United Methodists Unveil 'Live B.I.G' Sunday School Curriculum

The United Methodist Publishing House unveiled a new Sunday school curriculum aimed at getting children excited about Sunday school on Friday.

"We want children to ask to go to Sunday school – to drag their parents out of bed to take them to church," said Marj Pon, director of children's resources, to the United Methodist News Service (UMNS).

Churches will begin to use the interactive “Live B.I.G” (Belief in God) program in September and more than 400 churches have been selected as test sites for the curriculum. The program offers colorful characters, “cool” music, and travel segments designed to make use of the three ways children learn – hearing, seeing and then living what they learned.

"We need a way to bring kids into the 21st century and assist teachers," said Patricia Prillaman, director of Christian education at Parkview United Methodist Church in Newport News, Va.

"It made all the difference in the world [to the children in my church]” Prillaman told UMNS. "Prior to this curriculum, the children were bored, sitting around a table, doing their Sunday school lesson. With this program, they were jumping, singing and happy."

In “Live B.I.G”, children are shown videos with age-appropriate characters that lead activities including puzzles, crafts, and a coffeehouse for teenagers.

A component of the program is a website that enables children and parents to expand the Sunday school lesson through the week.

"We are planting the seeds; this is a curriculum the kids can grow with," said the Rev. Ken Butts of College Heights United Methodist Church in Pittsburg, Kan., one of the test churches. "We are hoping it will stimulate interest and get the kids to tell their parents they want to go to church."

The United Methodist Publishing House tried to find ways to capture children’s attention in a multimedia world where the average American family watches 8 hours and 11 minutes of television a day according to a report from Nielsen Media Research.

The curriculum is an annual resource with 12 DVDs, a teacher’s book and student books designed to cover the Bible in two years.

"I really think this is one of the best things to come out of Cokesbury," said Suzann Wade, diaconal minister Chapel Hill United Methodist Church in Oklahoma City. "I think it will help kids understand how the Bible connects with their daily lives."

Pon was quick to say it not just about showing videos to children.

"The most important thing,” the resources director said, “is a teacher who has a relationship with and a love for children - that is what makes the biggest impact in a child's life."

“Live B.I.G” will be available to order in June for fall classes.