Kidology Spotlight Ministry Resource: DiscipleLand
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Author/Source: Karl Bastian, the Kidologist
Kidology takes a look at DiscipleLand curriculum in this Kidology Spotlight Ministry Resource, a ministry we believe deserves a closer look by leaders in the children's ministry marketplace.
A Kidology Spotlight Ministry Resource is a children's ministry resource that Kidology believes stands out in quality and excellence. We independently choose ministries that we believe deserve a closer look by leaders in the children's ministry marketplace.
This downloadable printer-friendly PDF document is designed to be shared with others in your church with our hope that you will find it another helpful resource as you minister to children.
In the Spotlight: DiscipleLand
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"Go and Make Disciples"
As DiscipleLand founder, Mark Steiner, often says, "Jesus only left us with one assignment: to go and make disciples." It was Mark's passion for making disciples of children that led him to devote his life to creating a curriculum that did much more than just teach the Bible to kids.
As a Christian Education Director, Mark became frustrated with popular curricula that seemed to repeat the same limited Bible stories over and over while missing so much of what kids really needed to grow up into lifelong disciples of Jesus Christ. As he began to explore what kids really need spiritually, he developed a systematic strategy for making the most of the six to eight years that children are a part of a children's ministry. This resulted in the formation of a completely new kind of curriculum. Used first in his own church, and then borrowed by others who discovered it, eventually it became evident that Mark's uniquely biblical approach to making disciples needed to be made available to churches everywhere. DiscipleLand was born.
What Kids Really Need?
The heartbeat of DiscipleLand is asking "What kind of kids do I want to produce?" or "What is God's desire for them?" As Mark Steiner says, the answer is surprisingly simple! He explains, "Christ commissioned the Church with only one task - 'make disciples.' Disciplemaking is the most pivotal ministry that churches can provide.
In two concise commands, Jesus Christ spelled out the quintessential duty of every human being: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart (emotional), with all your soul (spiritual), with all your mind (mental), and with all your strength (physical). Love your neighbor (relational) as yourself' – Mark 12:30-31.
As a boy, Christ developed in these same ways: 'Jesus kept increasing in wisdom (mental), and stature (physical), and in favor with God (spiritual), and with men (relational)' – Luke 2:52.
Throughout the Bible and Christian history, God's people have been identified by three traits:
- KNOWLEDGE: Growing disciples KNOW God intimately (mental, spiritual)
- CHARACTER: Growing disciples LOVE God passionately (emotional, relational, spiritual)
- CONDUCT: Growing disciples SERVE God selflessly (physical, relational, spiritual)
A Curriculum with a Higher Calling
DiscipleLand is unique in that its purpose is to address all three of these child's spiritual development realms. While there are many quality curricula on the market designed to teach kids Bible content, DiscipleLand was designed to equip the church to partner with parents to make disciples of Jesus Christ. Strong Bible content is at the center of DiscipleLand, but it is not the final goal. Biblical content is a means to a higher purpose in an overall disciple-making strategy that also includes Christian character, life skills and a biblical world view. (Not to mention the Gospel, often mysteriously absent even in the strongest of biblical curricula available.)
A Curriculum that is Uniquely Better
Even with the strong philosophical reasons for considering DiscipleLand, there are many practical reasons that make it a superior curriculum worthy of consideration:
- Translation Independent – meaning, Bible passages are not printed in the student materials so DiscipleLand works with any translation. More importantly, kids actually need their Bibles at church to engage and interact with the lesson content.
- Uses a One-Year Cycle - meaning that teachers teach the same thing every year getting better and better. Rather than feeling like they are handed a completely new job every quarter, they can learn from experience what works best. Often teachers will devote more time to preparation knowing they can use the activities or props again the following year. Churches also find that more teachers return to teach again since following years bring easier preparation. Teacher retention rates will increase when DiscipleLand is used.
- Non-Dated Materials - meaning the teacher guides and student books are not dated, so you can be more flexible when you use them. Also, DiscipleLand is more affordable since you can use extras the following year and purchase teacher guides and resource kits only once. And with only one piece per student you save even more.
- Visually Stunning - DiscipleLand materials have outstanding visual appeal. Not only are very contemporary and kid-friendly graphics used, but DiscipleLand also owns exclusive rights to a vast collection of beautiful classic biblical art, making the combination one of the most appealing curricula on the market.
