Jesus 4U!
Various Authors, David C Cook, 2008

Price varies
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Overview

What does it say on the tin?

Jesus 4U! gives kids 40 minutes to 1 1/2 hour lessons of solid Bible teaching and serious discipleship on 12 Jesus stories without hours of teacher preparation. Titles include: Follow that Star!, Come, Follow Me!, The Wedding at Cana, Lessons on a Hillside, The Very Big Little Lunch, Storm Stopper, Good Sam, A Little Girl Lives, Little Man in a Big Tree, Through the Roof, One Sword too Many, and Easter Faith.

What do you get?

Access to 12 easy-to-plan lessons on stories about Jesus. Each session includes an introductory overview for leaders and links to Bible passages. Available here digitally.

Who is it for?

Material can be adapted for children aged 2 – 7 years old

Cost?

Free if subscribed to Disciplr, there are several packages, or this curriculum can be accessed during a 60 day free subscription at: https://disciplr.com

Review

  • What is the overall quality of material presentation?

    Very good. This resource focuses on key stories in Jesus’ lives and is highly flexible yet light on preparation. Children aged 2 - 7 years old are very different developmentally, and this resource includes options which are accessible for each age range depending on time and ability.

    How clear are its aims and outcomes?

    There are two aims listed per session, ‘learn it!’ which focuses on the key theme children should learn by the end, for example ‘God sent his son for us’ and ‘live it!’ which states a practical application.

    How accessible are the leader’s notes?

    Leader’s notes are very easy to follow and incorporate a good amount of detail without making the resource unappealing. The ‘Quick Start Guide’ is essential reading before looking through the sessions as it explains in three concise pages how to run sessions.

    Who could lead it?

    Children’ Workers, trainee Children’s Workers and other Christian adults passionate about teaching children about the life of Jesus.

    How helpful are the participants’ resources?

    There are paper handout resources for children which are very good. They are simple, low on mess, relevant to the teaching and cheap to supply. For example, children are given stars to cut out when learning about the birth of Jesus which are designed to hang in the family’s home.

    How good is any digital material?

    All material is available digitally, including extra resources and links to Bible verses. All content is very good, easy to prepare and age appropriate options are clearly defined.

    How much prep will I have to do?

    These sessions are designed to late between 40 minutes to 90 minutes depending on whether optional sections are done, for example crafts. Preparation is very easy with the resource being designed to ‘pick up and go’. Leaders need to read through the ‘Quick Start Guide’ to understand the pureose of each section and choose what they will do. A puppet is essential for each session, and most resources are found in standard craft cupboards, with the exception of those resources required for the optional ‘Workshop Wonders’. Leaders may need to find a few helpers for the dramas too, and depending on the age group present, will need to decide on what content will be included, excluded or adapted. This resource has a lot to offer in terms of flexibility, with preparation time being at a minimal to run in Sunday School, after school clubs or weekly groups.

    Is there website support? Links?

    The series is available digitally, and there are links to supporting material and Bible passages.

  • How well does it encourage interaction with the group?

    Children interact throughout the whole session with the leader and one another and the more optional activities which are included, the more they talk and enjoy the stories. There are suggestions for older children to be included in dramas and the children continually answer questions throughout each section, whether these are prompted by the script, discussion or extra resources.

    How well does it cater for a variety of both learning and delivery styles?

    Children learn through dramas, reading the Bible, answering questions, completions crafts or games and during discussion. There are a variety of delivery styles with the option to incorporate more or less of each one depending on context.

    How adaptable is it to my situation?

    These sessions are designed and can be adapted for children aged 2 -7 years old with each one running between 40 minutes to 90 minutes. They can be used with large or small groups and even include a very easy session option which can be picked up with very little preparation; this requires a photocopier, basic classroom supplies, an instant drama and one handout which is supplied. Beyond the basic session, a puppet is needed to assist teaching, and there are dramas, small group time, and an optional craft, games or science experiment. Some helpers are needed and the resource recommends one leader to every 8 - 10 children during small group time. The resource is very flexible, and easily adaptable with sound biblical basis which teaches 12 different stories from Jesus’ life.

