LifeMosaicAs you know, the Narrative Lectionary follows a school calendar as well as a liturgical one. We spend the Fall semester in the Hebrew Scripture and the Spring semester in a Gospel. I chose to preach the Narrative Lectionary because I want to connect my congregation with the Biblical stories. And I would love for them to go deeper in the texts than just our worship hour. So I approached the Life Mosaic curriculum with great hope.

But the opening words of it left me scrambling for identifiers: For what age was this curriculum created? Without any note on the sample, I assumed this text was for adults, but the activities reminded me of youth groups. What’s the theological underpinning of the text? The guide definitely has some markers of conservative theology (which is not my background). What’s the education level of the learners? The lesson was simple… way too simple for members, a large percentage of whom have post-graduate degrees.

For instance:

“Does Yahweh keep [humans in creation] under a tight rein or give them freedom to use creation as their own possession?”

This text asks questions as if there are only two possibilities. God’s complete control or our selfishness. It is possible that God’s good creation was created for us to partner with God, rather than only for God.

“Adam and Eve were not free to set their own agenda or ‘actualize’ themselves.”

Weren’t they? Couldn’t it have been that the Tree of Good and Evil is actualization itself? Isn’t it the opportunity for choice?

“The serpent asked a question that demoted God and his command to objects for discussion. Eve joined in this strange new discourse, setting in motion a downward train of events… The cost of such conversations is the loss of God’s friendship.”

As far as I can tell, God’s friendship never went away—following all the patriarchs and matriarchs of the Hebrew Bible through to Jesus’ friendship with the disciples, and God’s friendship with the early church and even to today.

As to the activity portion of the lesson, I think it may work for a high school class, but I cannot imagine an adult group enjoying things like “Have someone in your group act as an attorney for Adam and Eve,” or “Designate someone in your group as a news reporter and someone else as the serpent from Genesis.”

Finally, the application even seemed shaky to me. The lesson likens the Fall to someone making a “selfish choice,” which seems trite and quite the oversimplication. I want more. Deeper. More theologically dense.

I want a curriculum for the Narrative Lectionary, but I’ll be waiting for the 2.0 version of it.

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Rev. Lia Scholl is not-that-kind-of-Baptist preacher and pastor in Winston-Salem, North Carolina (U.S.) and is the author of I Heart Sex Workers (Chalice Press, 2013).

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4 thoughts on “Narrative Lectionary Curriculum: Life Mosaic, a Review

  1. This is VERY helpful. I’ve been thinking of switching to Narrative Lectionary in September, but the lack of educational resources to go with has kept me from doing that just yet. When I read the title of this blog I felt hopeful. After reading your review I know…. not yet. The quotes from the curriculum above tell me this is not the one. Thank you for this information!

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    1. I downloaded that one–it had some good stuff, but also included some incredibly dumb, (imho) group activities–like the dreadful game where you tape a name to everyone’s back and have each member ask questions of a partner until they can guess which name they’ve been taped with. Gaaaah!!! That was enough to put me off right there.

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  2. Thank you for taking the time to check out and review LifeMosaic! As one of the editors of LifeMosaic, I wanted to address some of your questions about the series and provide context to the development process.

    Our goal with LifeMosaic was specifically to engage a younger generation of users through a wide variety of learning styles. In consultation with theologians and Bible teachers, we are incorporating learning activities suggested by Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences in addition to more traditional discussions, so that different people have the opportunity to learn in ways suited to them. In many of the churches where our curriculum is used, post-graduate degrees would not be as common.

    Warner Press has traditionally offered adult curriculum that follows the Uniform Series. It is structured more for learners who prefer a lecture- or reading-style Bible study, with discussion questions and paper/pencil responses as the primary mode of interaction. We have found the constituency of those Bible study classes that prefer and use this curriculum to be increasing in age, and the number of these classes to be decreasing.

    We believe LifeMosaic can provide a stepping stone to engage with younger followers of Christ who may not know as much about broader biblical themes. Those who are looking for deeper theological discussions may find that LifeMosaic is not the best avenue for their group.

    We also created a great resource to supplement the LifeMosaic book: mylifemosaic.org/resources.html This page links directly to commentaries, videos, additional resources, and daily readings that follow the Narrative Lectionary. We envision this page being referenced by small group attendees daily and hope to see more people reading the Bible and understanding the overarching story of God’s love, redemption, and salvation.

    I would personally like to encourage churches to try LifeMosaic in just one small group or Sunday school class. And I would love to hear your feedback! We want to continue to improve LifeMosaic and have it be a resources churches and groups will enjoy using.

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