Children and Youth Ministry in Uganda: Using the 5D’s of Design
Africa has experienced a widespread revival over the last few decades. Millions are coming to a basic belief in the Gospel of Christ, but as popular Christianity swells, so do the destructive habits of nominal religion. Many local leaders believe that the next generation needs better preparation to lead the rapidly-growing African church into long-term, stable, and thriving faith. For this to become a reality, we need to invest in their faith and disciple them from when they are young. However, this would require us to evaluate our ministry to them to ensure that we are meeting their needs through their realities.
We would like to share with you one of the ways we have seen ministry to children evaluated for transformed lives. One of the greatest hindrances to spiritual formation for any child is presenting them with scripture that does not allow them to experience God through their realities. In January 2010, OneHope president Rob Hoskins and a colleague Duane Mellor traveled to East Africa for strategic planning meetings in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda, to discover how they could serve the Church and parachurch reaching children and youth. Duane and Rob met with many ministers, children, ministry directors, NGO representatives, and denominational leaders. All of them confirmed that there was little being done to plant and strengthen faith among primary students in school, church, and at home. They were excited about developing a metanarrative, visually-based, parent-child book with accompanying manuals for Sunday school teachers and school club patrons. They also wanted to establish robust training programs for this curriculum in order to train parents and Sunday school teachers, and to start primary Scripture Union and church-based clubs.
To respond to this need, OneHope engaged in the design process which we call the 5D’s. Our last blog took us through the 5D’s process, which are the 5 stages of design;
How did OneHope use the 5D’s of Design in this project?
- Discover Stage
A ministry can only meet a community’s needs if it has a thorough knowledge of them, gained from both statistical data and the experience of the local leadership.
OneHope sent a small team of interns to carry out research which helped develop the Stories of Hope program. They interviewed hundreds of students, church leaders, and educators, to help create a visually arresting, culturally appropriate educational product for East African children.
Ugandan partners expressed a need for classroom materials for teachers around the country. Market research and strategic planning meetings held in Uganda confirmed that Ugandan children have a working knowledge of the Bible and of Bible stories, but they are unaware of the way those stories work together to tell and illuminate God’s Big Story. Analysis revealed six strategic areas of focus for ministry to Ugandan children and youth. These six specific areas are the key issues covered in the Stories of Hope program.
2. Design Stage
Stories of Hope is specifically targeted to reach illiterate young people in East Africa with the story of the Gospel.
The Stories of Hope program consists of 75 lessons specifically designed to communicate God’s Big Story to children while providing Biblical teaching on key issues such as absolute truth, sexual purity, healthy families, integrity, the One True God, and the value of human life. Additionally, the program also provides parents and children a way to connect regularly in a deep way and about meaningful topics.
The prototype was created based on detailed research on a massive scale in the areas we hoped to reach. Once we were acquainted with their needs, we designed an energized and rigorous program that was perfectly suited to meet those needs, and which could be calibrated to suit every subcultural milieu.
Once the prototype was complete, it was tested in Uganda, in October of 2010. With the feedback received we were able to make amendments on the text and graphics before finally printing the final copy.
3. Do Stage
Our materials and classes are uniquely suited to reach illiterate children in a welcoming and sensible way. We know that accepting the Gospel is about more than an emotional epiphany or intellectual consent–it is about learning your place in God’s Big Story, and Stories of Hope gives just such a narrative to each child’s life.
4. Document Stage
This is where we measure “OUTCOMES”
We look to see transformation in the lives of the children who participate in Stories of Hope. How do we measure this?
- Children will learn about and be able to communicate God’s Big Story.
2. Children will be able to articulate Biblical responses to cultural issues.
3. Parents and children will increasingly engage in meaningful communication.
4. Children’s workers will be equipped for ministry to children.
The following measurement tools have been created for use with the Stories of Hope program in order to confirm overall program success:
Child Participant Survey: Participants will take identical pre and post-surveys before and after the program to measure movement towards a Biblical perspective in their understanding of the identified six key issues.
Teacher Survey: Randomly selected teachers will complete the Teacher Survey to assess their sense of empowerment to teach their students.
Teacher Classroom Observation Form: Facilitators will randomly select participating teachers for classroom observation, recording their (the facilitators’) impressions of the teachers’ ability to effectively execute the curriculum on the Classroom Observation Form.
Family Survey: The Family Survey will be administered to all adult and child participants (over age 10) in the sample both before and after participation in the program.
It’s through this process of documenting stories from the field both ‘qualitative’ and ‘quantitative’ that the use of Stories of Hope as a ministry tool has grown into a thriving, widely-used resource that is teaching thousands of school children the fundamentals of strong faith, and instilling literacy in them at the same time.
5. Dream Stage
In June 2013, OneHope completed a preliminary evaluation report of the Stories of Hope program in Uganda. The research revealed that overall students’ Biblical knowledge increased from Benchmark 1 to Benchmark 2. However, there were no significant changes in student knowledge between Benchmark 2 to Benchmark 3. This preliminary report was designed to be a precursor to the overall Stories of Hope evaluation and adapting our materials according to their feedback.
After seeing its effectiveness in East Africa, The Stories of Hope program was adopted for use in other Africa regions and has since been translated to many local languages. This design process can be used for any program, activity, or initiative that needs to be developed or improved for effective ministry. So how can you adapt this design process into your ministry here is a list of things you can consider:
- What is the reality of my children and youth? What is affecting their day-to-day lives? If we know what is affecting them, then we can know what needs to be developed.
- What program or curriculum or activity or strategy have we been implementing that may need to be re-evaluated for their effectiveness to our children and youth ministry?
- Who do we need to bring on board, to begin the evaluation process to ensure that our children and youth are listening to the transforming message of the love of Jesus in a way that meets their needs?
We believe in the power of the Gospel and its ability to change the hearts of children and youth. So we follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in this process and we faithfully do our part. For any product development process to be successful, we have to always think of our audience first, understand their needs, and design a product that will meet that need. We also have to keep in mind that our world is very dynamic, requiring us to continually evaluate through research and modify our products and programs to remain relevant.