What is the Living the Word: Teaching God’s Story series about?
Living the Word: Teaching God’s Story is a series of full-year faith formation materials for all ages in a congregation, teaching the story of God’s love in the Bible from Creation through the early church. The Scripture readings for the lessons are correlated with the readings of the Narrative Lectionary, allowing congregations using the Narrative Lectionary in worship to teach their students the same stories in class.
What makes it unique?
Other than following the Narrative Lectionary, this series is unique in several ways. First, the breadth of products for all ages (elementary age, youth, adults, home devotional resources, and cross+generational worship and education) allows for the integration of your congregation’s faith formation efforts. If you have a more traditional organization of worship services, children’s ministry, confirmation/youth group, adult small groups, each of these faith formation ministries can use Living the Word products and be learning about the same stories, making connections between worship and education, as well as between members of various generations. All the members of a family can contribute to a discussion of the day’s Bible story, as all have learned something about it! If your congregation has (or is moving toward) a more “non-traditional” model of faith formation, you can use our Cross+Generational Worship products (for interactive edu-worship experiences in the service), Cross+Generational Education products (for an intergenerational or family classroom experience), our Sharing God’s Story @ Home bulletin insert (for assisting family home devotional practices, with or without our more traditional products!
How else are these products integrated together?
Starting in 2016-2017 (Narrative Lectionary Year 3), all of our products will have several things in common. In addition to the similar structure of our curriculum products (with Into the Story, Learning the Story, Living the Story, Bible Nuts & Bolts, etc.–See below for more information on these components), our products are divided into the same seven thematic units. Within each unit, every lesson is focused around a single “big idea,” which we call “The Point.” So, even if the 1st graders and the adult small groups are learning in developmentally-appropriate ways, they are all focusing on the same Point!
When are the Living the Word products going to be available for the 2016-2017 program year?
The Living the Word (2016-2017, Year 3) products will be available for download by or before the dates listed in each product’s description. Generally, the year is divided into Fall, Winter, and Spring Units and each unit for each product will be published as soon as it is finished. The Fall Units will be available between June 1 through August 1, 2016, while the Winter and Spring Units will be available between June 1 through September 1, 2016. We will announce the release by email, e-newsletter, and Facebook as the time is approaching!
What is the Narrative Lectionary and why do congregations use it?
The Narrative Lectionary is a four-year calendar of Bible readings for use in congregational worship. The Narrative Lectionary (NL) was created by Professors Rolf Jacobson and Craig Koester at Luther Seminary (St. Paul, MN) to give an alternative to the popular Revised Common Lectionary (RCL) and to teach congregations the basic narrative or story of Scripture as a whole. The NL is a 9 month lectionary that begins on “Rally Day” (the first Sunday in September after Labor Day) and continues through to Pentecost (usually the end of May or beginning of June). As opposed to the RCL’s standard four Bible readings for each worship service, the NL provides one central Bible reading for each service. The readings begin at Creation in September, cover many of the important figures and events of the Old Testament in the Fall, reaching the promise of the Messiah in the Prophets during Advent. At Christmas, the readings turn to one of the four Gospels (one year for each Gospel, therefore a four-year cycle) and continue in that Gospel through Easter. After Easter, the readings turn to the early church in the Book of Acts and the Epistles (Letters). More information on the Narrative Lectionary can be found on the Narrative Lectionary FAQ (Note: Link will open a webpage not created or maintained by Spirit and Truth Publishing.)
Do we need to use the Narrative Lectionary in worship to use the Living the Word curriculum/resources?
No! The Bible stories covered in the curriculum and resources are chosen to correlate with the readings of the Narrative Lectionary, but everyone can benefit from learning the sweeping story of God’s love in Scripture!
Why did you create Living the Word?
At the time this project was begun, congregations who were using the Narrative Lectionary and who wanted their faith formation programs to match the readings used in worship had to create their own resources and curriculum. Spirit and Truth Publishing decided to use our experience from creating and publishing Spirit and Truth: Teaching Kids the Heart of Worship to provide much needed resources for faith formation and the Narrative Lectionary.
What are the curriculum objectives for Living the Word?
There are three main objectives of this year-long curriculum.
- First is to provide an educational resources for congregations using the Narrative Lectionary and who want their entire congregation to be focusing on the same Bible texts all year long. This type of whole-congregational learning experience allows for sharing between ages, helps students connect Sunday school/faith formation with worship, and helps them understand what is going on in worship.
