Frequently Asked Questions
Browse the topics below to find out more about this resource, how you can use it, and how to find related resources.
Yes. Once the lessons were complete, we recruited teachers in schools in several parts of North America to try them out in their own classrooms and provide feedback. We also recruited experts in political science and civics education from outside our project team and had them review all of the materials and make suggestions for corrections and changes. Improvements were made to every lesson based on what we learned. The feedback that we received was also very positive!
This website does not aim to promote the politics of one political party or persuasion. The writing team was not assembled to represent one political viewpoint. The lessons are not designed to push students toward one political allegiance. In fact, a key desire informing the project is to help students learn what resources Christian faith can bring to living together with those with whom we disagree politically. This resource is not about who we vote for (important as that question may be), but about how we conduct ourselves in public spaces, contribute to civic wellbeing, and live with differences that are not about to go away.
This resource arose from a partnership between the Paul B. Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity and Politics and the Kuyers Institute for Christian Teaching and Learning. The mission of the Henry Institute is to promote serious reflection on the interplay between Christianity and public life. The Kuyers Institute seeks to support equally serious reflection on the ways in which Christian faith can inform teaching and learning. Both Institutes are located at Calvin University, a Christian liberal arts university located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The mission of Calvin University is to equip students to think deeply, to act justly, and to live wholeheartedly as Christ’s agents of renewal in the world. We recruited Christian educators from various parts of north America to help develop the resource. You can read more about our team here.
We recruited experienced Christian educators from various parts of North America to help develop the resource. They developed the lesson plans in consultation with Christian scholars specializing in education, political science, and theology. The lessons were also tested in a range of schools and reviewed by scholars from other universities and organizations. You can read more about our team here.
The purpose of this project was to provide teachers with a new way to think about civics teaching and to provide enough lesson plans to start implementing the approach. We hope that the lessons provided will encourage you to add your own ideas as you teach the rest of your civics curriculum. We do not anticipate adding further lesson plans here in the near future.
Everything here is free for use for personal teaching, study, and research in its present form. If you are interested in using any of the materials in a published work, such as another website or a published curriculum, please contact us to inquire about permissions.
There is no cost for using the materials for personal teaching, study, and research. Everything is free for use with students or in professional development contexts. You can make as many copies of the provided handouts as you need for your students, and you can post the materials that students need to your class’s online platform for their use. If you’d like to share an activity with another teacher, we would love it if you would point them here to this site. If you are interested in using any of the materials in a published work, such as another website or a published curriculum, please contact us.
We understand that there are many pressures on your teaching time. While local curriculum standards vary, the lessons included here can help you meet existing curriculum standards. We suggest reviewing the learning goals for each lesson and comparing them to your local curricular needs. The lessons here are designed so that they make sense as a sequence, beginning with work on understanding what hospitality means in the Christian tradition, moving through connections to various aspects of civic life, and concluding with more intensive hands-on application. However, if you cannot accommodate the whole sequence, it is perfectly fine to select just the lessons that you need. We have indicated in the lesson instructions where exposure to ideas from a previous lesson is helpful.
There are certainly many connections between the activities in this resource and typical civics topics and curricular standards, so you should be able to integrate these lessons into your civics teaching and serve existing curricular goals. However, this website is not intended to provide a whole civics curriculum, nor were the lessons designed to cover all of the topics typically included in a civics curriculum. We recommend that these lessons be interwoven with your existing resources to add a more rigorous faith-informed dimension to your teaching about public life.
This resource grows from the belief that Christian faith can thoughtfully and fruitfully inform our approach to politics in ways that contribute to the common good. The Paul B. Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity and Politics offers further resources for thinking about the relationship between faith and politics, including conferences, public lectures, publications, a podcast and more.
This resource rests on the conviction that Christian faith can fruitfully inform the way that we teach across the curriculum. The Kuyers Institute for Christian Teaching and Learning at Calvin University offers a range of other resources for thinking about this further, including conferences, other online curriculum resources, books, a podcast, and more. The book On Christian Teaching: Practicing Faith in the Classroom by David I. Smith is a good place to explore the thinking underlying these resources.
Learning more about the ideas behind this resource can help you nuance your teaching and grow in your own ability to navigate issues surrounding faith and public life. There is a growing literature about the Christian practice of hospitality. If you would like to learn more about where hospitality fits into New Testament theology, we recommend Joshua Jipp’s book Saved by Faith and Hospitality. If you would like to learn more about how the practice of hospitality developed in the history of the Christian church, we suggest Christine Pohl’s book Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition. If you would like to think further about hospitality and politics, a good starting point is a book by one of the leaders of our project, Matthew Kaemingk, titled Christian Hospitality and Muslim Immigration in an Age of Fear.
There are of course other good civics education resources, though we have not found others that investigate the relationship between Christian hospitality and civic engagement (that’s why we designed this resource!). We have worked on previous projects that take a similar approach in relation to other areas of the curriculum. The FAST (Faith and Science Teaching) project offers many lesson plans for science teachers and religion/Bible teachers for addressing the relationship between faith and science. The Kuyers Mathematics project provides lesson plans that explore the relationship between faith and mathematics teaching. The What if Learning project includes more than a hundred examples of faith informing teaching across the wider curriculum and age range. The Practicing Faith project provides tools for assessing the impact of Christian schools on their students’ formation. You can keep up with new developments at the Kuyers Institute website.