Photo: Chris Meehan
Photo by Chris Meehan

As the new Dwell curriculum coordinator for the Christian Reformed Church in North America, Jill Benson will play a key role in helping the CRCNA continue to provide wide-ranging and scripturally solid Reformed children’s ministry curricula to churches and families.

Especially important is that she comes on board as Dwell Digital, a subscription-based program designed to give churches enhanced digital access to Dwell and fresh Dwell content, will become available through Faith Alive Christian Resources.

“Being able to be part of this is exciting,” said Benson. “Ever since graduating from Gordon-Conwell Seminary in 2012, I've had a vision to bring the big story of the Bible to children in a way that doesn't water down the Scriptures, conveying all the Reformed ideas I find so important.”

The Dwell curriculum helps preschool through eighth-grade students better understand and live more deeply into God’s story of salvation.

Benson was first introduced to the Dwell curriculum as a Sunday school teacher and then later chose to use Dwell when she became the director of children’s ministries at a church in the Pittsburgh, Pa., area.

“I greatly appreciate the ways this curriculum so successfully accomplishes that vision I had hoped for after seminary — teaching the big story of the Bible through each lesson,” she said.

“My longtime love for this curriculum and this work of teaching children the Bible led to my interest in working with Faith Formation Ministries.”

Karen DeBoer, creative resource developer for Faith Formation Ministries, which oversees the Dwell curriculum, said Benson comes into the position at a key moment in the refreshing of the Dwell curriculum.

“It's so exciting to be able to offer Dwell at the level of support Jill will provide,” said DeBoer. “Jill brings to this position a background in biblical studies, an understanding of what it takes to create solid curriculum, and years of experience with Dwell as a volunteer, as a parent, and as a director of children's ministries.”

In her position, Benson will build and equip a community of Dwell curriculum users, coordinating, developing, and participating in the curriculum-specific training of children’s ministry leaders and volunteers via workshops and other means.

She will also, among other responsibilities, curate and share helpful curriculum-specific resources, including those developed by Dwell users.

The creation of her position, said Benson, took place with a few important changes and improvements in mind — one of which was the institution of Dwell Digital.

Offering a full range of resources in digital format for Dwell leaders, this is the most significant upgrade to Dwell since its creation nearly a decade ago. Especially exciting is that Dwell Digital will be updated regularly as needed — and this will be one of Benson’s jobs.

“I will be completing regular refreshes of the Dwell curriculum to keep it up to date and relevant,” she said.

At the same time, Benson added, it will be important to establish a community for curriculum users to support them in the important task of teaching God’s story to children.

“I want to try to create a space for Dwell users to interact and share ideas with one another,” she said.

Exciting to her is the prospect of helping to bring the story of God’s salvation to kids at a time when formation of faith — with the help of their parents — is crucial. And this is one of the main goals of Faith Formation Ministries.

“Countless studies have concluded that the primary impact on a child's faith formation comes from their parents,” Benson said.

“To me, the significance of a faith formation ministry is that it equips parents to raise children who love Jesus and follow him in every area of their lives. This ministry strengthens the faith of parents, teens, and children, all of which results in followers who know the Word of God and live out the love of God.”

If your church is interested in exploring the Dwell curriculum visit www.DwellCurriculum.org. If you have questions about how to use it or how to train Dwell leaders, please contact Jill Benson at jbenson@crcna.org.