What is Spirit and Truth: Teaching Kids the Heart of Worship?
Spirit and Truth: Teaching Kids the Heart of Worship is a Christian education curriculum that engages students in the liturgical worship tradition by stopping and explaining why we do what we do in Lutheran worship. The liturgy many churches use is a rich resource for worshipping God, but the meaning is opaque to many of us, especially children! Let’s open up the meaning of our worship services to students so we can all worship our Lord together!
Why did you create Spirit and Truth?
From the publisher, Gregory Rawn: I was inspired to teach students about worship by my experiences as a father of two wonderful boys. When they were younger, they would be very restless and uninterested in worship, but I noticed that when we were doing something that they knew (like praying the Lord’s Prayer or singing a familiar hymn), they would be engaged. I had the idea, “What if I taught them the words and meaning of the liturgy?” My wife, Pastor Sheila Rawn, suggested I share my research with the students at our congregation, and the Spirit and Truth curriculum was born!
Why should we teach our students about the liturgy and church year?
Congregational worship is at the center of our life together as a church. And, many congregations follow the ancient pattern of the liturgy and church year in worship. However, what if many in the congregation don’t know what they are saying, or why they are saying it? Will they truly be able to worship the Lord in spirit and truth? The Spirit and Truth curriculum invites students to be full participants in worshipping our loving God, with their minds and their hearts!
How does Spirit and Truth teach students about the liturgy and church year?
The Spirit and Truth curriculum includes two main “units” of lessons. The Liturgy Unit consists of 18 lessons that begin with the all-important question, “What is worship?” and then moves through the liturgy in order, explaining the language and meaning in the liturgy. The Church Year Unit consists of 11 lessons that teach students the meaning of many of the main festivals celebrated throughout the church year. Also included in the full-year package is a short Advent Unit and a Christmas Worship Program, which can be purchased separately. To see the full list of lessons, please check out the Spirit and Truth Scope and Sequence!
What grade levels are offered?
Currently, the Spirit and Truth curriculum is available for Pre-Kindergarten through second grade (PK-2nd) and third through sixth grades (3rd-6th). The early elementary students (PK-2nd) are taught mainly through an illustrated picture book (PK-K) or story book (1st-2nd), in which the lovable Mrs. Heron teaches her Sunday school students the meaning of some of the main vocabulary of worship with heart and humor. The older elementary students (3rd-6th) teach each other about worship through an ongoing series of “reader’s theater” style skits, in which a humorous cast of characters sit through worship and try to figure out the meaning of the liturgical text and the church festivals. Confirmation, youth group, cross+generational, and/or adult materials may be offered in the future.
What’s different about the Spirit and Truth Advent Lessons?
The Advent Unit consists of three shorter lessons that are intended to be used in conjunction with preparations for the Christmas Worship Program. These lessons touch on three different aspects of Advent (the messianic promises of the Old Testament, Mary’s pregnancy, and the future return of Christ) with an Advent Focus Activity, while leaving time for students to prepare for and practice their parts in the Christmas Worship Program. Additional activities are also included. Advent lessons do not include the usual skits and stories that the Liturgy and Church Year lessons do.
Why do you include a Christmas Program? What is it like?
A Sunday school Christmas Program is a wonderful opportunity to teach students about the wonder of Christ’s incarnation. The Spirit and Truth Christmas Worship Program includes resources to help your Christian education staff and students to prepare a complete, liturgical worship service prepared by and led by students! These materials empower students (with plenty of guidance from their teachers) to take ownership over what they have learned about worship to write the prayers, creatively tell the Christmas story, and even explain and proclaim the significance of the incarnation to the whole congregation! These materials include a skit, a special Christmas liturgy, and resources to help classes to create the rest of the worship service.
Can I purchase individual lessons?
Yes! Congregations may purchase just one lesson for one grade range (e.g. the Easter lesson for PK-2nd graders). However, the price per lesson goes down if you purchase one of the units or the complete package! Currently, individual lessons can only be ordered online by arrangement with the publisher. To order, please email the publisher at G.Rawn@SpiritAndTruthPublishing.com or call at (262) 358-6574.
How does the pricing work?
In order to make the curriculum accessible to smaller congregations, pricing for the Spirit and Truth curriculum is based on the average size of your elementary Christian education program. What’s more, there are no additional leaflets to purchase (ever!) or licenses to renew, so once you purchase a lesson, unit, or the whole curriculum, there are no further costs other than activity supplies! We recommend that congregations create a schedule in which they reuse this curriculum every two to four years to engage students in worship at different ages and stages of their development.
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 PreK-6th grade student attendance (or PreK-5th grade if 6th grade is part of confirmation), even if you only want to purchase one age range of the curriculum. For example, if you have 8 classes (one for each grade) of 10 students each, then you would purchase in the 71-80 student range. If you wanted to purchase it only for the four 3rd-6th grade classes, then you would still purchase just the 3rd-6th grade materials in the 71-80 student range. But, what if you wanted to use these materials only as a pre-confirmation program for your ten 6th graders? In cases like these, you contact the publisher and request a Partial Attendance License, which would allow you to purchase in the 1-10 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.
Why is this specifically Lutheran? Can I use it if I belong to a different tradition?
Liturgies and worship styles vary across, and even within, denominations and traditions. The publisher originally created the curriculum for congregations within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Since the skits within the 3rd-6th materials use the actual text of the liturgy found within the ELCA’s and Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada’s (ELCIC) standard hymnals (Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) and Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006) both published by Augsburg Fortress, based on the text of the Anglican-Episcopal Book of Common Prayer), congregations within these traditions will find the text most familiar. However, the parts and much of the text of the liturgy are common amongst many liturgical traditions, so liturgical congregations from many different denominations can use these skits with some explanation or adaptation. The stories for the PK-2nd graders, the activities, and all of the Church Year lessons are accessible to all congregations who celebrate the festivals of the church year! See the list of themes covered in our Spirit and Truth (Non-Liturgical) Scope & Sequence.
Why do you recommend having a music time? What’s in the Music Leader’s Guide?
Music plays an important role in our worship services. Many congregations sing portions of the liturgy and almost all have hymns or worship songs for worshippers to sing along with. Younger students especially have a difficult time learning the music and the lyrics of the liturgy all while singing during the service. Taking the time with students to slowly teach them the music and words will help students confidently engage in the liturgy, and help them move beyond struggling with the music to actually worshipping God! In the Music Leader’s Guide, suggestions are made on how to teach students the music of the liturgy that your congregation uses, as well as suggestions for a “Song of the Month” so that students can become familiar with many of the favorite hymns or songs of the congregation.
What are the WorshipNotes forms? Why should we use them?
WorshipNotes forms are inspired by the common “sermon notes” required in many confirmation programs. WorshipNotes, available for both 3rd-6th graders and 2nd grade and below, encourage students to pay attention in worship and use what they’ve learned in class in the worship service.
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 our Contact page. We’d love to hear from you!