Questions to Help Evaluate Mission Education Resources
Below is a set of practical questions to help you evaluate any mission resource in three basic areas:
Does it show that we are blessed so we should be a blessing?
Is it age-appropriate, employing effective teaching strategies?
Does it show respect for other cultures?
Too often a child's worldview goes something like this: "God loves me. God blesses me. Jesus will help me in time of trouble." In contrast, a Biblical worldview says, "God blesses me so that I may be a blessing to all of His creation." Abraham, in Genesis 12:1-3, was blessed to be a blessing. Instead of seeing the Bible as simply a collection of stories, a Biblical worldview reveals this common thread tying together the Bible from Genesis to Revelation: God's mission is to reach all people with the Good News of Jesus Christ. God brings us into partnership with Himself and then blesses us, not just for our own benefit, but so that we can bless others, both spiritually and physically.
Criteria: (Totally informational resources may not touch on these issues.)
- Does the piece spur a child to reach out and bless someone else, instead of simply basking in God's lavish blessing of wealth, health and knowledge? (Disregard this question if the resource doesn’t deal with this issue at all.)
- Does this material teach that God's plan is for every person in the whole world to benefit from the Good News of Jesus Christ regardless of geographic region, skin color, language, etc.?
- Does it teach that the responsibility of reaching the world is ours, in partnership with God? That it is not just an option for a few?
- Is salvation based on faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus alone?
- Does this resource focus on the needs of the world, not just the needs of the blessed child? (could include needs for health care, food, Bible translation, education, financial assistance, evangelism, community development projects, peace and safety, etc.)
- Does the material expose children to the spiritual and physical needs of other people, thereby seeking to build into them God's heart of compassion?
- Does this piece give children real options for putting into practice their responsibility to reach out to the world? (giving, working, praying, going projects)
- Do lessons include relevant Bible verses for study and/or memorization?
- Does the material portray missions as not just a duty, or responsibility, but as a joy? (Is blessing others with what God has given us fun, rewarding, building self-esteem, etc? Is being a channel, instead of a dead end, shown as fulfilling?)
Recommended resources are on par with, or above, the quality of public and Christian school curricula. They have adequate teacher helps and employ educationally sound teaching methods that are age appropriate. Entertainment is not enough. The focus of recommended resources is to teach in such a way that students really learn through awareness and action.
- Does this resource give the learner more than just knowledge of new facts, spurring him/her on to a change of heart and action?
- Are there appropriate activities to bridge the conceptual with the concrete?
- Is the resource age appropriate? (Reading, vocabulary, writing,
and geography skills should be commensurate with a child's skills and abilities.)
- Does the material move from the known to the unknown? (starting with a child's present knowledge [Biblical, geographical, people group, worldview] and stretching him/her to grow by increasing the level of learning one step beyond.)
- Do activities really support the main goal and objective or are they simply fun and games and craft ideas?
- Are all necessary concepts included?
- If a curriculum, are goals and objectives clearly stated and measurable?
- Does the resource teach to the whole child (know-feel-do) (mental-emotional-physical-spatial)?
- If a curriculum, are teaching methods varied, interesting and age
- Are adequate teacher helps included with background information for the novice and/or seasoned teacher?
- If a group activity, does the resource help to create a safe community for the learners in which to interact, form relationships, work out problems, grow as a group? (stressing fair play, cooperation rather than competition, forgiveness, respect for the worth and dignity of every person, not worried about peer rejection and abuse)
- Are rewards used in such a way that they create a positive learning environment? (not just competition to get the goods)
The framework of a house determines whether 1500 square feet will become a one-story ranch or a two-story townhouse. Similarly, culture is the unseen framework, which gives structure to people’s thinking and behavior. Culture shapes a person’s appearance, thinking, behavior and perception of the world. Recommended resources acknowledge the value of all peoples, despite differences we notice in other’s bodies, homes, lifestyles, dress, etc. Without compromising Biblical absolutes, these resources uphold I Peter 2:17’s command to "Honor all men."
- Would a person of the featured culture feel that his/her culture is portrayed fairly if he/she were to view this resource?
- Has multi-culturalism been presented in a way consistent with Biblical
principles? Are all people groups equally valuable?
- Do illustrations or pictures portray culture in a way that is accurate, up-to-date, and with correct physical features? (not all the same color or looking exactly alike)
- Are stereotypes avoided, that is, not perpetuated and reinforced?
- Does the author show diversity and individuality within a people group? (Different members should have a variety of personalities and appearances.)
- Has the author avoided errors, omissions, inaccuracies and artificially happy endings? Is the piece true to real life and accurate?
- Is up-to-date terminology used?
- Is cultural information presented in a manner consistent with the flow of the story, not just an extra bit added in?
- Does the resource avoid a "tourist approach?" (This reinforces stereotypes by emphasizing exotic differences between people; highlighting the unusual, the quaint, or the historical without relating customs and events to the total worldview and everyday life of the people.)
- Does the resource help learners develop the valuable skill of distinguishing between things that are simply culturally different and things that are right and wrong?