Saturday, July 18, 2015

Review: Prasso Ministries

My husband and I have been involved in youth ministry for over twenty years. Now with teens of our own, we deeply treasure the wonderful conversations we have discussing matters of faith. It is such a blessing to work with teens and watch them begin to embrace their own faith and develop a personal relationship with God.  We are always on the lookout for solid materials to use with our own teenaged children, as well as with our youth group and Sunday School class. I was excited about reviewing the Teen Prasso Homework Manual and Teen Prasso Teacher's Manual from Prasso Ministries.

What is Prasso Ministries? The word 'Prasso" literally means "to practice".  This ministry began over 21 years ago, with the intent of providing materials to help Christians "practice" their walk with God. Practicing something makes a person stronger and more successful. The idea is that practicing a daily Bible study will grow a stronger Christian. The material is set up for individual or group study, but there definitely is an emphasis on group discussion.  The students can work on their individual journal throughout the week, but come together for weekly group discussion.

Why Teen Prasso? Teens have more practice at being children than adults. As they explore their faith and develop their belief system, they will inevitably come up with challenging questions that must be satisfied in order for their relationship with the Lord to grow stronger. The Teen Prasso series addresses specific issues that teens in our culture face on a daily basis.

What is in the Teacher's Manual? The manual is 9"x12" and spiral bound. It contains outlines for thirteen lessons, as well as amazing teacher guidelines. There are several pages that I found invaluable as a teacher. They lay out an informative list of ideas for leading group discussion and dealing with a diverse group of student personalities. Even though I have been teaching a Sunday School class for over half my life, I found these few pages extremely concise and helpful. I definitely gleaned many good tips from them.  The outlines themselves have teaching tips, a key verse, and an outline of points to magnify from the lesson. Each lesson comes with a message goal, which is like a thesis statement that summarizes the lesson, and helps the teacher stay on track. There is an continuing story with fictional characters that are fun, interesting, and extremely relatable to teens. Each lesson builds on the story, and draws out an issue from the story for the student to focus on, and examine in their own life. The teacher's manual is 124 pages long.

What is in the Student Journal? The smaller, square shaped, spiral bound student journal is exactly what it says - a journal for the student to really own the lessons in a hands-on way, digging into their Bible study and applying the truths to their everyday life. The journal, of course, coincides with the thirteen lessons that the teacher's manual gives. Each lesson has about 15-20 pages of work for the student to do on their own. There are six days worth of probing questions and short lessons that break down the topic for that week into bite size pieces for a teen to work through. Each day's reading and question answering takes about 15 minutes. Day 1-5 are journal assignments, day 6 is a review and re-think, and then the last page contains group discussion questions.

What kind of topics are covered? The entire study covers the following themes:
  1. God, the Heavenly Father (getting to know the nature of God)
  2. God's Love
  3. The need for the Scriptures as our guiding map.
  4. Living through trials.
  5. Spiritual Warfare
  6. Maintaining a good testimony and following others who have a good testimony.
  7. Listening to God's voice.
  8. Properly dealing with anger.
  9. Learning how to forgive.
  10. Recognizing and dealing with pride in our lives.
  11. Learning how to subdue your own will.
  12. Learning the lifelong benefits of establishing a daily walk with God.
  13. Having a good judgment seat before God at the end of our life.
What do I think? As you can see, these are some heavy topics for teens, but I have always found that teens are very invested in studying and taking charge of their own walk with God, and I think these topics are excellent choices for a teen Bible study.  This material digs into areas that most teen Bible training materials ignore. I am so impressed with this material. It is well written, and very easy to follow with little outside preparation. As a teacher, I can study the lesson and feel adequately prepared to teach it, without having to do all kinds of searching for appropriate illustrations or examples. The fictional story threaded through the book is quite captivating. (I admit, I cheated, and read the entire story to the end to find out what happened!)

How have we used this? I am going through this material with Melissa, my 13 year old. While some of the topics are a little deep for her level of thinking, they are still good exercises for her, and that's the whole point of this program - exercising and strengthening a walk with God. Each day's student journal assignment is about a page and a half, which takes no more than 15 minutes. It really is great "practice" in developing the character it takes to maintain daily devotions. It's also fun, funny, and enjoyable for her to work on.  We have completed a little of the journal, and will probably hold the rest until school starts to include it into the daily morning routine for Bible study. I am also considering going through the entire program with my teen girls Sunday School class, because I am that impressed with it.

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