Nearly every summer while I was growing up, my family would load up the station wagon and head to family camp in Genoa, Neb. During a particular week when my three brothers and I were all around 12, we took the camp’s four BB guns and trotted into the forest for a shooting spree. Our great anticipation at firing at everything in sight eventually turned to boredom. Blowing apart pinecones at point-blank range soon became a been-there-done-that activity, and there wasn’t much else to shoot in a tree-dominated forest.

So we wandered through the woods with guns in tow looking for a new target. When we came across the home of the camp’s caretaker, we drew a bead on the white natural gas tank next to his house. We reveled in the chance to shoot something other than a tree; and the tank, unlike the pinecones, was big enough to hit from a distance. Soon the forest was ringing with the chorus of pings that came from the BBs ricocheting off the tank’s metal shell. We were having fun again. We had found an easy and noisy target!

Later that day my dad called my brothers and me together and confiscated our guns. Apparently the caretaker was home while we were shooting at his tank. My dad lectured us about firing guns toward someone’s residence. He told us that our target of choice, though fun to shoot at, was not an acceptable mark. He then imparted to us his wisdom about what makes a target acceptable.

Teachers, like BB-gun-wielding boys, need appropriate, well-defined targets. Teaching with no targets or with the wrong targets wastes a valuable opportunity to impact students.

Jesus is the master teacher. He created teaching. And we can learn His teaching aims from studying His encounters with His students. His teaching aims should form the basis for Sunday School curriculum that intends to lead students to spiritual maturity. Curriculum based on Jesus’ teaching aims becomes curriculum that is on target.

Jesus focused on seven targets during His three years of earthly ministry.

Seven Targets

Believe the gospel. Jesus repeatedly taught intending for His audience to understand and believe the gospel. John 4:5–42 is one example. Jesus presented the gospel message to a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well and to those she brought with her to see Jesus. His aim was met when “many . . . believed” (v. 41).

Sunday School curriculum that adopts this aim will include clear, complete, and age-appropriate presentations of the gospel. Curriculum based on this aim will also teach students how to present the gospel to the lost.

Understand Biblical ethics. Jesus wanted His learners to have a sense of right and wrong. In His Sermon on the Mount, He taught His followers moral values that were to guide them in decision making (Matthew 5:20–48).

Today’s culture dismisses the need for moral values and instead teaches the relativity of truth. This cultural climate makes teaching Biblical ethics even more pressing. Curriculum with this aim in mind doesn’t assume students are living according to Biblical ethics. Rather, it makes a point to emphasize the need to understand and live according to God’s standards.

Internalize godliness. The Pharisees were outwardly religious but inwardly corrupt. Jesus’ teaching aim of internalizing godliness was radically different from the teaching of the Pharisees. Jesus taught His followers to be godly on the inside (Matthew 6:1–18; 15:1–9). The Pharisees were concerned only about appearing religious.

Everyone has a tendency to live like a Pharisee. We all understand the pull to pretend to be good. Curriculum that focuses on helping students internalize godliness will include the truths about Christ in us, the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and our need to develop spiritual disciplines.

Learn doctrine. Wishy-washy doctrine leads to faulty practice. Jesus knew the importance of teaching His students the truth. John 14 is one example of Jesus teaching doctrine as a basis for practice. Paul listed doctrine as one of the benefits of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16). He then identified doctrine as one of the means for Christian growth (3:17).

Curriculum that meets this aim will not shy away from teaching doctrine. Developing doctrinal convictions in the lives of students is essential. Doctrine gives them a framework for understanding Scripture correctly and for defending their faith confidently.

Develop life skills. Jesus wanted His disciples to meet life’s challenges in a way that honored and glorified God. John 6:1–21 provides two examples of Jesus preparing His followers to meet life’s challenges. Surely His disciples thought back to their Master’s lessons numerous times as they sought to live out God’s will for their lives.

Curriculum built on this aim will relate truth to life. The curriculum should prepare students to meet life’s challenges with confidence and trust in a God Who works all things for good. Students should learn through the curriculum to turn to God in all of life’s circumstances.

