I absolutely love discipleship. And I love starting discipleship young. But, when it comes to training children, it can often be difficult to know how to cross that bridge from Bible stories to discipleship. That is where material such as What’s Up by Deborah Harrell and Jack Klumpenhower can come in handy.
What’s Up is a highly interactive discipleship course for middle schoolers. It is created to be a group Bible study course with “homework” for the students. Because it is published by New Growth Press, I knew from the get-go that it would be a course designed to challenge and grow students.
Here’s what I love about What’s Up?:
- The course introduces real theology. Theological terms are used and defined, explained in a way that makes sense to middle schoolers while not watering down the depth. This is incredibly crucial for solid discipleship.
- The course is not dry and dull. It’s very hands-on and interactive, forcing students to work through their understanding and new knowledge.
- The teacher’s book has teaching notes integrated directly into the student layout (yet still clearly distinguishable) so the teacher knows exactly what the student sees at all times.
- Although prep and familiarity with the information is definitely necessary, everything is laid out to make prep as easy as possible. This leaves time for personal, spiritual preparation.
There is really only one thing I dislike about What’s Up? The layout is very busy. While on the one hand this makes it interesting, it also keeps heading and titles from standing out well. It can be difficult to distinguish when a new lesson starts. The busyness will also be more detrimental than helpful to some learning styles.
I do have to add that I have not actually been able to use this course with a group, unfortunately. Why? Well, because it requires homework, and I currently do not teach a group that would be diligent with homework.
I will say that I do not consider that to be a negative. Any measure of discipleship and growth requires a commitment to personal times of study. I would absolutely love to find a group of middle schoolers who would be committed to a study like this.
It is possible to do this course with just one or two students, so I could do it at home with my girls. But, based on my experience as a teacher and discipleship leader, I can easily see that it would not be as effective.
So, I’m hanging on to this curriculum and looking forward to an opportunity to snag a group of middle schoolers to lead through it!