Monday, March 10, 2008

A Worship Curriculum for 4th – 6th Grade

About three years ago the director of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship suggested that Laura and I might consider writing a curriculum that Christian elementary schools could use to teach worship. We took up that challenge and, over the course of that summer and the following school year, created the curriculum, Together We Worship. This week, we got our copies of the final product, now published by Christian Schools International.

I have fond memories of writing this curriculum. That summer Laura and I discovered the joys of walking out to the pier on the south side of the Holland channel, near the lighthouse. It was on those walks that we hammered out the ideas behind this curriculum. One of the great challenges was that we could assume very little with respect to what the children had experienced about worship. Worship services around North America can be quite different and we didn't know if these children were in churches that practiced a very traditional type of worship, a very contemporary form of worship or something in between. In addition, we didn't know what kind of training the teachers would have in thinking about worship so our notes had to be fairly extensive on the content of the lesson. On the other hand, because this was to be used by professional educators we could assume more teaching skills than we can when we write for Sunday School teachers. Another complication is that for other curricula we had written we had been given a format to follow – we had no such format for this unit because it would be a stand-alone curriculum and we really were starting with a blank slate. Those discussions happened often along the Holland channel and on the shores of Lake Michigan. We could jump in the car and get there in about 7 minutes from our house and that was a great opportunity to explore a part of Holland that we really hadn't explored before.

After our initial work was done the Institute invited 15 Christian schools from around North America to participate in a day-long workshop around our work. That consultation day happened almost exactly two years ago. Here is what I wrote at the time. We asked each school to send two teachers (often one classroom teacher and a music teacher) to spend the day with us and then to use the curriculum in their school and to send us feedback on what worked and what didn't. That day was great. Many of the teachers sent us good feedback and we revised the curriculum and then waited to see if we could get it published. Thanks to the work of a number of people the curriculum is now available in print and on CD. Special thanks to John Witvliet, the staff at the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship and the teachers who helped us revise this work. It is great to finally see it in print!

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