    How well does it encourage people to work together in applying the material?

    Children apply material during the ‘Shepherd’s Spot’ small group sections where they answer questions and complete paper activities. The use of volunteers in the main teaching also encourages children to apply material together as they answer questions after the main drama.

  • How much of the material is Bible-based?

    The whole session teaches the stories of Jesus, with the most concentrated Bible time being during ‘Shepherd’s Spot’ where children sit in their small groups and are given time and space to read the passage and answer age appropriate questions on what the passage means and how it applies to them.

    How well is the biblical material presented and used?

    Biblical material is presented very well, through a mix of dramas, audience participation, puppets and children having quiet time to read the Bible itself. The children then discuss the content, answer questions and complete simple paper based activities which are provided. Leaders summarise the key messages for children to consider to ensure that the learning aim is taught.

    How well does it apply biblical material to everyday life?

    As this series covers Jesus’ life and some of his key teachings, there are many opportunities for children to learn how to live by how Jesus lived and what he taught. For example, when learning about Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, children are asked “Do you think its fair for Jesus to ask us to love people who are mean to us?” and then go on to think about why this is important and how they can do this as well as encourage others to do this. The material encourages children to apply the material to everyday life both in their character traits, and in what they do.

    Is there a particular theological perspective?

    No specific liturgical references or denominational references. Open for all church and small group use.

  • How well does it inspire people towards whole-life discipleship?

    Children are encouraged to grow in whole-life discipleship in every session in a way which is relevant to the story which is told about Jesus. For example, in lesson 2, children learn that Jesus is our leader and that he has called us to be disciples. They consider why Jesus chose ordinary people to be his followers and think about what they need to leave behind in order to follow Jesus. The subsequent sessions then delve in to deeper teachings about how to follow Jesus, for example, when learning about Jesus calming the storm, they are encouraged to put their trust in God in to practice by giving their worries to him. They are asked “When do you need to trust in Jesus' power to control the things that are happening around you?”

    How well does it encourage and enable people to grow in their faith?

    Children are encouraged to grow in their faith most directly by listening to statements about Jesus made by the leader and responding to questions they probably have never been asked or considered before. By doing this, they learn about Jesus’ character, his purpose on earth, and what he has called them each to do. Children don’t just learn the easy messages, but are presented with harder to follow guidance like to love your enemies through the Sermon on the Mount, and to trust God when things are scary and going badly through John 18:1-11.

    How well does it stretch faith and vision of God and his purposes?

    Children learn that God came to save people and that we can have a part in that mission. They see that he chose ordinary people, dealt with sin, and are empowered to be full of confidence due to what he has done for them. They learn about the character of Jesus and how they can be like him as well as practical skills like praying, reading the Bible and talking to God in their day to day.

    How well does it connect with real life issues?

    Each session connects with real life issues on a level which is appropriate for the age group, as well as stretching their understanding of problems. For example, when learning about the good samaritan, they not think about the problem of being poor, beaten and hurt, but also consider in small groups what other kind of hurt people can experience which isn’t visible.

  • How well does it encourage personal evangelism?

    Personal evangelism is encouraged in most of the sessions with a particular emphasis in sessions 1, 2, 4, 11 and 12.

    How well does it encourage local or network-based community involvement?

    Children are encouraged to help their neighbours and family in some specific sessions. For example, when learning the story of the good samaritan, they think about why people may have not helped and although they are encouraged to help others, they also consider how they can do so while remaining safe themselves. In their small groups, they then consider how they can help others from ideas provided in the session.

    How well does it connect with global issues?

    Global issues are not a focus of this curriculum.

    How well does it encourage global mission?

    Global mission is lightly addressed when considering Jesus’ life and his teaching people about God, and gaining followers wherever he went. Children learn that they can do they same as they are called to be more like Jesus.

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