Skip to main content

Reply to "The Rotation Model's "Dirty Little Secrets""

Thank you Sarah (PlymouthUCC) and LisaPA for responding. Sometimes it's like an echo chamber up here!



Sarah, I certainly don't disagree with some of your criticisms. Even Jesus met with problems.   


Regarding "how the Rotation model can fail" ...I've had an "unpopular" article on this subject HERE for many years.   Feel free to add to it. 




You wrote: "Curriculum writers usually have a set of core knowledge goals and concepts that they want kids to know by the end of the year." 


I wish this were true about all curriculum writers, but I've worked with and written for publishers, and their method of choosing "what to teach" isn't always as organized as you would think. I also know first-hand of at least one major denom publisher who picked its rotation stories based on what was NOT in their other curriculum, so as not to compete with their other products. (I'm talking about you Augsburg.)  Years ago one of my own denom's publishers told me they assembled their stories by "meeting in small groups and coming together with stories on post-it notes, then negotiated with the other groups."   



You raise an interesting question:


Are we supposed to be teaching Bible stories?


Are we supposed to be teaching a system of theological concepts through the careful selection of various Bible stories?    


Those teaching a set of theological concepts tend to have a checklist in mind (Forgiveness, check!  Christology, check! Inclusiveness, check!) ...and then go find stories that fit those subjects. Lots of traditional curriculum was allegedly organized this way:  Units on "Forgiveness".  Units on "Mission".   I used to think that way too.   Some did units on the Patriarchs, or found themselves teaching 2nd graders about Amos in October. (Ridiculous)


Here's where I've been at for the last 20 years: "teach the major Bible stories in some semblance of order, repeating key stories, and knowing that each story has MANY theological facets."    


Joseph's story is a great example of a story that simply needs taught, not categorized. While a curriculum publisher might list it under "forgiveness", but it's also about honesty, perseverance, God's plan for your life, and more.  Same with Exodus, same with Prodigal Son, same with Shepherds and Angels. Same with Last Supper.  Many major stories DEFY categorization.  Instead, they are rich in meaning and IF remembered, can unfold their meanings in the student's heart.




That said, a Left/Analytical/Checklist approach to story selection CAN BE HELPFUL ...when you are trying to decide WHICH major stories to teach.


YOUR suggested set of core beliefs or OUTCOMES are really great. I would add: "tell me the story that will drive those beliefs into their hearts and minds."   And then tell me TWO STORIES for each! 





I agree with you completely that one weakness of SOME Rotation churches are those with volunteers and staff who don't have a grasp of the curriculum, ...and make it up as they go.  Those folks will certainly have a hard time with any curriculum, published or free. One of the THINNEST Rotation curriculums I've ever seen is PowerXpress from Cokesbury. Go figure.  


"Dirty Secrets" is an admission that some teachers and leaders can turn ANY silk purse into a sow's ear.    This is one of the reasons we SHOULD rotate our kids, reduce the inevitable exposure to the mis-guided or ill-equipped.




Sunday School metaphor break:





re: GOOD CURRIC is certainly trying to address the need for DEPENDABLE, PEER-REVIEWED, PROFESSIONALLY EDITED Rotation curriculum.  We call them the WRITING TEAM!!


The writers on the Writing Team have theological and creative integrity. And Phyllis Wezeman our WT leader and editor has been one of the brightest names in CE curriculum publishing for many years.  30 different lesson sets and counting.


The WT doesn't prescribe what stories WE think a church should teach. That's what your teachers/pastors are for. To the extent that they don't exercise such decision making in a local congregation, I can only say....God help them, because no amount of publisher's cellophane wrapping is going to save them from themselves.



What's great is that YOU are on the job in your church paying attention to important decisions.  You could easily pick stories from the WT list that fit your KEY QUESTIONS/BELIEF statements.  

I would encourage you to POST your list of stories that you use to answer those key belief statements, so that others churches who do NOT have YOU, can benefit from you!


Let's keep the discussion going.


Last edited by Neil MacQueen Inc. is a volunteer-run, 100% member supported, 501(c)3 non-profit Sunday School lesson ministry. You are welcome to borrow and adapt content for non-commercial teaching purposes --as long as both the site and author are referenced. Inc reserves the right to manage, move, condense, delete, and otherwise improve all content posted to the site. Read our Terms of Service. is rated5 stars on Google based on 51 reviews. Serving a global community including the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, S. Africa, and more!