Uplift others. Jesus’ life was all about others, even to the point of His death (Matthew 20:28). Jesus taught His followers to be all about others too. In fact, the second greatest commandment—love your neighbor as yourself—underscores the importance God placed on recognizing and caring for the needs of others (Matthew 22:37–40). Christ said that believers’ love for one another would be the evidence of their faith (John 13:34, 35).

Loving self is the rhythm by which all people will naturally live. To recognize and meet the needs of others is unnatural. Sunday School curriculum must challenge students to take their eyes off themselves and focus on others.

Prepare to serve. In a sense, the entire three years that the disciples spent with Jesus were their internship on servanthood. Jesus was preparing them to serve in the context of local churches that were established soon after His ascension. On one occasion Jesus vividly taught the disciples about serving others when He donned a towel and washed their feet (John 13:1–17). The intentionality in Jesus’ teaching is seen in verse 15. Jesus said, “For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.”

Passages like Ephesians 4:1–16 reinforce Christ’s teaching aim. The apostle Paul made it clear that serving God in the context of the local church isn’t just a suggestion or good idea; it is a vital part of God’s plan for today. Sunday School curriculum should prepare students to serve in their local churches.

Regular Baptist Press Sunday School curriculum is curriculum that is on target. Teaching with Jesus’ aims will produce students who are built up in Christ and established in the faith (Colossians 2:6, 7). The students will have a worldview that sees God as their creator, Christ as their Redeemer, and themselves as Christ’s light in the world around them.

I teach RBP curriculum and am glad to have all three of my children taking part in Sunday School classes using the curriculum. As a parent, I value knowing that my children are learning truths that align with the aims that Christ determined were important for believers. RBP Sunday School curriculum is balanced and comprehensive. I know firsthand, as a teacher and a parent, that it works.

Using RBP Sunday School curriculum will give you confidence, too, that your students are learning what Christ desires for them to learn. The curriculum will help your church do its part to raise a generation of believers who are spiritually mature and ready and willing to serve the Lord.

Curriculum That’s on Target

Regular Baptist Press Sunday School curriculum is curriculum that is on target. The shapers of the curriculum intentionally followed Jesus’ instructive example. They planned the curriculum with His desires in mind. Consider how each department of children’s curriculum will help you fulfill Christ’s aims in your church.

Planting Faith for 2s & 3s teaches Biblical truth concerning God, God’s Son, God’s Word, and God’s world. The students learn that God is their creator and that He loves and helps them. They begin to understand what sin is and that Jesus came to earth as a baby and then grew up and died for them. This two-year curriculum prepares 2s and 3s to understand the gospel.

Planting Faith for Pre-Primaries reinforces foundational Biblical truths concerning creation, Jesus, salvation, and living for God. This two-year curriculum recognizes that Pre-Primaries are starting to understand the need for personal salvation and provides opportunities for the students to trust in Christ as their Savior and then begin to live for Him.

God’s Explorers for Primaries is a two-year curriculum that spends a quarter on each of the seven aims, with a special emphasis in an eighth quarter on worship and prayer. Primary students are introduced to the basics of maturity in Christ on an age-appropriate level. The Primary curriculum provides an excellent opportunity for children to trust in Christ as their Savior and then to begin to grow as new believers.

Truth Travelers for Middlers is a two-year through-the-Bible curriculum. Middler students travel through God’s Word starting with the account of creation in the first quarter and ending with God’s plan for the future in the eighth quarter. The Middler curriculum puts the Biblical pieces together for the students and helps them understand God’s overall plan for redemption.

Faith Detectives for Juniors is a two-year curriculum that spends a quarter on each of Jesus’ aims, with an additional quarter reinforcing truths about worship and prayer. The Junior curriculum is an age-appropriate discipleship course that encourages students to live out their faith. Students learn to study and respond to God’s Word as they complete weekly devotionals called Bible Investigation Files. Faith Detectives forms a valuable opportunity for students to learn to live like Christ.

Alex Bauman is the director of Regular Baptist Press.