whats-up-packThere are outstanding gospel-centered, biblically driven resources now available for virtual every age group. But it seems like middle-schoolers still tend to fall through the cracks. They are too old for the kids’ stuff and too young for the teenage and adult stuff. The problem is compounded by writers who do not feel gifted for writing at this age level. I remember trying to read Christian materials when I was in middle school and wondering if the authors had ever even met anyone my age. They seemed to be trying too hard to be cool and clever—and the result was “a failure to communicate.”

That’s one of the reasons I am happy to see the publication of What’s Up: Discovering the Gospel, Jesus, and Who You Really Are, by Jack Klumpenhower and Deborah Harrell.

It might help to answer a few questions about it, drawn from the publisher’s description:

What’s the format?

It’s a workbook curriculum.

Is it engaging?

They use illustrations, stories, and interactive activities to help kids understand why the gospel really is good news.

What need does it meet and how might God use it to change lives??

It 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.

How long does it take?

There are 15 lessons, each designed to take about 90 minutes. But you can go at a slower pace, expanded it to 27 weeks with 45-minute lessons..

How is the material broken down?

There are three parts: (1) the gospel, and (2) your heart, and (3) a changed life—with five lessons in each. Here is an overview of what is covered:

Unit 1: The Gospel


1. Oh . . . Now I See (Big Idea: Seeing Jesus)

2. That’s My Whole Life Story (Big Idea: The Gospel Story)

3. My Tongue Is Connected to My—What? (Big Idea: Sin of the Heart)

4. Hmm . . . What Grades Do I Get? (Big Idea: Justification by Faith)

5. Presents? For Me?! (Big Idea: Holiness and Fighting Sin)

Unit 2: Your Heart

6. But I’m a Good Person (Big Idea: Two Kinds of Repentance)

7. Do I Love God? Um (Big Idea: Big Forgiveness and Big Love)

8. Yes, I Worship Idols (Big Idea: Real-Life Idols)

9. Look! Shark! (Big Idea: Confronting Unbelief Lesson)

10. That’s My Dad! (Big Idea: Living as God’s Child)

Unit 3: A Changed Life

11.  Grrr . . . That Makes Me SO Mad! (Big Idea: Resolving Conflicts

12. I’m So Sorry—NOT! (Big Idea: False Repentance)

13. I’m So Sorry—Really! (Big Idea: Godly Repentance)

14. I (Gulp) Forgive You (Big Idea: Forgiving Others)

15. Let’s. Keep. Going. (Big Idea: A Lifetime of Faith)

Could I see a sample?

Go here and click on the cover where it says “Sample.”

Are there helps for teachers?

There is a corresponding guide just for teachers, filled with  instructions, notes, helps, and directions to make teaching the gospel to children clear and simple in the corresponding teacher guide. It requires little work outside of the classroom or teaching setting.

Is this just a Sunday-School curriculum?

The curriculum is flexible and can be easily adapted to a variety of settings besides Sunday School (e.g., youth group, Christian school, homeschool, family devotional supplement).

Can you hook me up with a deal?

WTS just put the materials on sale:

If you decide to pick this up, I hope  you find it helpful!