I come from a family of teachers. Both of my parents and all of their children have, for some season of life, made their livelihood by teaching. So when Bible curriculum publisher, Positive Action for Christ, brought me on staff as a curriculum designer and writer, I was delighted. During this time, I had the privilege of writing a year-long curriculum for preschoolers, which was later also translated into Spanish. And in 2018, I was thrilled to write a 13-week study for New Growth Press. This study, Radically Different, aims to help middle-schoolers think about relationships through the biblical worldview lenses of creation, fall, and redemption.

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This hashtag attempts to sum up the story of the Bible. In creation, God made everything good. Yet because of the Fall, everything is also broken. And Jesus came to make "all things new." Good. Bad. New. These words don't merely condense the narrative arc of the Bible. They also provide lenses through which to view the world.

That's the point of a new study published by New Growth Press. Radically Different: A Student's Guide to Community introduces teens and tweens to these biblical lenses and helps them view relationships through them. I wrote this 13-week study, both the Student Guide and a Teacher Guide, during the summer of 2018. And I explained in the introduction to the Teacher Guide (image included) why I wrote it:

"Radically Different doesn’t aim to be exhaustive or provide a topical dictionary of issues. Instead, the goal is more modest—to help students in middle-school, or around that age, to start thinking biblically about life and relationships, even if it’s out of step with the currents of the day.

"I hope this study will help the next generation, my own children included, to live more in harmony with the realities and relationships of God’s Word and world. Through your ministry of teaching, may the Lord lead your students' relationships to be radically biblical and radically different."

I've included below some pictures of what the Teacher Guide (including sample pages from the Student Guide) will look like.

What others are saying . . .

Radically Different is an excellent new resource for parents, students, and ministry leaders. Each one of us wants to know our place in the world. This curriculum will help equip the next generation to live in the world by teaching them to see their relationships, both with God and others, through the lens of the gospel.
— Russell Moore, president, The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention
The middle school years can be difficult for kids. It can also be a struggle for many parents to find age appropriate Christian resources to help young tweens and teens process faith, friendships, and family. Champ Thornton’s new book, Radically Different: A Student’s Guide to Community, is a wonderful way to help teens learn about God and the story of Scripture, as well as how the Bible relates to their daily lives. This book is the exact resource I’ve been hoping to find!
— Melissa Kruger, TGC Director of Women’s Content and the author of 5 Things to Pray for Your Kids
I loved this book because it speaks to the heart of youth. The lessons are practical and gripping. At the same time, the book is faithful biblically and theologically. Thornton explains how a passion for God and for his Word can transform the lives of youth. Highly recommended!
— Thomas R. Schreiner, James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation and Associate Dean at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky, and author of The King in His Beauty: A Theology of the Old and New Testaments.
It’s not easy for Christian young people today who want to live in a way that’s pleasing to God. However, Champ Thornton has provided an invaluable resource to help middle school students be distinctive. Radically Different is a practical hands-on study offering solid insights and biblical guidance for relating to others.
— Jim Daly, President – Focus on the Family
I look back at my middle school years as the years when I made some of the most important decisions of my life in terms of whether or not Christ was going to be at the center of my life. It required that I become radically different from my peers. Radically Different is a great resource for thinking through what it will mean to have Christ at the center rather than the fringes of your life now and for the rest of your life!
— Nancy Guthrie, author of Dinner Table Devotions & Discussion-Starters
A few years ago, many of your children probably read Champ Thornton’s The Radical Book for Kids (if they haven’t yet, they should). Now, those children are young teenagers—and Champ has provided another resource that’s perfect for that age group. Radically Different challenges students to move beyond mere knowledge into deep community that’s grounded in the metanarrative of Scripture. I highly recommend this work!
— Timothy Paul Jones, Ph.D., C. Edwin Gheens Professor of Christian Family Ministry, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
I love the fun and engaging format of Radically Different. The side comment explanations and the winsome illustrations are certain to draw the interest of students and invite them in to read. Once they start, the solid biblical truth, aptly spoken, is sure to hold their attention cover to cover. A great youth ministry resource!
— Marty Machowski – family pastor and author of The Ology, Long Story Short, Don’t Blame the Mud and other gospel rich resources for church and home
Teenage Christian disciples need what we all need—regular, clear teaching of God’s Word, along with a warm, personal application of its truth to our lives. This punchy, well-written set of studies is an excellent framework for doing just that. It very cleverly manages to keep the big picture of the Bible’s story always in mind (creation–sin–redemption) while working through key topics and passages, and relating them insightfully to the realities of life as a Christian teen.
— Tony Payne, author of Fatherhood: What it is and what’s it for; and The Trellis and the Vine.
What a wonderful and needed book Champ Thornton has given to God’s people! It’s for teenagers—middle schoolers—and this old guy found himself wishing he had had something like this when he was a teenager. It would have made a significant difference. This is a great, practical, and user-friendly book. Give it to every middle schooler you know and to those who love middle schoolers. They will be so glad you did.
— Steve Brown, broadcaster with Key Life Network, seminary professor, and author
Champ Thornton’s Bible Study, Radically Different, for middle schoolers is excellent. He uses the grid of “creation, fall, and redemption” (“good, bad, and new”) throughout the study and everything discussed in the Bible Study is seen through that lens, especially with respect to how one relates to God and to people. The study has good practical suggestions throughout and these suggestions are always tied closely to the passage of Scripture being focused on for the week. For those who think a strong weekly dose of Scripture might be too much or too impractical for middle schoolers, this Bible Study will help them think differently. This is a fine balance between scriptural exposition and application of it to the lives of young people. For example, the section on relating to one’s friends is outstanding. I heartily endorse this Bible Study and will recommend it those ministering to middle schoolers.
— G. K. Beale, J. Gresham Machen and Research Professor of New Testament, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, PA

