Studying the New Testament with the "Come, Follow Me" Curriculum, with links and resources

Note: A follow-up to this post is here.

With a new two-hour Church schedule for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has also come an increased emphasis on teaching in the home.  This year's focus is on the New Testament.  I love that so many are sharing plans and ideas on social media but I think with so many resources and ideas, it might be easy to feel overwhelmed or like it's a competition.  So while I'm going to fill this post with resources and ideas, too, please remember that the core of it is simply to be with your family, talking about the gospel more.  The only wrong way to do this is to do nothing.  If you were already consistent with your Family Home Evenings, do this for the lesson.  If you want to do it on Sundays, do that. If you want to replace some of your family scripture study with the weekly scripture block, do that. Don't feel a need to overcomplicate things!

Also, remember that your family is unique and different.  What might work for a family of all teenagers is definitely not going to work with a family of preschoolers.  You know your family best and are uniquely positioned to decide how to be successful at this.

FAMILY STUDY

My own family has a unique situation in that we have so many different ages, with ten children at home ages 18 down to 14 months.  My older kids are definitely in need of a deeper study approach than my youngest ones.

We had our first family study meeting last Sunday. We have decided to meet from 10 to 10:45 each Sunday morning.  Having a set end time is important for us because often our morning scripture study feels rushed because everyone is anxious to go get ready for school.  We have set the expectation that we will study until 10:45 and that is that.

I will be in charge of leading the discussion every week for now and I'm trying to approach my own study with the depth I gave being gospel doctrine teacher, not so I can share everything I learn, but just for my own personal development.  

We meet around the kitchen table.  I have prepared a box with a little study journal for each child to take notes in each week, some pens, colored pencils, and the schedule.  

I was so impressed with how well everything went last week. I started with talking about the parable of the sower in language Cami (age 6) could understand, then we invited Cami and Benji (age 3.5) to color a picture of the parable on the homework table in our kitchen while the rest of us dove into the lesson (Gideon was taking a nap). It was great!  We had lots of good answers to thoughtful questions and great insights shared.  Everyone participated and the Spirit was strong as we discussed the various principles involved. We didn't read every scripture in the manual but we weren't trying to. I'd read it all in advance and had marked out the important parts I thought we should discuss. At the end, we had Benji and Cami show us the pictures they colored and Cami summarized what she learned: "If you plant your seed in good ground and it's not too close to the sun and thorns don't come, it will grow." Exactly. :)

Benji and Cami sharing about the parable of the sower

I plan to follow a similar format each week, giving a short lesson in words the younger ones can understand and then having them color while we study more in depth.  We also had each of the kids share what their favorite thought or scripture was from our discussion and that was really insightful.

I printed up a reading chart with the scripture block each week, the matching chapters in the New Testament reader for children, and a place for each of our kids to mark off when they have read it.  I plan on giving out a chocolate kiss each week to those who have completed it, and I think our study will go better if the kids have read the sections on their own.  I am going to try to read the relevant chapters from the New Testament reader to my kids sometime during the week.

If you'd like to adapt my reading schedule for your family, I have placed it in a Dropbox folder.  I also have all the coloring pages from the Primary manual in this Dropbox folder.


INDIVIDUAL STUDY

It's been so fun to dive into the New Testament.  One of my goals for the year, in addition to continuing my study of the Book of Mormon in Portuguese, is to study something from or about the New Testament daily.  I have a lot of great books I've bought and there are a ton of good resources online as well.  There's always going to be more to study than I can fit in, but it's also inspiring to have so many resources.


Curriculum 

The curriculum itself is excellent!  Before you go to the lesson outline and ideas, it suggests to always read the scripture block first and write down your impressions.  I think this is so important -- as interesting and exciting as all the other study helps are, they shouldn't replace reading the scriptures themselves!  


Come, Follow Me for Primary  If you have young kids, this will be so helpful!  Each week has a coloring or activity page.

Videos

The Church has their videos indexed by week!  Cool!


The video below relates to this week's lesson and it is awesome.  I am going to show it this Sunday as part of our study.


Check out his channel for other Bible-related videos.


Books

First, here are the books I bought to aid my study.  Keep in mind that I am a devourer of books, so this is definitely overkill.  I am putting them in order of which I think I will use the most. 




The New Testament Study Guide:  Start to Finish with Thomas Valletta as the main editor.  This has the complete KJV text in the center columns with commentary in the margins.  There's plenty of room for my own notes too.  I've loved that the commentary has a lot of variety: notes on culture, quotes and insights from modern prophets, discussions on how certain words were translated, and also thoughtful questions about how to apply the scriptures today and in our own lives.  This is the book I plan to read, mark, and bring to the table on Sunday mornings.  
The inside of the New Testament Study Guide




Women in the New Testament by Camille Fronk Olson.  LOVE this one and have had it for years.


Walking with the Women of the New Testament by Heather Ferrell.  Another excellent one that I've had for a while.  




Thomas Wayment's translation of the Bible for Latter-Day Saints.  This one is back-ordered so I don't have it yet, but I've heard great things about it.


A NRSV translation of the Bible.  I think these translations will really help me understand Paul better.  :)


Of course, there are many more books you could read and consider buying and some of the links below will give other suggestions.  One of my absolute favorites from my study last year was Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes.  It points out how our culture influences our readings and underlying assumptions in ways that we don't even recognize.   

Websites

General Advice for New Testament Study

Ben Spackman has a great list of books, articles, and ideas to aid your study. Some of his suggestions are why I bought the books I did.

Organized by Each Week's Lesson

All of these are excellent resources and many of them are arranged with links to articles, videos, and podcasts that go with each week's course of study.

BYU Studies




Sugar Doodle has a lot of free resources that people share with one another, and it looks like they are adding each week's lesson as it comes.

Come Follow Me FHE has ideas for family home evening activities


*****


I plan on updating this page with more links as I come across them through the year.  What have you found helpful?  How are you implementing this curriculum?

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