Resource: re:form Ancestors
Company: Sparkhouse (wearesparkhouse.org)
I love the curriculum produced by Sparkhouse. Sparkhouse does a fantastic job of creating engaging and theologically sound curriculum for youth ministry. Sparkhouse has found a way to engage youth in Scripture through the use of humor, media, and creative activities. One of these Sparkhouse curriculums is re:form Ancestors.
Re:form Ancestors is a video-based Bible curriculum. Although the product was originally targeted at high school youth, in my experience it has worked well with the middle school crowd as well. There are two re:form Ancestors curriculums: one for the Old Testament and one for the New Testament. Each curriculum includes fifteen lessons that cover different characters in the Bible. Each lesson is designed to teach youth about the character and to help them explore this character as an ancestor in their faith
Each lesson has three parts. First, youth encounter the Ancestor through a five to ten minute video and by looking at the Scripture. Then, youth engage in the story through different activities. Finally, youth respond to what they have learned by reflecting on the Ancestor and by engaging in a closing prayer and activity. These three parts in sequence create a thoughtful and exciting lesson for youth (and their leaders).
What I love the most about this curriculum is how it engages youth. The videos tell the story of the Ancestor through humor, and the activities include exciting games and other hands-on experiences that bring the story to life. When I used this curriculum with middle schoolers, they were able to dig deep into each story and ask questions that I never would have expected. They were excited to come to Sunday school and see what new and exciting lesson was planned for them that day!
A complete set of curriculum includes three resources: a DVD with all of the videos, a leader’s guide, and an “anti-workbook” (an activity book) that can be purchased for each youth. The DVD and leader’s guide are a great value. The DVD contains all fifteen videos for that particular curriculum (either Old or New Testament). The leader’s guide gives complete and clear lesson plans along with great background information and little tidbits (such as quotes) to help put the theology and Scripture in context. The anti-workbooks can become pricey (you have to buy them individually for each youth), but the curriculum is flexible enough that you can do all of the activities without the books if your budget doesn’t allow. I would suggest purchasing at least one book for you to use, so you can see the different activities. The books are not reproducible. Lessons can also be purchases a la carte, if you only want to use one or two lessons in a curriculum, but not all of them.
Overall, the re:form Ancestors curriculum is a great program for youth groups to use. If you use both the Old and the New Testament curriculums, you will have a program year’s worth of fun and engaging Bible lessons. I loved my experience with the Old Testament curriculum, and other youth ministers who I have talked to about this curriculum love using it as well.
For more information or to view curriculum samples, you can visit the Sparkhouse website at http://wearesparkhouse.org. You can also view other Sparkhouse products for children, youth, and adults. There are many great resources!
Victoria Hoppes is the Associate for Youth and Camping Ministries for the Diocese of Pennsylvania.