Growing in the Word and Growing in Grace

Teaching Bible History and the Catechism

Growing in the Word and Growing in Grace are two catechism curricula from Northwestern Publishing House. Following are common questions and answers regarding the courses and their potential use in your school or church’s classroom.

How might I use these courses in my particular classroom setting?

For settings where the age groups are divided (e.g., 5th and 6th graders are in a different class than 7th and 8th graders), you might use Growing in the Word for the 5th and 6th graders to establish a more solid Bible History basis before moving into direct Catechism instruction with Growing in Grace for 7th and 8th graders.

For settings where all ages are combined into one class (whether it be 7th and 8th; 6th through 8th; 5th through 8th, etc.), you might alternate Growing in the Word and Growing in Grace year by year, so that students get a mix of both focused Bible history and focused Catechism instruction throughout the class. If students are approaching confirmation in a Bible history year, the teacher may wish to more heavily review some portions of the previous year’s Catechism instruction to ensure the students are well-equipped for confirmation.

Are these courses geared primarily toward public school students?

Both courses work well for either a public school or Lutheran Elementary School (LES) setting.

Growing in the Word’s Bible History lessons will expand on what is most often taught for Bible History in an LES room (including lessons on the return from exile in Babylon, one lesson on the intertestamental period, a lesson on prophesies about the Savior in the Old Testament, and a look at Paul’s missionary journeys and trip to Rome). The core of the Bible History lessons will build on familiar accounts for students coming from a Sunday school background. They may even enable students with no formal Bible History training to see how God’s plan of salvation was executed through God’s faithfulness to his promises.

Growing in Grace’s Catechism lessons are similarly appropriate for students in any setting. The Bible narratives that serve as introductions to the lesson concepts are generally familiar accounts from LES Bible History, Sunday School, and Sunday worship. What is most important is that by using Bible history lessons as the background for teaching the catechism concepts, students recognize that doctrine is drawn from the truths of God’s plan of salvation.

I have catechism class twice per week in my LES, can you explain how I might use the Growing in Grace curriculum in that setting?

Each course comes with yearlong schedule templates to help teachers arrange lessons in a way that fits their classroom setting. Each course comes with a template assuming 1 90+ minute class will be held per week (usually a Public School student schedule) or 2 50+ minute classes will be held per week (usually an LES student schedule). Growing in Grace adapts well to the luxury of time that an LES schedule provides, allowing for dedicated review days before tests and the ability to split up some longer lessons over the course of two class periods.

Will the Growing in the Word curriculum seem too elementary for students who have been in LES for since Kindergarten?

Growing in the Word will likely be a mix of review and new, both in the accounts covered and in the applications that are made. The course helps solidify the blessings of learning Bible history that the students have already enjoyed before entering this class.

Are these curricula interdependent? In other words, if I use one, one year, do I have to use the other the next year?

No. Each one can be used independently of the other, but they do work well together as schedules allow. They both also have uses outside of middle school Catechism instruction. Growing in the Word may serve well in part or in whole for adult classes who wish to review or learn more Bible history. Growing in Grace can be adapted for use in Bible Information Class settings as well.

Over the years I have developed my own Catechism course. But I sense that my students could use a stronger background in Bible history. Will the Growing in the Word curriculum fit in well with my own curriculum?

Absolutely! Growing in the Word will allow you to review or introduce the concepts from the parts of Luther’s Small Catechism. In this setting, the teacher will likely wish to tailor his review or introduction to coordinate well with how he handles these subjects in his more Catechism-focused teaching.

I use a different catechism. Will this curriculum work with a different catechism?

Certainly! The reading assignments printed in the books do correlate with the new NPH Catechism, but the teacher could easily modify those. In other words, the courses would work well with any catechism.

I read somewhere that these courses are “translation neutral.” What do you mean by that?

There are no Bible passages printed in the courses themselves, only references, so teachers can decide which translation(s) they want to use in their classes. Also, printable handouts with supplemental passages for both courses are included on the Teacher’s Guide CDs in both NIV 2011 and ESV translations.

Our congregation hopes to use the EHV translation once it is complete. Will these curricula work with that curriculum?

Definitely! Because no verses are printed in the course, any translation—current or future—can be used with these lessons.

Click here to compare features of the catechism and its supplementary resources, and discover which tools are right for your classroom!


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