Our Church uses the Seasons of the Spirit material which goes with the Lectionary. Can you give me good arguments of the benefits of the Joyful Path compared with the Season’s of the Spirit material for child education.
The Seasons material is well done and has been used by mainline churches in several countries for years. It follows the lectionary which some ministers feel they need. (Fewer and fewer clergy are following the lectionary.)Seasons of the Spirit retains its emphasis on centrist teachings and gently supports traditional Christian creeds. It is inclusive about women and subtly mixed families including what appears to be some GLTB families. All of their lessons are biblically based and follow mainline traditional teachings. We used Seasons in the church the church I served for over ten years until we started writing our own.
The Joyful Path is first and foremost about teaching and practicing Christian spirituality. It is setup to be used by topic rather than following the lectionary, that include 40 different lessons. It is by design interactive and includes spiritual practices for children. Its primary lesson is to help the children discover and relate to the Divine in themselves and each other. Many of the lessons focus on ways that we can practice the same compassion with all others as Jesus spoke and demonstrated so often. In the Joyful Path Jesus is recognized as a spiritual teacher as opposed to a Savior or Sacrifice. Every lesson has a biblical foundation but the lessons also include readings from scriptures from other traditions. Although it does not take a position that is in opposition to the traditional Christian creeds, there is nothing in the text that would necessarily support them. For example, we never suggest that any child is born flawed and is need of an intermediary to have a relationship with God or to be “saved’ for that matter.
Unlike traditional Christian curriculum, each lesson has a section to help the teacher prepare for that particular lesson, including suggested practices that the teacher can do during the week before meeting with the children on Sunday. Our assumption is that we are better teachers when we model something rather than just talking about it.
We have had rave comments about the curriculum from ministers, Christian Ed directors and teachers. More than one individual has written to tell us that it is the best curriculum that they have every used or seen. Many of these positive comments have come from people who have taught in Sunday schools for decades. We have sold nearly 250 units and only one has been sent back by the minister because she thought it was “too progressive.” Otherwise we are sincerely overwhelmed by the kinds of positive comments we have received so far. We will be posting some of those comments on the website in the Joyful Path curriculum section soon.
It is not a curriculum for every mainline church and it should be studied to make certain it is a good fit for a particular church for it to be used successfully. We have samples on our site that can be downloaded and we are set up so that teachers can exchange ideas about ways that they are using the curriculum. If you have not done so already I would suggest that you take a look. It might answer some of the questions that I have not addressed. (http://www.tcpc.org/template/page.cfm?page_id=116)
Thank you for your interest,
Fred C. Plumer
Promoting an approach to Christianity that is inclusive, innovative and informed