History of Main Street
In the summer of 2003, I chose 39 stories in the Torah (Genesis through Deuteronomy), 39 stories in the Writings (Joshua-Nehemiah), and 39 stories in the Gospels and Acts. These 117 Bible stories comprised the core curriculum for Hayward Wesleyan Church’s Sunday school program that we eventually called Main Street (and the curriculum, Main Street Curriculum).
I put them into a 3-year rotation:
- Year 1 :: 39 weeks in Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy
- Year 2 :: 39 weeks in Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, Ezra and Nehemiah
- Year 3 :: 39 weeks in the four Gospels and Acts
We did this curriculum for 9 years, which is three cycles through the 3-year curriculum.
You can view the overview of this curriculum here.
We decided to go a different direction on year 10 to sort of change things up because we felt like we were in a rut. We used another person’s overarching storytelling through the Bible. We loved the first year and a half, but when it got to some of the stories in Samuel and Kings, we felt like it fell short of what needed to be addressed and taught. So mid-way through last year (year 11) we switched back to the Main Street Curriculum and finished out last year with the Old Testament.
So that would put the Gospels and Acts (New Testament) in the queue for this upcoming year.
The approach I took in the past to teaching through the storyline of the Gospels is to teach through the genesis of Jesus and the surrounding narratives (John the Baptist and Jesus’ birth, presentation at the Temple, boyhood, baptism of Jesus, and temptation in the desert). These stories moved the narrative along. Then we camped out in several weeks of miracle stories, then several more weeks in teaching through some of Jesus’ parable. Then we went to the end of Jesus’ life and talked through those stories (transfiguration, triumphal entry, last supper, garden of Gethsemane, arrest, crucifixion, death, and resurrection).
I’ve been wanting to change how we approach the teaching of the Gospels in Main Street.
A New Approach to Tackling the Gospels
What is lost in teaching through what is often called a harmony of the Gospels (where the stories are all collapsed together into one mega-Gospel) is any particular voice of the author. Each Gospel writer edited and crafted their particular account of the stories of Jesus in a unique way, and when a harmony is used, we lose the voice and intent of the author. We lose and miss any particular themes that the writer wants to convey to their audience.
Last year in Youth group (both middle school and high school, 2013-2014) we spent the whole year storying through the Gospel of Mark. It was extremely fruitful learning about Jesus through the words of Mark.
So this upcoming year as we story through the New Testament we are going to work our way through the Gospel according to Luke and then the Acts of the Apostles. The beauty part of this arrangement is that Luke wrote both of these accounts. Our English Bibles separate them because they arrange the Gospels together and then place Acts afterwards. But it’s really called Luke-Acts.
We are going to do one chapter per week in Luke. And then combine chapters in Acts to make it fit into the school year’s time frame. It looks something like this.