When people share why they love The Gospel Project® for Kids, the two reasons we hear the most are the gospel-centered content and the chronological scope and sequence. These two elements go hand-in-hand most of the time and only cause minor adjustments around Christmas and Easter. During those seasons, our strategy is to step out of the chronology and to offer two or three Christmas or Easter sessions and then step back into the chronology as seamlessly as possible. Most of the time this works well; however, Unit 32 presented a bit of a challenge for us because we were already in the middle of the last week of Christ’s ministry.
The Spring 2015 Jesus Saves Volume picks up the chronological events near the conclusion of Jesus’ earthly ministry, having already covered the miracles and teachings of Jesus in the Winter 2014-15 Power and Parables Volume. Unit 31, “Toward Jerusalem,” brings us right up to the last week of Jesus’ ministry before the crucifixion and resurrection and sets up Unit 32, “Easter,” well. But here’s where we encountered the problem of the timing of Easter Sunday itself. This year, Easter falls on April 5. The problem is that April 5 is the second Sunday of four Sundays for that unit. That left us with three options, one of which which proved to be unacceptable.
The first option was to condense Unit 32 into two sessions to make it fit the Easter schedule. The problem with this is that it would have required us to eliminate vital sessions on the Preparation for Passover (Session 1) and The Last Supper (Session 2). These sessions are too important to the gospel narrative to eliminate so that option proved unacceptable.
That left us with two other options. We could either stay faithful to the chronological approach of the material, but that would require us to schedule Jesus’ Crucifixion and Resurrection (Session 4) two weeks after Easter Sunday itself, or we could step out of the chronology as we normally do, but that would result in potentially confusing kids when they cover the events immediately preceding the crucifixion and resurrection right after it. Neither option is ideal. Each has an advantage, but each also has a disadvantage.
We tried to accommodate both approaches in the leader guide by presenting the sessions in chronological order, but offering a suggested use schedule that would teach them in a way to have Jesus’ Crucifixion and Resurrection on Easter Sunday itself. That is why your Contents page looks this way:
April 12 Session 1: Preparation for Passover
April 19 Session 2: The Last Supper
March 29 Session 3: The Triumphal Entry
April 5 Session 4: Jesus’ Crucifixion and Resurrection
So what should you do? Well, the answer to that question is found in what you value more. If you value the chronological approach, follow the session schedule. If you value teaching about the resurrection on Easter Sunday itself, follow the suggested use schedule. Either way you choose, you can help equip your leaders by sharing a suggested transition like one of these:
- Following the Chronology:
You will be teaching The Last Supper on Easter Sunday. Encourage your leaders to tell kids that the Last Supper pointed to the cross and resurrection of Jesus – what you are celebrating today on Easter Sunday. Share that the gospel story of the Bible from Genesis has led up to this moment and you will learn more about it during the next two weeks.
- Following the Schedule:
You will be teaching Preparation for Passover the Sunday after Easter. Encourage your leaders to explain that the crucifixion and resurrection were not easy for Jesus’ followers to understand so Jesus began to prepare them for these events and the Preparation for Passover and The Last Supper were two ways Jesus did this. Explain that you are going to see how these events helped prepare Jesus’ followers for His death and resurrection and then in Unit 33 you will see how He prepared them for ministry after He would leave.
Either way you choose to approach Unit 32, be encouraged that you will be leading kids to see how the crucifixion and resurrection are the culmination of what you have learned to this point in The Gospel Project for Kids.
If you have any other suggestions or ideas for how to approach this unit that you believe might help other leaders, feel free to leave a comment. We would love to hear from you!
Brian Dembowczyk is the team leader for The Gospel Project for Kids. He served in local church ministry for over 16 years before coming to LifeWay in 2014. Brian earned an M.Div. from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a D.Min. from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Brian and his wife, Tara, and their three children – Joshua, Hannah, and Caleb – live in Murfreesboro, TN, where Brian enjoys drinking coffee and teaching 1-3 graders at City Church.