Brian McLaren has this interesting little appendix in his latest book in which he offers the image of a four-legged table as the thing that can convene Christians in today’s world. Rather than rely on, say, a single motto like Solo Scriptura to unify people of faith today, he’s suggesting the four legs as supports for a shared faith commitment.
The four legs are 1) a compelling story, 2) inspiring saints, 3) a meaningful practice, and 4) a vision of the future.
This is not a post about Brian McLaren’s appendix, though. This is a post about a curriculum template for youth ministry.
If a young person regularly participates in youth group from the time she’s in the 6th grade to the time she graduates high school, she should do a lot of work with the Bible. She should learn its core stories and grapple with the claim they make on her life. She should also encounter some theological constructs like grace and faith. Important people from the history of the church should be presented to her during those years at some point, too. She should learn how to pray and read the Bible. She should relate her religious belief to her peer relationships (including romantic ones) and a world filled with systemic injustice.
A curriculum template is about planning for all that stuff. There are mission trips and retreats and worship services to support all that youth group content, but my template isn’t worried about those other events. It only wants to organize youth group lessons.
Could McLaren’s appendix be a useful organizing principal for a seven year youth group curriculum template? From the 6th through the 12th grades, a teenager in our youth ministry is regularly invited to a table supported by 1) and inspiring story (the core Biblical narrative), 2) inspiring saints (men and women from the Bible, church history, and their own congregation, 3) a meaningful practice (prayer, Scripture study, service), and 4) a vision for the future (relationships, justice, social life).
Unless somebody talks me out of it, this is what I’m going with.