“Teach the children and inspire them!”
An appeal of a special kind: Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider is constantly striving to keep an eye on the younger generation of the Church. This was not only part of his Pentecost sermon in Vienna, but also applies to the teaching materials that will be used in the various levels of Church instruction.
Ideally, children will become acquainted with the various chapters of Holy Scripture over the space of eleven years in their respective levels of instruction: Pre-Sunday School, Sunday School, Religious Instruction, and Confirmation Class. Syllabuses containing statements on doctrine, societal topics, and church history have already been standard for years. When the Catechism of the New Apostolic Church was published in December 2012, it soon became clear that the previous instruction material would also need to be revised. But it was quickly apparent that a superficial revision alone would not suffice: there was also a need for methodological and pedagogical changes.
At the last conference of the District Apostles in Vienna at the start of June 2017, they discussed this matter once again. So far, 36 new lessons for Sunday School have already been created and approved. This means that Volume 1 of the new children’s book—for children between the ages of 6 and 9—is now complete. And the first of the subsequent volumes is already in progress.
Sunday School lessons are complete
The source language of the Project Group Children’s Teaching Material is English. For this reason, Volume 1 is now only available in English. The translations into German and French are in progress, however, as the responsible chairman for the group, District Apostle Mark Woll from Canada explained. The Spanish translation will be completed by the District Church of Argentina. The book is to be available for use in the English-speaking regions this year, which means that it will be introduced in the next school year, 2017–2018. The European areas will only begin this process after the translations have been completed, likely in the 2018–2019 school year.
New teaching material for Religious Instruction and Confirmation Class too
New textbooks are also to be created for children in Religious Instruction (aged 10–12) and children in Confirmation Class (aged 12–14). Already some time ago, the District Apostles decided that Confirmation Class should in future incorporate two years of instruction. This meant that the corresponding syllabuses would also have to be revised. These are to be bindingly approved at the next international meeting of the District Apostles.
A challenge for the Church
In 2011 an exhaustive global analysis of the existing teaching materials showed that the available instructional materials were in need of revision. In order to keep the costs for this under control, the teaching materials were to be made available for download from a website in the future. Here the many different languages would also need to be considered. After all, the teaching materials were also to be understood in each child’s own language. Here the New Apostolic Church—with its many years of international activity—already has a great deal of experience. The Divine Service Guide and the Catechism of the New Apostolic Church, for example, are also available in many different languages as strategically important publications.
Teaching materials on a website of their own
In the meantime, the programming for the English-language website has been completed as well. It was created by the Project Group CTM. Teachers in New Apostolic congregations around the world will soon have access to these instructional materials on their personal computer, tablet, or smartphone. The ambitious goal: by September 2017, the first 36 lessons for Sunday School are to be uploaded. There are already four of them on the site: Noah and the Ark, Eliezer finds Rebekah, Jesus and Nicodemus, and Jesus and the Samaritan woman.