- Second is to provide students of all ages with a developmentally appropriate understanding of the major story (narrative) of the Bible through an introduction to the major stories of Scripture. Instruction will include issues of basic biblical literacy, the scope and structure of the Bible, and a timeline of Bible stories. The Bible is foundational to the Christian faith as the “first language of faith,” therefore students must be introduced to the Bible at every developmental stage, from the large scale of what God is doing to the small scale of how to find things in the Bible.
- And, third, to provide students with instruction and practice on how to encounter and draw closer to the God of the Bible. Knowledge of Scripture is an important characteristic of a life of faith, but it is not sufficient to build a living relationship with God. God comes to us with immeasurable love, but for us to grow in and enjoy this relationship, we must learn and practice activities that help us spend time with God. These products will provide activities in the classroom, sanctuary, and small groups, as well as at home for students to practice the spiritual disciplines of Prayer, Worship, Fellowship, and Service, all within the context of Stewardship (understanding that all that we are and all that we have are gifts from God to be used in love and service to God and neighbor).
What are the common components of the curriculum products?
Each curriculum product (Kids, Youth, Small Groups, Cross+Gen Education, and Cross+Gen Worship) includes in its own way:
- Background Pages – A summary of the unit theme, The Point, background information, and a diverse menu of possible activities all make it easy for leaders to prepare for their own unique experience.
- Bible Nuts & Bolts – Each week, a different theme or structure of the Bible is introduced to give students an understanding of the Bible as a whole.
- Learning the Story – Students engage in the week’s Bible text in a variety of ways, from Bible study to puppet shows!
- Living the Story – Students connect the Bible story to a spiritual practice (prayer, worship, fellowship, or service) each week through a practical activity, helping students live out their biblical faith.
- Additional Activities or Information – Each lesson includes a wealth of additional games, crafts, service projects, and/or other activities to reinforce the day’s Point and spiritual practice.
- The Story @ Home/Daily Bible Readings – Each product includes or recommends a family/home devotional resource that includes a common schedule of daily Bible readings and devotional challenges. (The Cross+Gen products do not contain their own take-home, but recommend the Sharing God’s Story @ Home bulletin insert).
What products are offered?
The most current list of products for each year is available on our Living the Word Overview page, along with links to the individual product descriptions.
How does the pricing work?
In order to make the curriculum accessible to smaller congregations, pricing for many of the Living the Word products is based on the average size of a specific portion of your faith formation program (e.g. the Kids (PK-2nd) pricing is based on the average attendance of your PK-2nd students). What’s more, there are no additional leaflets to purchase (ever!) or licenses to renew, so once you purchase a season or the whole curriculum, there are no further costs other than activity supplies! The Narrative Lectionary is a four-year cycle, so once you purchase a year’s curriculum, you can reuse it every four years!
What if I only want to use this curriculum for a small portion of my Sunday school program? Do I have to pay the full price?
Typically, pricing is based on the entire PK-2nd or 3rd-5th/6th grade student attendance (or PreK-5th grade if 6th grade is part of confirmation). But, what if you wanted to use these materials only as a pre-confirmation program for your ten 5th/6th graders instead of all of your 3rd-5th/6th classes? In cases like these, you contact the publisher and request a Partial Attendance License, which would allow you to purchase in the 6-10 student range. If you then decided that you would like to use the purchased materials in more classes, then you would need to upgrade to a new license. Contact us and complete the Partial Attendance License for more information.
Is the Narrative Lectionary or Living the Word specifically Lutheran? Can I use it if I belong to a different tradition?
The Narrative Lectionary was created by two professors at a Lutheran (ELCA) seminary, but their goal was to increase biblical fluency in any congregation that is interested. Although complete statistics are not tracked, there are hundreds of congregations using the NL throughout the United States, Canada, Australia, and probably other parts of the world, too! Similarly, the Living the Word materials are created to be used within any Christian denomination or tradition. Previous Living the Word customers included congregations from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, United Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church USA, United Church of Christ, Anglican Church of Canada, American Baptist Churches, Assemblies of God, and many others!
Are there other materials to support congregations using the Narrative Lectionary?
Yes! In addition to Spirit and Truth Publishing’s educational products, there are several sources of Narrative Lectionary resources available. Here are a few examples!
- Working Preacher (Preaching Help)
- RevGalBlogPals (Preaching Help)
- Narrative Lectionary Facebook Group
- Clergy Stuff (Worship Resources)
What if I have other questions not answered here?
If you have any other questions, please call the publisher or use the contact form found on the Contact page. We’d love to hear from you!