As many of you know, I use the Elevate curriculum for my weekend services. I am a firm believer in the large group/small group model over the traditional Sunday School model. There are many reason for this but one of the main ones is consistency. Basically making sure every elementary kid gets the same teaching excellence in large group which of course can’t happen in the traditional model. The current series that we are doing is entitled Berry Blast Theme Park. As usual the Elevate guys do an incredible job with graphics and environments. Darrel Oldenburg is the manager of this and deserves a ton of credit. He use to be a designer of ceiling fans and now puts his gifts and talents into Children’s Ministry. Way to go Oldenburg!
On to the point… In this series, Elevate makes one huge improvement. The parent piece that comes with each lesson has a drastic change for the better. Here is a sample of this week’s Family Devotional or parent piece to hand out at the end of the service:
So what are the big improvements? For one it is a full page and not a half page. This makes a difference and makes it feel more important. Second, there is a service project for the family to do together. Even for the 75%-80% it is great for those that take advantage of it. This is called not shooting for the lowest common denominator. Thirdly, is the bottom cut off portion. It actually encourages every student to take action and rewards them if they do. Now I know that several of you are not big on rewards and church but they way this is done is not the “If you accept Jesus you get candy” or the “Here is a big pencil with our church logo on it” type of stuff. It really does encourage proper behavior outside of the weekend services.
One improvement that I wish they would do is put this piece into color. It doesn’t cost them anything extra and would give us the opportunity to hand out something that looks better. Color beats black and white on every hand out. Hands down.
So there is the improvements to the curriculum. Here is where I think this series declined. Now let me say something before I tell you the bad. First and foremost, I believe Mike Johnson is the best story teller/children’s sermon guy in America. I have quite a few and his presentations are incredible. He taught me everything I know about sound effects, scoring a talk like a movie, the use of props, and the use of audience participation. I owe him a great deal. Now that’s out of the way. The large group portion, specifically the Bible Time of Berry Blast, I wish was done a different way. I wish instead of Mike being on the video telling the story that the story pieces were given to us. Like I said Mike is incredible, but I believe that stories are told much better in person than on videos. Now I understand consistency. I understand not everyone can tell stories using video as their backgrounds. I even understand that Mike telling it on the video is much better than most can do, but just give me the option. You have in the past and when the story was told by all video in the past it has been done more like a movie or a drama than a storyteller.
So my conclusion is this. Great job improving the parent piece but please give it to us in color. If you are going to make the Bible Time into Storyteller time please give us who really want the files to be able to be that Storyteller.