- Kid-Friendly Characters - Throughout the material kids learn with three fictional characters named Dee, Cy and Paul, and their dog Chip. Put together their names are pronounced: "Deecypaulchip" (Discipleship). In addition, the characters age with the lessons so that the characters in the material grow and develop along with the students.
A Curriculum that is Stronger Educationally
In an age when Christian children's education is so watered down that few youth have even the most basic biblical knowledge, DiscipleLand stands in stark contrast to what many churches are considering their Christian "education." Christian colleges report that biblical literacy has plummeted in the past twenty years to where some consider incoming freshmen students to have essentially zero biblical knowledge!
Our churches are failing to provide basic biblical education and are opting instead for trendy virtue-based lessons that are more geared toward producing good kids than biblically-solid kids. Virtues are important, but if they are not taught upon a strong biblical foundation they will lose their staying power. Kids need to learn how we got the Bible, why it is authoritative, and how to study it for themselves. DiscipleLand's main criticism in the marketplace is that it is too "tough" or has too much content - which tells us more about our churches than about a curriculum.
- Strongest Scope and Sequence – Many popular curricula repeat 65-80 stories over and over as a child grows up. In DiscipleLand no Bible stories are repeated in grades one through six. Students get a solid overview of the entire Bible.
- Biblical Education Foundations - Beyond simply teaching Bible content, DiscipleLand educates kids on the historical culture of Bible times, how we got the Bible, and, in level six, students actually earn how to do inductive Bible study on their own!
- Christian Life Skills - DiscipleLand also teaches kids the life skills they need to live as a disciple of Jesus Christ. The Christian life is more than what we know, it's what we do with what we know that matters most.
- Missions Focus - Develops kids' worldview with an emphasis on missions.
- Gospel Included! - The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association noted that of all major curriculum publishers, only DiscipleLand included the Gospel message as an integral part of the material. To be light on the Gospel is a dangerous omission!
A Curriculum that is Empowers Parents
DiscipleLand Bible Curriculum sees parents as a key element in the disciple making process. Rather than added as an after-thought, DiscipleLand is designed to equip the church to engage parents in the process of raising young disciples of Jesus Christ.
- Stunning Unit Overview Posters are included in the material for a child to put on display in their room. Over the course of a year they form a map of the lesson content, aiding parents in reviewing with their children what they are learning at church.
- Beautiful Bible Trading Cards, one per lesson, with questions about the lesson on the back to help parents review the lesson with their kids. As kids enjoy collecting the cards, parents can continue to reinforce what they have learned throughout the year.
- Best Kept Secret of DiscipleLand: DiscipleZone.com - A FREE online tool for parents to engage their children in further learning. Children can read about the history behind classic hymns of the church, enjoy a Dee Cy and Paul story that further illustrates the lesson of the week, learn about a people group missionaries are reaching with the Gospel or explore the topic of the week deeper with a parent's help. A teacher can even provide a personalized message for their class to get each week at home when they log on and enter a unique "class code." This cutting edge parenting tool is absolutely free for DiscipleLand teachers, parents and kids!
What if there is no Sunday School?
DiscipleLand is designed for and best implemented in a church that has a Sunday School hour. However, many churches do not have the space for Sunday School, or use a large group/small group teaching format. In those cases, here are some options as to how DiscipleLand can still play a role in helping to make disciples of children:
- DiscipleLand Adventure Series - DiscipleLand offers several 13-week stand alone series from Christian basics to other topical studies that can be used for special classes, one-on-one discipleship, or for a confirmation class.
- Provide Resources to Parents - Parents can be challenged to take their children through the Awesome Adventure - My New Life with Jesus series or to work through the materials at home. Home school families can really benefit from DiscipleLand.
- Adapt for Large Group - Adapt the lessons from the curriculum or Adventure series to a large group and you'll have wonderful take-home materials, Bible trading cards and the DiscipleZone.com website to follow up and reinforce what is being taught at church.
Worth a Serious Look
If you are serious about making disciples - if you have a concern for kids developing a strong Biblical world view - if you are frustrated with the shallow and simplistic content of much of what is available today - if you believe that the Gospel is a critical element in educating our children - if you understand that most missionaries receive their missionary call as a child - if you want to have the tools to help parents get engaged in the process of raising kids to know, love and serve God, then you need to seriously consider how DiscipleLand might become a part of your disciple-making strategy.
A Kidology Spotlight Ministry Resource is a children's ministry resource that Kidology believes stands out in quality and excellence. While we do allow our spotlight ministry to review before publication to avoid any errors, the content was written and generated independently by the author.