Did you know that there are usually over 40 contributors to every XP3 series?! FORTY HUMANS! Do you want to know who the most important contributor is out of all 40+?
Well, it’s the 41st. YOU!
Even though a team of 40+ spend over 400 hours putting together one XP3 series, the most important contributor is YOU. The ministry leader who knows your church, community, and students better than we do! That’s why no XP3 series is finished until you have a chance to contextualize it.
“Contextualize” is just a way to say customize it. To change any and everything within the curriculum to make it the most effective possible to help your students develop a resilient faith of their own.
But for this blog, we wanted to get really specific with contextualizing one aspect of XP3 Middle School & XP3 High School: the teaching time.
Every week of an XP3 series comes with an outline and full teaching script for your message. Whether you choose the outline or script, there are several ways to contextualize it to your own ministry setting! Check out these tips for contextualizing your teaching scripts.
Tip 1: Tweak the script for your faith tradition and phase of your students.
Sometimes we hear from ministry leaders that they wish the script went a little deeper each week. Good news! The intention is that you ask yourself, “What do I need to adjust to make sure this content reflects our theology/tradition?”
That is one reason we often don’t write gospel presentations, baptism details, communion experiences, or other important faith experiences that can often vary based on church, tradition, and background. We’re absolutely relying on you to know the best times and ways to walk through those important pieces with your students.
It’s also wise to consider the phase of the students in your ministry. The more we understand the student’s phase, the better we’ll be able to deliver the content in a way that makes sense. Maybe the most important question to ask yourself as you contextualize each week of content is “What do I need to adjust to make the content the most helpful for faith development of the phase I’m speaking to?”
So, as you look through the script, feel free to add supporting Scripture, additional context, and any connection points to your tradition as needed. Just be sure what you add isn’t just interesting to you (as an adult), but is helpful in the faith development of the students.
Looking to learn more about what the middle school & high school phases & how to best connect with them in the midst of it? Good news. We’ve got something that can help!
Tip 2: Contextualize the introduction by adding a personal story.
We’ve included stories, but you’ll want to include your own! Maybe you even want to go in a totally different direction in the introduction than we recommend. THAT’S OKAY!
The focus of the introduction is to grab their attention by talking about the theme of the message through a personal or relatable experience.
Tip 3: Spend the right amount of time in the tension.
The tension moves the message from the “me” mentality of the introduction to a “we” mentality. For example, a transition statement might be, “At some point in our lives, we have all been jealous of someone.”
Too much time in the tension can be depressing and even overwhelming. Yet, too little time can leave students feeling disconnected or disengaged from your entire message. A good tension helps students feel seen and known as though the message was written just for them.
The focus of the tension is to help them recognize that what you’re talking about is something that they can not only relate to, but they can benefit from.
Tip 4: Make sure you connect the dots in the truth section.
How does God, Jesus, or a collection of books written over 2,000 years ago connect to my life today?
Something we say around here is, “Truth only matters when it matters.”
Unless it’s a Marvel movie, I don’t bother watching the credits in a movie. It just doesn’t matter much to me, even though it’s true . . . all those people did help make that movie happen. But when I watch a movie with my brother who is in the movie business, we tend to watch the credits. Not just because they’re ‘true,’ but because they matter.
So, in the truth section, be sure to help them connect the dots between what we believe the Bible says is true each week and why it matters in their lives.
The focus of the truth section is to help your students understand what God says about the theme of that week.
Tip 5: Unpack how God’s truth relates to each student during application.
Discipleship isn’t just about INformation, but it’s also about TRANSformation. We don’t want to only tell students about God’s truth, we want to help them understand what it means for how they live their lives now.
This one can be tricky because you want to get practical. But you also don’t want to answer all of their questions before they head to small group. If you find yourself spending too much time teaching the application section, you may be robbing your small group leaders of the tension needed for a good small group time.
The focus of the application section is to introduce some practical ways to help students understand how the truth of the week can impact their daily lives.
Tip 6: Remind students of the Bottom Line during the landing.
Here it is important to land the message quickly on what each student needs to know and do with what they’ve heard. This is a great time to remind them of the weekly bottom line.
Just as the message began with a personal story or observation, the message also ends with a “me” mentality. For example, one possible landing statement might be, “I have a greater sense of purpose knowing that God created me in His image.”
The focus of the landing is to remind them of the bottom line, connect it to your life & send them to small groups to process.
Our team wants to do everything we can do to free you up to do what only you can do. You are the one who knows your students, your faith tradition, and your context best. That’s why we create each and every series with the hope that, while we work REALLY hard on making XP3 the best it can be, we’re handing you an incomplete series. It’s not ready for your students until our most important contributor – YOU – makes it as helpful as possible for their students.
So, thank you for doing what you are doing to influence the faith of the next generation. We’re grateful we get to play a small part in it!