What's Up? Discovering the Gospel, Jesus, and Who You Really Are
by Deborah Harrell and Jack Klumpenhower
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Have you ever asked a middle-school kid you know what’s up with “the gospel”? Can they explain what it is and why it matters to a kid? Or do they suspect that being good, listening to parents, and obeying rules is ultimately what God expects?
What’s Up is a flexible middle-school curriculum workbook using illustrations, stories, and interactive activities to help kids understand why the gospel really is good news. What’s Up answers the real questions of identity and purpose that begin to unfold in middle-school hearts and minds. Revealing God’s love, forgiveness, and power to change, What’s Up helps fourth through eighth-grade students understand that the gospel is all about God making us into who he meant us to be all along. As they learn how to lean wholly (and happily) on Jesus through these formative years, their lives are changed from the inside out.
The curriculum guides middle-school age students in discovering Jesus through fifteen 90-minute lessons that can be expanded to cover twenty-six weeks. The student guide offers age-appropriate activities, fun illustrations, questions to think about, and personal application activities for home. Teachers will find easy-to understand instructions and notes, helps and directions to make teaching the gospel to children clear and simple in the corresponding teacher guide. What’s Up is easily adapted to a wide variety of group settings, including Sunday school, youth group, Christian school, and homeschool. The corresponding Teacher Guide offers easy-to-understand instructions and notes, helps, and directions to make teaching the gospel to children clear and simple. Requires little work outside of the classroom or teaching setting.
Deborah Harrell is the Overseas Educational Advisor for Serge, with a degree in Child Development and Family Relations from the University of Arizona. Deborah is the author of the award-winning children's novel, Pinto’s Hope, and contributing author of numerous articles in professional journals. She is also the coauthor of The Gospel-Centered Parent, What's Up? Discovering the Gospel, Jesus, and Who You Really Are, and What's Up? Elementary: Learning about God and Yourself. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, Jason, and daughter, Sarah.
Jack Klumpenhower, the son of a missionary pastor, is a television news writer by trade but a Bible teacher by passion. Married with two children, Jack is a freelance writer living in beautiful Durango, Colorado.
"Words can't express how thankful I am for this curriculum. As a former middle school Bible teacher, I know how impossible it is to find truly gospel-centered material presented in a format that young people can process . . . and will find interesting at the same time. In a church youth culture awash with moralistic messages and frilly silliness, What's Up? sets the standard of good news written for young minds. Seriously . . . I can't recommend it too highly."
Elyse Fitzpatrick, Author of Good News for Weary Women and coauthor of Give Them Grace
"What an amazing gift What's Up? is going to be for middle-school and junior-high ministry and for parents of fifth- through eighth-graders. Debbie Harrell and Jack Klumpenhower have done an outstanding job of contextualizing the gospel of God's grace for kids in one of the most vulnerable and formative seasons of life. I get excited just thinking about how this curriculum, in the hands of grace-loving leaders, will help disciple a new generation of gospel-equipped, Jesus-loving students. And let me add, the teachers are going to benefit just as much as the students. Great job, Debbie and Jack. More, more, more!"
Dr. Scotty Ward Smith, Founding Pastor of Christ Community Church; Teacher in Residence at West End Community Church; author of Everyday Prayers: 365 Days to a Gospel-Centered Faith
"Have you ever wondered how you could explain the great truths of the gospel to your children? What's Up? takes you step by step with solid teaching, thoughtful questions, insights, and practical application—always leading you to Christ. It is a must-read for parents and for teachers, young and old."
Rose Marie Miller, Author of From Fear to Freedom and Nothing Is Impossible with God
"If you read Jack Klumpenhower's book, Show Them Jesus, but didn't think you could teach as well as Jack does—don't worry. The What's Up? curriculum and teacher's guide give you everything you need to teach your middle school students the same amazing gospel lessons Jack presented in his book. You'll have parents thanking you for the amazing way their kids are learning deep gospel truths like justification, adoption, how to recognize false repentance, and how to offer true forgiveness. It doesn't matter what curriculum you are currently using with your middle school, put it on hold and get your kids through this material—that is what I am going to do at my church."
Marty Machowski, Family Life Pastor and author of Long Story Short and Old Story New, The Gospel Story Bible, the Gospel Story for Kids curriculum and Prepare Him Room
"Preteens can be critics. It's just part of how we grow at that age. Deborah and Jack know the best way to fight a critical spirit—a clear vision of Jesus, an honest assessment of our hearts, and a faithful commitment to working out the implications of the gospel in our relationships. What's Up? is a clear and engaging tool for applying these truths to middle school kids."
Jared Kennedy, Pastor of Families, Sojourn Community Church', Louisville, KY
"I love this study! Deborah Harrell and Jack Klumpenhower have done a fine job at communicating gospel-saturated truth for students and have given teachers a reliable and easy-to-use guide. What's Up? is a helpful tool to faithfully plant and water the gospel of Jesus Christ in the hearts of students. If you are looking for a biblical, Christ-centered, and holistic study for teenagers, look no further!"
Brian H. Cosby, Author of Giving Up Gimmicks: Reclaiming Youth Ministry from an Entertainment Culture and Rebels Rescued: A Student's Guide to Reformed Theology; pastor and visiting professor at Reformed Theological Seminary
"Congratulations to Deborah and Jack for taking on the most challenging group of all—our kids. In What's Up? they attempt to teach young people both the gospel and how to live out of the gospel. Why wait until we get locked into a pattern of performing or pretending? Why not be discipled in the gospel from the beginning? That is what these creative and engaging lessons do and do well."
Stephen Smallman, Assistant Pastor, New Life Presbyterian Church, Glenside, PA; author of The Walk: Steps for New and Renewed Followers of Jesus
"Harrell and Klumpenhower's What's Up? middle school curriculum beautifully lives up to its subtitle: Discovering the Gospel, Jesus, and Who You REALLY Are. I love its thoroughness, flexibility, and teaching style. More importantly, its model of student discipleship (believe—don't just try harder) coupled with the practical 'make-it-stick' section packs a powerful gospel-driven one-two punch. It should be required curriculum for all youth ministries!"
John C. Kwasny, Director, One Story Ministries
"What's Up? is a curriculum that will challenge both students and teachers to delve deep into the definition, meaning, and significance of Christianity. It encourages students to look squarely into their hearts and discover whether or not they are truly living for themselves or for their Creator."
Susan Wall, Children's Ministry Curriculum Coordinator, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington, DC