If we’re honest, not every piece of curriculum is awesome. We can all agree that we want the best curriculum to share with the girls we lead. If you are leading a Bible study and you are the one making all of the decisions, then you can search out, pray through, and select the best study for your group. But, if you are a part of a ministry serving under the leadership of someone else, then you might receive a curriculum, study, or small group guide that was selected by someone else. Sometimes, what you are given is not exactly what you had envisioned.
Maybe you are so excited about the start of a new study with your girls...until you take a look at the first lesson you are given to go through. Your excitement deflates the moment you realize that your girls are struggling through the topic of dating and the study you are given walks through Old Testament sacrifice. First off, we can agree that both topics are valuable and it is good for us to study. But, you had your heart set on leading your people through a study of the life situation they are walking through or the piece of theology that they do not quite have a firm foundation on in this season. However, what you’re given does not hit those points.
For starters, don’t just go rogue. Don’t decide that you are going to choose an entirely separate study than the rest of the ministry you are serving with. Going rogue denies the authority that your ministry leader has been placed in. God calls us to respect the authority we are given. Take the time to go and speak with your ministry leader. They (hopefully) love and care for the people in your group as much as you do. There could be a reason that they have chosen this study. It might be a part of a bigger plan than what you know.
This situation could also lead you to a proactive place of leadership in the ministry you serve in. Share with your ministry leader(s) what your people are walking through. What topics, theological points, life situations, etc. are your people talking about, wrestling through, and seeking to understand? This information can be so beneficial to your ministry leaders as they walk the path of choosing what is best for your ministry.
If the curriculum you have been given is in direct violation of Scripture, don’t teach it. Obviously, teaching false truth is not glorifying to the Lord. This is one area that I would encourage you to keep the passage/topic (as long as it is biblically correct) and rewrite the study for your group so that it follows Scripture and leads your group to growth in relationship with Christ. Additionally, this would be a time to follow up with your ministry leader on the issue.
If you sense that the curriculum you are given does not dig far enough into the entire meaning of a passage, there are a few steps to take. First, look through the entire series. Will the curriculum cover all aspects of the topic over the course of multiple lessons rather than in one sitting? If so, take the time given to really work through and make sure your people have a full understanding of what you are teaching each time together. If not, find a way to lead your girls through seeing the entirety of the meaning. What questions can you ask to lead them through identifying all areas of truth? This is a great opportunity to teach your people how to exegete a passage.
If you sense that the curriculum you are given is too shallow, you have a lot of room to work with and to make it individual to your group. Find wonderfully creative and specific examples and illustrations that will resonate with your people. Look for cross-references in your Bible to the passage you are given to lead you to a bigger view of the topic. Work through application points that hit all areas of life, specifically those that you know your people are currently working through.
I love the opportunity curriculum gives in launching you to an open field of possibility in individualizing it for your group. You can work illustrations and examples to the best fit for your group. You can be creative in personal examples you share. You can use this opportunity to teach through different mediums based on the different learning styles of the people in your group.
No matter what your scenario might be, the best place to begin is to prepare early. Do not wait until the last minute to read through the lesson or prepare to teach. The earlier you begin, the more time you will have to identify issues and personalize illustrations and examples for your group. Let’s start preparing small group leaders! - Becca