Children's Mission Education Part VI
Workshop Spurs Curriculum Production
Too few Christian book stores carry mission curricula for children; even book publishers seem unaware of the need or of what they are producing. The USCWM's mobilization division convened a "Children's Mission Curriculum Consultation" November 13th and 14th 1987 to help remedy the situation.
So where do you go when your local Christian bookstore has nothing on the subject? Templeton suggests a little ingenuity and old-fashioned determination could come in handy. "Women hunt for clothes. If they want something, they'll go ' and hunt for it until they find it. Just because it's not there in the first store they go to doesn't mean they give up!" Mission curriculum shoppers simply need the same kind of motivation.
Still, it would be nice if more stores carried mission curricula and those who had such materials knew what they had on hand. Publishers themselves don't seem to be aware of what they're producing. When asked what books they have on missions for children, a spokeswoman at Moody Press in Chicago confidently replied, "We don't have anything like that." Yet their most recent catalog lists close to 20 missionary biographies for children!
To Dennis Schwarm of Boring, Oregon, a former staff member of Child Evangelism Fellowship and now with CAM International, the problem is one of packaging. There are a lot of individual ingredients available÷stories, crafts, audio-visuals÷ but no one has put them together in a unified, well thought-out package.
"CEF, for instance, has great individual lessons. There are a lot of great filmstrips, slide-tapes, overheads, etc., but when you give them to teachers, they ask, 'But what else do I do?' and 'What should I use for a four-week course, or for five days (VBS)?"'
After packaging, he said, "We need to speed up the production process." He mentions Christian Nationals Evangelism Commission's "Escape Into the Night" curriculum (see MF, September 1987): "It's like reading a good book and finding it's the only thing the author has produced! It's great stuff, but what do I do next year?"
Whatever the root problem, Wesley Tullis, chairman of the mobilization division of the U.S. Center for World Mission, convened a "Children's Mission Curriculum Consultation" November 13th and 14th to help remedy the situation. Close to 40 people÷some of them writers, most practitioners÷met on the U.S. Center's campus to talk about what they've been doing, where they are going, and what needs they still see in the way of children's mission curriculum. Most left satisfied that a first step had been taken toward alleviating the problem, but they were also hungry for more.
Jan Bell, a mission education consultant from York, Pennsylvania, said she came with the idea that everyone was working on Sunday school curriculum. She was quickly disabused of that opinion! "We're all doing things in different areas. My focus is to bring about change in the Sunday school, but then there are fiction novels, videos, movies, biographies, puppetry, drama, music, toys....
"There are so many different areas we could all be working in. Seeing all these areas, I came a-way with the sense that, 'Wow! There are a few things that are happening, but we've got a long way to go. There's so much we could influence.'"
Ele Parrott of Renton, Washington, said the conference helped her realize where she fits in "the big picture." But while it was gratifying to realize her church is one of the few "doing mission education on a formal basis week-to-week, that brought a lot of concern to my heart for the nations." She's hoping another meeting will more adequately address the need for "direction on where to go from here."
Bell concurred. "In the next meeting we need to focus on getting direction. I need to find out how I fit into this larger picture÷as well as how we all fit in. How can we best multiply ourselves?"
Despite the disappointment÷CNEC's Finley said she thinks they "just ran out of time"÷there were a few solid steps taken.
Perhaps the most significant was an informal agreement to establish curriculum resource centers at the U.S. Center for World Mission in Pasadena, and in Jan Bell's home in York, Pennsylvania. Conference participants were encouraged to send samples of "everything you've got" to the Center and to Bell. One of the goals of such collection points is to establish computerized, annotated bibliographies of the materials available. Another is to establish resource lending libraries.
Indeed, Dick and Dorothy Schultz of Wycliffe Bible Translators have been working for the last year and a half to create just such a curriculum resource center at Wycliffe headquarters in Hunt-ington Beach. The materials gathered at the center÷everything from "visualized" stories to songs, to artifacts such as clothing, cooking utensils, hunting equipment, and textiles÷was to be cataloged and available for loan to the general Christian public.
As a result of the conference, the Schultzes decided they might more profitably pursue such a goal on the campus of the U.S. Center for World Mission. They hope to move to Pasadena by the first quarter of 1988 in order to finish the work they have begun.
Said Dorothy, "I can see resource centers all over the country. People don't want to come way down here (to Pasadena) if they're in York, Pennsylvania. If there's a need for us to have a resource center here, why isn't there the same need elsewhere? At least we'll start one here as a model to go by."
Schwarm said he is looking forward to the establishment of such centers. "The week before the conference, I walked around talking to mission agency reps, asking if they had anything for teaching missions to kids. Most agencies have two or three things like that. They developed them for appointees and candidates who need help teaching kids. But teachers÷they only know one or two agencies.
"It would certainly be helpful if I could write to a place and ask, "Do you have anything on inner cities in Latin America?' and they could refer me to who has that kind of thing, or else (even) have it available on the spot for me to borrow."
Interested in helping the cause? Write Wesley Tullis, 1605 Elizabeth Street, Pasadena, CA 91104. Send a list of materials you have found helpful for teaching missions to kids; send the name, address, and phone number of anyone else you think should be integrated into a network of children's mission curriculum writers/producers. Any other ideas?