Zondervan, 2012, 128 pp., $14.99
If I told you many times I used David Lynn’s Talk Sheets for Sunday School or midweek program in the ’90s, you would have questioned whether I deserved a paycheck. Regardless, it was the best tool for me to invoke discussion among our students. Well, it’s 2012; and David Lynn is back with Middle School Talksheets: Epic Old Testament Stories. The format is pretty much the same, minus the goofy clip art, which I loved. Each page is packed with questions, check boxes and fill-in-the-blanks on one side and a lesson format on the other. There are 52 lessons, one for every week if you really wanted to use it every week for a year, but there are so many other uses for this material. Lynn takes us from Genesis to Judges with the main stories every kid should know. You could divide all the pages by books of the Bible and create quarterly Sunday School lessons, use them for a 4-week small group or use them as small group material on retreats. The only setback for the pages is determined by how much time you have to use the sheets. Each sheet is good for about 30 minutes. This is good if you only have a one-hour class. If you group time is longer, these sheets make for a great small group complementary piece to your midweek meeting. Thanks to David Lynn, we again have an easy, reproducible page for quick discussion to encourage kids to know God’s epic story.
—Paul Turner, Pleasant Grove Assembly, Pleasant Grove, Alabama
David Lynn’s book Middle School Talksheets: Epic Old Testament Stories promotes relational ministry by asking students what they honestly think, feel and question about God, the Bible and theology. There is an array of discussion starters that asks students to encounter biblical text on a personal level. The lessons are structured so they can be adapted to any group. This is a terrific resource for people who do not want the typical “I’m just going to tell you a story and then give you a moral” style lesson. The only thing youth leaders may not like about this series is the curriculum reviews the most commonly known Old Testament stories. However, Lynn does a good job of looking at the stories from different perspectives than are traditionally taken, bringing new life to God’s Word.
—Rachel Galarneau, Springfield, Ohio
Middle School Talksheets is an excellent resource for any middle or junior high Sunday School class. While you definitely will have to adapt the lessons and make them more for your students, it creates a good foundation on which to build. It gets students involved in some of the more unfamiliar Old Testament stories and relating them to life today. Great resource!
—D.J. Pittman, Youth & Family Minister, Branches of Christ Church, Acworth, Georgia
This resource is going to be a great help to youth workers. Students don’t want to just sit and listen. They want to talk about the subject. The “Read Out Loud” sections help busy youth leaders have a great intro into the discussion. The quick and creative questions promote your students to think and jump into the discussions. The Old Testament stories draw young teens into the Bible where they find power through God’s Word. This resource will be a help for youth leaders on the go and for providing students a way to bring God’s Word into their daily lives.
—Dr. Grant T. Byrd, Minister with Students, First Baptist McKinney
Middle School Talksheets comes from a series of other heart talks for various age groups. These talksheets are similar to the others in that they have a balance of humorous questions mixed in with questions that get kids to think beyond the lesson/story. It does a good job if getting them to think of ways to apply them to their life. Each sheet contains five to six main questions around a particular topic. These talksheets spend about 35 lessons on Genesis and Exodus with the last 17 devoted to the rest of the Old Testament. They have decent material for leaders, but the info is only based on assisting with the talksheet, not the actual text (i.e., background, commentary, etc.) Overall, the talksheets are a good supplement for Bible studies rather than being used as the heart of your lessons. It is an easy resource to use for help with discussion questions, but it doesn’t go very deep. Youth leaders will have to do their own prep work beforehand.
The king of the talksheets, David Lynn is back and better than ever with his newest addition to his talksheet series of books with More Middle School Talksheets: Epic Old Testament Stories. It is the companion to his book released this spring, Middle School Talksheets: Epic Old Testament Stories. As usual, it provides 52 grab-and-go reproducible student handouts with teaching helps and lesson plans on the back of each. It picks up where the first book left off midway through the Book of Judges with the story of Barak and Deborah and closes in II Kings with the story of King Josiah. Each talksheet is well done and thought-provoking. Each sheet cuts to core of the story with discussion questions, age-appropriate case studies and life-application challenges.
Do not dismiss this book as a quick addition to the talksheet series. Lynn comes back around with a fresh resource that is much needed for middle school and hunior high ministries. If you are looking for a resource to help you go through the Old Testament with your students, look no further. The combined resources of the two books give any youth worker two solid years of study. If you are looking to complete the third year of your middle school ministry, consider Lynn’s other book Junior High/Middle School Talksheets: Psalms and Proverbs: Updated to round out your teaching schedule.
—Dan Istvanik is a middle school/junior high youth pastor at Berean Baptist Church in Mansfield, Ohio, and has been in youth ministry for about 18 years. He shares his resources, reviews and “ran-dumb” thoughts on his blog.