I get one question in the mail more than any other: “Jim, I’m leading a (men’s group / women’s group / youth group) at my church and I want to teach apologetics. What curriculum should I use?” That question was the impetus for the creation of three lines of adult and youth curriculum (the Cold-Case Christianity, God’s Crime Scene and Forensic Faith DVD Curriculum sets) and a robust kid’s academy at CaseMakersAcademy.com. But while we believe these resources are important and accessible, we know they will require tailoring to fit your setting an context. If you’re leading a group right now and searching for appropriate small group “apologetics” curriculum, I want to encourage you to be prepared to learn, modify and tailor any available curriculum (including ours) to your specific needs for these important reasons:
You Don’t Want to Miss the Opportunity to Address the Needs of Your Group
If you’ve been working with your group for some time, you’re the person who best knows their needs and best understands their “quirky” attributes. That’s why you’ve carefully considered the appropriate small group Case Making materials in the first place, right? Most of us find ourselves altering the curriculum we purchase so it will “fit” our group. I’ve also done this in the past, and there were times when the alterations probably took as long as the original authorship of the curriculum! Even with the best curriculum (from reliable sources), it won’t take long for you to find something you’ll have to modify and use in your unique small group setting. I you decide to begin with our curriculum, be prepared to make small modification to fit your needs.
You Don’t Want to Miss the Opportunity to Master the Material for Yourself
It’s virtually impossible to tweak and modify curriculum without mastering the subject matter. As a youth pastor, I knew I needed to be several steps ahead of my inquisitive young students if I hoped to survive the inevitable questions they would ask. I couldn’t fake this; I needed to master the material. It’s hard to do that when you are relying completely on the work of others who have written the curriculum for you. If you want to become a competent Christian Case Maker, you’re eventually going to have to master the evidence, and learning how to tailor the material for your specific group is an excellent way to learn the material deeply.
You Don’t Want to Miss the Opportunity to Familiarize Yourself with the Experts
If you’re going to be one step ahead of your group in this way, you’re going to have to become familiar with the people who are experts in the field. You may find a need to insert new or different material in spots to help your group understand (depending on the group you are leading). Like me, you’ll become a translator, trying to make the case accessible to people who need the information to defend what they believe or make a decision for themselves. We created our curriculum with you in mind, but don’t be afraid to stretch beyond what we provide to stay one step ahead of your group. If you do that, you’ll become familiar with all the expert sources and great thinkers in each field.
You Don’t Want to Miss the Opportunity to Create “New” Content
Every week, as I studied and modified existing curriculum and resources to teach my group, I discovered something new and sometimes found a novel, creative way to communicate it. In essence, I found myself creating new approaches and resources, inspired by the material I was using. I eventually decided to post everything online so my work as a translator might benefit others. That’s how our website was created in the first place, and that’s one of the benefits of modifying and tailoring curriculum to your unique setting. You’re bond to discover and create something new. Each of us is shaped differently and has the ability to reach a different segment of the population. Start writing, teach your group, and then post the material for others.
We genuinely hope our curriculum will help you teach your group the evidence so they can communicate it to others, but we know you’ll likely end up modifying it for your specific needs. That’s OK, that will be the case regardless of which curriculum you choose. Use that reality as an opportunity. there are important benefits that result from the process. If you’re interested in successfully equipping your particular group as you master the material and model effective Case Making, you’re going to have to make the decision to be more than a consumer of materials. You’re going to have to engage the curriculum, modify it for your purpose and master the evidence. Our Case Making curriculum will get you started.
J. Warner Wallace is a Dateline featured Cold-Case Detective, Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, Adj. Professor of Apologetics at Biola University, author of Cold-Case Christianity, God’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith, and creator of the Case Makers Academy for kids.
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