I’m working hard to review all the sessions and breakouts of the Orange Conference (back in April). This week, I want to review the content and experience of the “Implementing the XP3 Curriculum” session. Even though I’ve been using XP3 for a few years now, I still learned a bunch from the Jeremy and Jared comedy duo. Then, what made it unique for me, was that I got to be a part of a panel with three other youth guys to talk about implementation and questions people may have. [Yeah, my photographer friend didn't get pics of Jeremy and Jared. But, let's be real, my camera would have exploded with wonder, discover, and passion upon seeing them.]
My experience with the XP3 curriculum has been strong. As much as my pride causes me to sometimes think that we should “be doing our own stuff,” I’ve begun to really see the XP3 team as partners with Scott and me in developing our large group and small group communication.
The three main dealios for XP3 fall in line with the rest of the reThink (Orange) curriculum. At this stage, we’re really looking to:
- Incite WONDER (at our awesome God)
- Provoke DISCOVERY (about who these kids are in Christ)
- Fuel PASSION (for others)
One of the key things I was reminded of in this session is that oftentimes, we rip the wonder right out of youth ministry because we spoon-feed the “right answers” to every question before our students can wrestle with the ideas. What ends up happening is kind of like a “wonder atrophy” because God is pretty much this manageable God who can be explained away and placed in a really small box. That’s not the God of the Bible! It’s important for youth workers to allow kids to think, allow them to worship– making God big in their lives.
The self-discovery (what does it look like to follow Jesus) is really ramped up in elementary with the 252 Basics and the 36 virtues, but I really feel like that discovery happens best for teenagers in the midst of our kids having their passion fueled for reaching people beyond the walls of the church.
I like the XP3 curriculum because it helps me leave kids asking questions, helps kids to further identify themselves as sons and daughters of God, and pushes them outside the holy huddle.
One of the things that I’ve always loved is that XP3 protects me from my blind spots. There are certain places of passion that I’m probably always going to land (making wise decisions, the Gospel, etc.), but there are also places that I may neglect if not careful (prayer, caring for “the least of these,” etc.). Knowing that XP3 is hitting all the relevant areas for this age group is key for me.
I love the way that the curriculum is designed to make the small group leader the “hero.” They finish the message. A lot of times, the speaker is supposed to leave a thought hanging so that the group can hash out the conclusion. It may seem messier, but it actually works better for ownership of an idea.
Another distinctive of XP3 is the “XP,” or experience. Each series has something that goes beyond information transfer. For example, I’m in a series right now about dating, “Dating by Numbers.” The XP for this series is that each student find a couple that they respect and interview them, asking questions about how they got together, what’s important, etc. Here’s what I’m banking on. No matter how great I am in my sermons, they may not remember anything by the end of the summer– but I’m banking on them remembering the time that they took to talk to someone they respected about their real life dating relationship. If you’re not doing the XP, you’re really not even doing the XP3 curriculum because that experience is so vital.
What makes the XP3 curriculum “orange” though (the Church partnering with the family) is the Parent Cue. The youth ministry team gets the opportunity to give parents a heads up on what’s going on; but, beyond that, a “cue” or conversation-starter based on what they’re learning at youth. This is a vital piece of the how-do-I-disciple-my-kids-now-that-I-don’t-tuck-them-in-at-night puzzle. This also helps to avoid a “dry cleaner” mentality amongst parents, “Hey, I’m just dropping my kids off with you. You clean ‘em up.” This helps start and maintain that conversation and partnership between the youth team and parents.
* At the end of the session, I got to go up with some fell0w youth guys and talk about my experience. It was cool. A nice lady in the crowd took pictures of me “for my mom.” He he he… I would just say that I would love to talk to anyone about implementation of the XP3 curriculum just like I did on that day. I certainly don’t need a mic in front of my face to talk about something I’m so passionate about. I also realized that I wished I was sitting down for 3/4 of that time because I would have loved to have recorded Lance, Michael, and Justin’s great ideas in my trusty orange notepad! Anyway, thanks for inviting me to be a part of it, Jeremy.