Resources for churches to teach children about human sexuality

At a time when children are bombarded with visual images, song lyrics, commercials and actual life experiences where sexuality is not viewed as a gift from God, we as United Methodists should be proud of our denomination. For decades now, the UMC has had a faith-based human sexuality curriculum, and updates it regularly to address the needs of today’s children.

Created by God is the United Methodist human sexuality curriculum, designed for children in 5th and 6th grades. Students, their parents and adult leaders come together for a faith-filled, comprehensive study of human sexuality—including anatomy, growth and development, reproduction and God’s call to intimacy and responsibility. 

Created by God teaches:
•I am uniquely created as God meant me to be;
•I am a good creation;
•God expects me to make responsible choices for myself, including those having to do with sexuality;
•How male and female bodies change during puberty and how reproduction occurs.

Course structure
Created by God provides time for answering questions the children have about sexuality. All questions and discussion are within a context of respect for one another and the faith that sexuality is one of God’s good gifts. As with any gift, we are commissioned to be stewards of that which has been received. Created by God seminars take 11 hours of contact time. Most often, sessions are held on Friday nights from 6 to 9 p.m. and Saturdays beginning at 9 a.m., with parents returning at 5 p.m. for a closing session with their children. Large group presentation, small group discussion and review as well as frequent question-and-answer sessions fill the time spent together.

Each seminar begins with group-building and after a comfort level is achieved, values and choices are addressed. For this reason, families must make a commitment to attend all of the sessions.

In addition, a parent orientation is required before a child participates in the seminar. At this time parents will receive an overview of the material, combined with the denomination’s approach and reasons for concern in the area of human sexuality. 

The materials, which include a Student Book, Parent Guide and the Leaders’ CD-ROM are available for purchase from www.cokesbury.com. Anyone may teach the seminar using the Leaders’ Guide as long as they lead it only within their own congregation. Many churches offer this opportunity, finding that parents, teachers, social workers and persons with medical backgrounds are all great resources to use from within. 

Certified instructors an option
However, for a variety of reasons, such as lack of time for planning and gathering materials or feeling less than comfortable with the subject matter, churches may wish to contact one of the Arkansans currently certified to teach Created by God in any congregation: 

Liz Wright, director of family ministries at St. Paul UMC Little Rock, has been certified to teach this course since 1995 (MizLiz-1@sbcglobal.net). 

Karen Anderson, director of children’s ministries at Central UMC Rogers, completed her certification in the fall of 2013 (kanderson@cumcrogers.com).

In addition to traveling to churches in Arkansas to teach Created by God, these instructors will talk with anyone who wishes to lead their own sessions if that would be helpful. United Methodist churches within Arkansas who have used certified leaders in the past include: First UMCs in Cabot, Clarksville, Hot Springs, Jacksonville, Little Rock and Springdale, Goddard UMC Fort Smith, Piney Grove UMC Hot Springs, Pulaski Heights UMC Little Rock and St. James UMC Little Rock.

Though not a certified instructor, Pam Lentz, director of children’s ministries at First UMC Conway (plentz@conwayfumc.org), has led Created by God for that congregation since the 1990s. She provides guidance for others interested in offering the seminar in their own congregations, and can serve as a resource for churches beginning to plan.

For more information about Created by God, including a list of frequently asked questions, visit http://kidz.arumc.org/curriculum/created-by-god.