Rick Clark wasn’t satisfied with the commercial Sunday School curriculum available for children.
Believing that children should be systematically discipled in Scripture, he didn’t see any material with the scope and sequence he felt children needed. And none of the existing materials included the distinctives of the Grace Brethren statement of faith.
So he wrote his own.
Clark, who at the time was pastor of the Manheim, PA, Grace Brethren Church, got the idea for a children’s curriculum during the 1995 national conference in San Diego where CE National’s Ed Lewis was the moderator.
Holed up in his conference hotel room, Clark sketched out a curriculum covering grades 1-6.
Based on the general theme “Kids Under Construction,” he called the material for grades 1 and 2 “Blocklayers.” Each month’s material focuses on one major teaching such as God, Jesus, the Bible, salvation, etc.
For grades 3 and 4 he continued the focus on the statement of faith, and called these learners “Framers.”
And finally, for grades 5-6, whom he called “Finishers,” he devised a program in which fifth graders chronologically study books of the Old Testament, beginning with Creation and ending with the Book of Esther. The second-year Finishers—sixth graders—study the New Testament from the birth of Jesus through the life of Christ and end with prophecy.
Each lesson has three aims:
- To teach children systematically to be like Christ;
- To involve children in active learning through games, puzzles, drama, making objects, etc.;
- To teach for life-change.
Working from his original outline, Clark took the next two years to write the curriculum. He field-tested it with children in 1996 and 1997, revised and re-wrote the material, and taught it again in 1997 and 1998.
In 1999 he transitioned to his current church, Pike Brethren Church in Johnstown, PA, where he continues to use and refine the materials. He’s now gone through two cycles of the lessons in Johnstown, is completing the third edit, and feels the material is ready for a wider audience. His wife, Cindy, who has a degree in education, used her 25 years of Christian Education experience to help with scope and sequence and with making all the materials and language age-appropriate.
Each quarter’s material is on a CD with a lesson and activities. The leader/teacher takes files off the CD and prints them. The materials are available as Word and .pdf files, since Adobe readers can be downloaded from the Internet for free.
The CDs are available for $45 per quarter (plus shipping) and samples may be seen at www.kidsunderconstruction.org.
Some of the content is distinctively Grace Brethren, such as the threefold communion and triune mode of baptism. Grades 3 and 4 have a whole month just on the communion service. One month every year is devoted to missions. Grace Brethren missionaries and programs highlighted include James Gribble in Africa, growth of the church in Argentina, the specialized ministry of the Chateau in France, and more.
Kids Under Construction lessons are currently being used in 12 Grace Brethren churches, and reviews are very positive.
An educator from Manheim, PA, says, “For the teacher, there is more material each week than you will probably use…you can have confidence that your children are receiving a comprehensive survey of Grace Brethren doctrine…the material is easily adapted to meet time constraints and the specific challenges of your teachers and their pupils.”
A teacher in Alaska responded, “I just finished teaching the first month of lessons...I especially appreciate the number and diversity of learning activities. I had a Mom thank me Sunday morning because her son was once again coming to and enjoying Sunday School.”
A Florida educator wrote, “The teachers who have been using your material in our Children’s Church ministry for the last two months have been loving it. It has really worked well for us and the content is great.”
And a teacher from Johnstown, PA, said, “It gives a wealth of background material for each lesson. There are lots of learning activities that keep the children actively involved. I have been teaching these lessons for the past five years and the students never get bored. Each lesson ends with a personal application that gets right to the heart of the lesson.”
Yet another responded, “You can sure tell the long hours of work that were put into these lessons. But the possibilities of many coming to know Jesus as Savior and Lord of their lives are surely worth it.”
Rick Clark, who first became acquainted with the FGBC through the Leamersville, PA, GBC, says, “I have a passion that kids learn the Scriptures. I didn’t when I was a kid—we only went to church once or twice a year.”
Saved at seven, Clark dedicated his life to God at 17 after being in a serious auto accident. He went on to earn his bachelor’s degree from Lancaster Bible College, and then his Th. M. and D. Min. from Grace Theological Seminary.
Reflecting on his nine years of work on the curriculum, he says, “My prayer is that these lessons will be used to train a new generation of devoted followers of Jesus.” Time for prayer requests and praying are also built into the lessons because, he says, “We need to teach our children to pray out loud comfortably and as a normal part of their Christian life.”