The YEA Advantage

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When CEM was initially started, we added to our Constitution and By-Laws that our goal was to create and publish literature to teach our youth the Word of God—our beliefs and traditions. Previously, no one in our tradition had put forth the effort and expense to compile a curriculum for our little tots and big kids. It seemed to be the norm to think that when a child had his 12th birthday, there was no need for a teenager to attend Sabbath School classes—that summer camp and youth activities were strictly to entertain our kids without teaching and indoctrinating them in the way of God.

I’ve simply never understood that way of thinking. My mother died at 76 and probably attended Sunday School the Sunday before she died. For Protestants, Sunday School is from the cradle to the grave. They would never think of stopping at age 12. We like to think we’re more righteous than Protestants, but somehow, our Protestant friends manage to keep a higher percentage of their kids in their faith than we do. How hard is it to find just one 12-year old child in our tradition who really knows the Bible—can explain why we keep the Sabbath on Saturday instead of Sunday and why we celebrate God’s holy days, or even name all of them. Frankly, we’ve failed and it has been the intent of Christian Educational Ministries to make a paradigm shift in our focus and to begin seriously to teach our children in a way to bring them to Christ. Isn’t it time to look at the fruits of what we’ve been doing, reevaluate, and make the necessary changes to please God with the way we teach our children and teens?

When the hormones start raging, kids need spiritual reminders as never before to see them through that period of time. Our kids are constantly barraged with peer pressures. The church and home are the two places where kids should be able to turn for support and answers. Our teens need a constant reminder that doing the right thing produces the right results. Kids need the Word of God indelibly printed in their minds and hearts—so they will not sin against God Almighty. Too often sins of youth are very costly and leave irremovable scars.

As CEM prayerfully laid out its curriculum, we felt God led us to make the first year’s curriculum for all five age groups the Life of Christ. The second year we designed a curriculum to teach creation, Noah and the flood, Abraham and his family, and the Exodus. This brought us to Mount Sinai where God gave Israel his Law that, if kept, would make children and teenager’s lives work. We stated as our goal to not only help each child become biblically literate but to come to repentance and baptism as early as maturity would allow, then become leaders in the Church of God.

From there we continued chronologically to help students grasp the story flow of the Bible. So the next 40 lessons were based on the great heroes of the Bible. Since the younger three age groups are in their classes for three years and the two teen groups for four years, to provide lessons for 17 years of a child’s life, there needed to be another year’s curriculum for the teenagers. So the Wisdom Series lessons were written for both teen age groups. These lessons are drafted to turn our teens into leaders—leaders in their community and leaders in church.

Before YEA started laying out this program, I gathered all the materials I could locate from our tradition to see what had been done. Frankly there was very little in print and much didn’t utilize teaching methods that would convey the Word of God to children and teens in a way that would lead them to Christ. So I visited local churches and pastors and picked up every Sunday School book I could find. I wasn’t looking for their doctrines, but for their methodology. Why were they more successful in keeping their children in their church than we had been, especially since God had shared his truths with us?

I visited Christian bookstores and purchased every teaching aid I could find—always asking what they were doing that was keeping their kids in their faith. One profound thing I found was that you can lecture a kid right out of your class—and kids consider more than seven consecutive sentences to be a lecture.

Children and teens need action! From the time the child enters the classroom until the closing prayer, there should be action, action, action! This is done by interactive forms of teaching with student participation. Good learning areas may even be a little noisy. But one thing for sure is you do not want a classroom so quiet that you can hear a needle drop. Nor do you want a classroom where students are unwilling to participate. Kids need to think, analyze, and discover God’s truths for themselves. Students are much more likely to accept a truth they discover for themselves than one a teacher or parent passes on to them. That is the way every YEA lesson is written.

Now I was ready to lay out a curriculum. Since God’s appointed times—the Holy Days of the Bible—are central to our beliefs, they had to be central to the YEA program. We couldn’t go to Group, Gospel Light, Life Way and other Protestant groups and use their books. We knew well that we wouldn’t find lessons in Protestant materials on keeping the Passover, the Day of Pentecost, the Feast of Trumpets, nor the Feast of Tabernacles. We could learn their methodology and use it, but those publishing houses simply don’t understand the Holy Days of the Bible and teachers would have to rework lessons to use their Sunday School and Vacation Bible School books (Vacation Bible School kits aren’t designed for Feast classes. They are designed to be taught in a local church to build that church.) Those organizations simply don’t understand many teachings of the Bible that we want to pass on to our kids and ensure they retain them.

So we set out to do something no one in our tradition had ever successfully done—that is to write a full curriculum of lessons to teach our beliefs and doctrines to our children and teenagers. This would be a massive job to write 50 different lessons for five age groups for 17 years, never duplicating a lesson—subjects yes, but at a different age level. This is something that not even other organizations in our tradition have been willing to try. CEM and YEA are unique in that we’ve been willing to invest the time and money so that our kids can have YEA lessons that teach God’s truths. So churches and children who use the YEA curriculum never repeat a lesson in the 17 years that a child is in the YEA classes.

After years of research and hard work, we have almost 900 different lessons in print in full-color books. So let me reiterate the YEA Advantage so you will understand well why you, your church, and your Feast site should get and use the YEA Feast books:

  1. You can count on the YEA books being biblically accurate and won’t have to be rewritten to fit our doctrines and traditions
  2. Each child is to have their own YEA full-color Feast book to prepare for each class and keep as a souvenir
  3. Each YEA book has its own full-color Parent’s and Teacher’s Guide to make teacher preparation effective and easy—the guide tells you how to teach each class, gives you review questions, provides activities to drive home the lesson and make it memorable, and even gives Scriptures, memory verse, and an appropriate song to sing
  4. It clearly lays out how to make each lesson fun and memorable
  5. It saves the teacher hours of time in preparation
  6. The YEA lessons are designed to bring your students to Christ and to baptism
  7. YEA lessons are designed to be exciting, fun, and enjoyable. YEA lessons will draw kids of all ages (three to 20) to your Feast site and make the Church of God doctrines clear, understandable, and fun
  8. YEA lessons are age appropriate.

There may be a time to purchase and use Vacation Bible School kits, but they are not designed to be used as Feast lessons—YEA Feast books are— they fit like hand in glove and you’ll be glad you ordered them. We challenge you to try the YEA lessons and let us know how well they worked.

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Image Credits: Joel Montes de Oca