May 4, 2013

Review: So What? Youth Bible Studies

2 Min Read

The So What? Youth Bible Studies produced by Great Commission Publications (a ministry supported and directed by the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and the Presbyterian Church in America) are designed for ninth to twelfth grade students. They are part of a larger connected curriculum for children ages two through seventeen. The entire curriculum is designed to teach students the whole Bible and God's plan of redemption in Christ from a distinctively Reformed perspective based on the Westminster Standards.

I had the opportunity to review three separate studies: Treasuring God's Word, A Study of Romans, and Worshiping God. Each study comes with materials for the students as well as an extensive leader guide. The student materials and the leader guide are attractively put together. The graphics are obviously designed to appeal to the audience, and the content is well organized. Teachers will find these studies very "teacher-friendly." Electronic resources include already prepared Powerpoint slides.

The Treasuring God's Word bible study is divided into four units (thirteen total studies):

  • What's so special about the Bible?
  • What's the Big Story of the Bible?
  • How do we interpret the Bible?
  • How do we use the Bible?

The Leader Guide offers an overview of the entire study, a helpful guide to getting started, an explanation of the different materials, tips on leading an effective study, and an explanation of the digital resources available on the So What? website. For each individual study, there is a lengthy section called "Leader Prep" designed to help the teacher prepare for the study. For the students, a separate booklet is devoted to each of the four units. The format of the booklets is appealing, and the questions are designed to get the student to dig into the Scriptures and think about what they read.

The Study of Romans bible study is divided into five units (thirteen studies) following the structure of the book of Romans chapter-by-chapter. The layout of the Leader Guide is identical to the layout of the Treasuring God's Word guide. Rather than an individual booklet for each unit, the student is provided a single Roadmap to Romans booklet that includes all five units and a Romans Journal that helps the student apply the teaching of Romans to his or her life.

The Worshiping God bible study is divided into four units:

  • The Why of Worship
  • The How and What of Worship
  • The Elements of Worship
  • The Sacrifices of Worship

Both the Leader Guide and student materials are designed along the same lines as the other leader guides and student materials. Helpful discussion questions called "Meaningful Conversations" are interspersed throughout the studies.

My experience with youth-curriculum has been disappointing. Many well-intentioned designers of such materials end up creating studies that do not engage the students very well. The So What? Bible Studies do not suffer from this flaw. If you are looking for a solidly Reformed youth curriculum for your church, I highly recommend considering this series from Great Commission Publications.