In 40 lessons, Exploring God’s Love introduces preschoolers from the wonders of Creation to the resurrection of Jesus Christ, emphasizing the Father’s glorious love along the way. This year-long curriculum offers Story Cards, Teacher's Manual, and a Student Manual full of original artwork, puzzles, coloring pages, cut-and-paste activities, and more.  Available here.

I wrote Exploring God’s Love with the hope that it would serve as a map to guide preschoolers (and their teachers) through the Bible’s rich and varied landscape. Along the way, the curriculum points them toward unique demonstrations of God’s love. As I worked with the team at Positive Action to prepare this study, God revolutionized my own life and my understanding and enjoyment of His love. Each lesson features three story from Scripture, and each story includes the following teaching tools:

  • Target Truths—summarize the primary message of the story

  • The Big Picture—provides the teacher with the historical and theological context for the story

  • Setting the Stage—suggests engaging ways to introduce the story

  • In-text Notes—present resources to add depth to the story

  • Review Questions—encourage student attention and retention

  • Additional elements supplement each lesson. They include a Note to the Teacher, Vocabulary, Scripture Memory, Catechism Questions, as well as Extra Activities that engage and challenge students in the first steps of their education.

Exploring God's Love Curriculum (in Spanish)

¡Llegó el momento de la aventura!

Exploremos el Amor de Dios es un estudio que consiste de cuarenta lecciones que llevan a los preescolares en un viaje a través de la Biblia, desde la creación del mundo hasta la muerte y ascensión de Jesucristo. Inspire a sus alumnos con el amor de Dios, haciendo clara la verdad de él mediante historias poderosas, actividades emocionantes e ilustraciones prácticas.


Click here to see the Teachers Manual

Click here to see the Student Manual

Click here to see the Storybook


En este manual del maestro:

  • Verdades fundamentales – una serie de objetivos principales incluidos con cada lección

  • Historias bíblicas – lecciones sobre el amor de Dios en las escrituras

  • Vocabulario – explicaciones de términos clave para suplementar el texto de la historia

  • Nota para el maestro – palabras de ánimo para apoyar e inspirar al maestro

  • El panorama general – información de trasfondo que provee contexto para cada historia

  • Preparando el terreno – Introducciones que llaman la atención para lograr la participación de los niños

  • Preguntas de repaso – herramientas para ayudarles a escuchar y comprender la lección

  • Memorización de textos bíblicos – versículos semanales para reforzar el mensaje de la lección

  • Catecismo – preguntas doctrinales que son fundamentales para el creciente conocimiento del alumno

  • Actividades extras – ideas adicionales para centros de actividad, manualidades y aplicaciones prácticas

  • Herramientas del texto – consejos didácticos, preguntas que incitan a la reflexión y puntos naturales para destacar el carácter de Dios