seemed so far out of reach.
Moody Theological StudiesAnd since I wasn’t going to be pastor, I figured theology was not something I needed to be concerned about.

Boy, was I wrong.

Theology, which can be loosely defined as how we view God, influences every aspect of our life. Our thoughts about God—whether true or false—not only affect the choices we make, but how we view this world and ourselves.

Studying theology is just another way of saying you want to know God on a deeper level. Once I realized this, the word “theology” became a lot less intimidating. I didn’t need a Ph.D. or a background in Greek and Hebrew (although those are great things); I just needed a place to start.

In hindsight, I wish I could have started with the Moody Theological Studies Collection.

With ten books ranging from 90 to 1,376 pages, you have a concise collection of powerful knowledge that is also easy to read. Firmly rooted in Scripture, the authors address a full spectrum of foundational topics like predestination, worship, missions, spiritual maturity, and even economics!

Whether theology has intimidated you or not, if you have a craving to really know God and understand him, I would take a look at this collection.

Oh, and act quickly! The Moody Theological Studies Collection is on Pre-Pub and is about to go into development. It won’t be this price for long!

Leave us a comment and tell us how your view of theology has matured in recent years.

Our Best Selling Books on Marriage

married couple

Here at our headquarters in Bellingham, WA, the sun has just started poking out, tulips are blooming, and love, along with cotton, pollen, and many other allergens, is in the air.

Hello spring time.

Spring and summer are the most popular seasons for marriage in our part of the world and we thought it would be helpful to provide some resources for the couples, counselors, and pastors involved in pre-marital counseling.

We recently went through our entire library of marriage books, grouped them together, and ranked them based on their popularity in the past 15 months.

A few interesting notes:

  • Because buying a collection gives you the cheapest price-per-book, almost all of our collections outsell individual books.
  • We added many new individual titles in the past year which you may not have seen yet, such as Covenant Marriage by Gary Chapman and God on Sex by Daniel Akin.

We hope these books will be a source of wisdom and inspiration as you grow in your marriage and encourage new couples to grow in theirs.

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