No paper. No misplaced quarterly. No out-of-date leftovers. No recycling of printed curriculum. No expense for postage. No extra cost for printing and artwork. No added charge for promotional expenses incurred through direct mail pieces.
Stated more positively, it is always available on one's home desktop or work-notebook computer. It's undated, providing a longer shelf-life. It's available online with a pre-order, free sample lesson. It's far less expensive, enabling churches to allocate more money for missions and less for educational resources.
The "it" refers to the Baptist Center for Ethics' online, ongoing, more affordable Sunday school curriculum under the moniker Acacia Resources. BCE's curriculum is a 21st century approach, not the old way of dated, print curriculum.
Last week, I double-clicked on a PDF file on the desktop of my home computer and scrolled to the Sunday school lesson on the separation of church and state in a 13-week unit titled Real Baptists.
Immanuel Baptist Church had ordered this unit and a class leader emailed the PDF unit to every class member a number of weeks ago.
Churches in North America, Australia, Austria, Canada and Scotland have discovered and benefited from our online curriculum.
Yet we remain puzzled why more churches haven't ordered our educational material. Why haven't simplicity in ordering, affordability and high-quality material proven a more persuasive argument for usage?
One answer is that some ministers of education are rut-stuck. They're afraid to introduce a new way of doing religious education. These ministers prefer to instruct their educational assistant to fill out the same form as last quarter and mail it in; expense doesn't matter and theological content is secondary. They have always used printed curriculum and they're not changing.
Another answer is that some laity don't know that multiple curriculum options are available, including Acacia Resources. We contend that if laity knew about an online and more affordable curriculum, then they would ask their staff about why they are rut-stuck.
A third answer within the Southern Baptist context is that some ministers and churches can't let go of the old order, even though the Southern Baptist Convention's publishing house has become fundamentalist and is shaping the world view of moderate churches. These ministers and churches cover their eyes to the danger of the frog in the kettle syndrome.
A fourth answer is that BCE has done a poor job communicating about its educational resources.
BCE provided educational resources from its very beginning. We believed that moral education necessitated moral education resources. We started producing online curriculum pieces to provide more time-sensitive material to churches on pressing issues. Yet we've not connected effectively.
We are determined to communicate more clearly, persuasively and frequently about what we think is the best material available for Sunday school classes.
As you consider our educational mission, look through the host of lesson writers. How many of the lesson writers below do you know?
Bob Ballance, Laurence Barber (Canada), Howie Batson, Rod Benson (Australia), Alistair Brown (United Kingdom), Bert Browning, James Browning, Rick Burnette, Gary Burton, Daniel Carro, Christopher Church, Mike Clingenpeel, Ron Cook, David Crocker, Carolyn Crumpler, Tony Cupit (Australia), Don Davidson, Bob Dibble, Dough Dortch, Pam Durso, Jim Evans, Donna Forrester, Bob Fox, Don Garner, Erich Geldbach (Germany), Tim and Karen Gilbert, Jack Glasgow, Wayne Hager, Ken Hall, Keith Herron, Jim Holladay, Barry Howard, David Hull, Fisher Humphreys, Ginny Ireland, Carol Anne Janzen (Canada), and Marv Knox.
Other writers include Gary Light, Mark McEntire, Lois Mitchell (Canada), Mike Mitchell, Paul Montacute (United Kingdom), Dwight Moody, Carla Nelson (Canada), Parush Parushev (Bulgaria), Joe Phelps, Allen Reasons, Jeff Scott, Bob Setzer, Bill Shiell, Drew Smith, Keith Smith, Mike Smith, Joel Snider, John Upton, Michael Usey, Richard Vinson, Charles Wade, Doug Weaver, David Wilkinson, Bill Wilson, Mark Wingfield, Carol Younger and Karen Zurheide.
If you know these folk, do you trust them? If you trust them, then why not try an Acacia Resources' unit in your Sunday school class?
Click here to look at our online resource catalogue. Give your class members some options for a new way in Sunday school for relevant, Bible-based material.
Robert Parham is the executive director of the Baptist Center for Ethics.