This curriculum review is part of the Children's Ministry Toolkit - a collection of resources for building strong and vibrant children's ministry, brought to you by Faith Formation Ministries.
D6 describes itself as a family-aligned curriculum based on the principles of Deuteronomy 6:5-9: love God, love his Word, and teach your children to do the same. In an effort to connect the church and home, D6 aligns small group environments at church so that the entire family is studying the same theme at the same time. D6 is published by Randall House, which is operated by the National Association of Free Will Baptists.
While the D6 desire to support the church in equipping parents to disciple kids at home is commendable, the structure and content of D6 make it a curriculum to avoid. Here’s why:
Scope and Sequence
A strong scope and sequence nurtures faith by including a broad span of Old and New Testament stories and builds upon what’s being learned by repeating and adding to the stories as children age their way through the curriculum. To get everyone on the same story at the same time, D6’s scope and sequence is focused on adults, not children. The result: an organizational structure featuring alternating three-month cycles on the Old Testament, the New Testament, and Special Topics, throughout which there are huge gaps in learning for children.
Check out these examples of what children through adults (with the exception of preschoolers, for whom there is a variation of each topic) studied using D6 in 2016-2018:
Fall of 2016
- Christian Conduct (passages from James)
- Leadership (stories from Exodus)
- Spiritual Warfare (Isaiah, Colossians, Hebrews, Revelation, and more).
- Faith (stories from Joshua)
- Authority (Easter-themed stories from Matthew)
- Biblical Sexuality (passages from Corinthians, Philippians, Genesis, Matthew, Romans)
Winter 2018 (passage selections not yet available at the time of this review)
- Wisdom from Proverbs
- Gender and Sexuality
Imagine plunging a six-year-old child into a three-month study of James and Exodus and conversations on “spiritual warfare” without the foundation of covenant stories and the assurance of God’s unfailing love. Consider how disjointed the learning is for children when leaps are made by jumping from Proverbs to Romans without first forming a context of God’s plan for redemption.
A curriculum plan in which all ages are studying the same passages at the same time should be built upon a child’s scope and sequence, adding depth and breadth to the study material to meet the developmental needs of older learners; the D6 framework takes a reverse approach and all ages miss out a rich foundation of God’s stories as a result.
Living Into God’s Story
The content of D6 sessions is equally problematic. In each session we previewed, God’s story was told at children, not with them. Children weren’t invited to wonder or to reflect on God’s story and their place in it. There were no opportunities for children to respond to God’s story using their own words. We didn’t see any space provided for children to pray in their own words or with the leader. There was zero space built into the session for authentic, relationship-building conversations between leaders and learners.
Faith Nurture at Home
Although D6 offers a wide range of resources to use at home, the pieces feature the same questionable content as the sessions used at church, so what’s being reinforced at home is equally problematic.
For example, in “Do You Have Faith?” an activity from Splink (D6 family magazine, September 11, 2016) parents are directed to show their children the ingredients for making ice cream and to ask their children if they believe those ingredients can make ice cream. Following the making of the ice cream, parents are to say, “You showed your belief that what I said was true by shaking the bags. James 2:14-17 says we show our faith in God by believing what He has said in the Bible and then living it out—doing what He has told us to do. Works show that we have true faith!”
That approach to Scripture is reductionist--treating a small part of the truth as the entire truth and thereby resulting in a distorted truth. Trust is an important component of faith, but faith is also much broader than trust. A more thoughtful approach would include wondering about what "works" are (with young children) or what kinds of actions James may have been talking about (with older kids), sharing times we’ve had to respond in faith and to live out of our faith and times when it was difficult to do so, praying together to ask God to show us how to do God’s work, and more.
The D6 approach is to teach complex concepts to children in an overly simplistic, black-and-white way. But life is not simple, and neither is God. And if we want to nurture in our children a deeply rooted and resilient faith so that in those times when their head doubts or their heart falters, their faith remains strong (Keeley, Helping Our Children Grow in Faith, p. 61) we need to invite them into God’s story, not hand them simplified summaries of what they should believe.
Have questions? Our Children's Ministry Catalyzer would love to talk with you about faith formation in children at your church. Email [email protected]