The Sunday School curriculum we are developing incorporates the Faith Seeker Kids™ vision and rests on the assumption that we are all life-long faith seekers. It is our firm hope that children will believe in something greater than themselves. However, the specifics of what they believe are less important to us than their capacity to believe in something. We also want them to be able to articulate what they believe and to develop some version of a faith practice – a way to remind themselves of what they believe in.
Faith development requires both courage and knowledge. It takes courage to be compassionate, to question your own viewpoints, to explore other traditions, and to live life to its fullest. Luckily, many cultures and traditions have offered valuable insights into how this might be accomplished. Legends, rituals, holidays, ancient texts and practices from around the world can assist us as we journey along our own faith path. Here are some of the grounding principles we are using to develop our curriculum. Please see Instructional Theory, Features/Details, and Sample Lesson Plans for more information.
Bible: We recognize the Christian Bible as a foundational religious text for American culture. However, we do not view the Bible as the inerrant word of God, and we do not require the Bible to be taken literally. Instead, we view the Bible as a compilation of very old stories and myths. The Bible is full of legendary characters who exhibit great faith, impressive acts of love, incredibly treacherous behaviors, and a remarkable range of human emotion. These tales provide our children with opportunities to connect with our ancestors, to study how humans relate to the world around them, and to understand more fully how people might view God/the Divine/the Great Mystery. The Bible is not viewed in the same way by all Christians, so we also use the Bible as a starting point for understanding different versions of Christianity. Many people are surprised to learn that literal interpretations of the stories are sometimes presented in our curriculum, but with everything we teach, the kids decide what they choose to believe. It is fascinating to watch how their beliefs change over the years.
Ancient Stories from Other Traditions: For many people, especially those who adopt a literal interpretation, the Bible is a document that prevents interfaith conversation. From our perspective, the exact opposite is true. The Bible is a wonderful, narrative text that is full of stories. This makes it perfect for kids. In fact, every other major religion in the world offers stories. For example, the Asianic traditions (Hinduism/Buddhism) provide the Panchatantra and the Jataka Tales. These ancient stories have migrated around the world, morphing with the linguistic and cultural traditions of place. Similarly, the Islamic tradition provides the Tales of the Prophets, a compilation of stories highlighting the blessed acts of God’s prophets who are referred to in the Qur’an. People have always shared stories about timeless topics – justice, compassion, peace, moral living, and a better understanding of the Sacred. Luckily, some of these accounts were eventually written down, allowing us to make connections between the stories of the Christian Bible and those of other traditions.
Holidays: All religious traditions also celebrate holidays. In their specifics, the holidays seem quite different from one another, but in a general sense, they are often rather similar. Many holidays commemorate acts of great faith. Others focus on gratitude, the earth’s bounty, and one’s relationship with the Divine. Nearly all provide opportunities to rest from work, to spend time with friends and family, to wear special clothes, to decorate in a festive manner, and to eat particular foods. Learning about, or even celebrating, the holidays of other traditions, is a very simple way for both children and adults to connect with other faiths. And who doesn’t love a holiday?
Christian Festivals: Jubilee! Community Church celebrates Christmas and Easter, so we are also developing units for those portions of the Christian calendar.