How To Choose a Children’s Curriculum

I had a question from a pastor this week about the process I would take a team through in choosing a curriculum. Specifically, he wanted questions to ask. I thought I’d share with everyone what I told him. What would you add or change?

1.  Why does this ministry exist? What’s our goal or mission? (Are there Scriptures that specifically speak to that goal that inspire us?)

2.  What do we value? A great way to find this out is to give everyone a chance to brainstorm all the values they have for the ministry: kids loving Jesus, faith transformation, teaching the Word of God accurately, fun, community, creativity, relevance, parents taking the lead…etc! After they come up with them, write them on the board or on a big sheet of paper. Then force people to narrow the values so your ministry knows what the top three to five are. Finally, step back and discuss whether they all agree that these are the things they value most. Write these down as your ministry’s core values.

3.   Here’s a biggie: What’s your ministry’s philosophy of learning? Of course, for us, we’re proponents of “REAL Learning” (relational, experiential, applicable, learner-based). And every publisher has an underlying learning philosophy that will be present in every lesson. How do your leaders believe that kids learn best? Do they think it’s appropriate to have a video-based curriculum, or is that too passive? Are they strong proponents of multiple intelligences—teaching toward how every child is built? Is a lot of teacher talk (lecture) okay, or do they want kids doing things that are much more hands-on and discovery-oriented? (This discussion doesn’t have to be academic; just talk about what they believe. And if they don’t know, agree to learn more about this. It’s critical!)

4.   For the curriculum you’re considering, take a look at the Scope and Sequence (every website should provide this, and you can download these ahead of time). Some resources have a chronological walk through the Bible; some are focused on the point (or the topic). What does your team want to focus on? We’re finding that a lot of people are tired of the same-old stories alone and are looking for more Bible that’s rarely taught—that’s how we’ve created the Buzz Scope and Sequence. But you have to determine what kind of Scope and Sequence resonates with your team .

5.   From there, choosing a curriculum/resource becomes much clearer. Yet, there’s one more area you need to hone in on: What’s the ministry model that you’re trying to resource? I’m attaching a link here so you can see the variables, but basically determine if you’re resourcing a classroom setting, children’s church, large group/small group format, or activity center rotation. Resources work better in certain settings depending on if they’re designed for those settings.

6.   I love the question about guideposts/measurements: How will your team know that they’ve been successful? Some ministries measure by verses memorized. But is that enough? Go back to your mission—if it’s kids walking with Jesus for a lifetime, how will you measure that? I’m giving you some links to articles in our back-issue archive for Children’s Ministry magazine that’ll get you guys thinking.

Game Plan for Growth

Faith That Figures (I love 2 Peter 1:3-8 as a measurement of spiritual maturity.)

7.  In all honesty, after this, it really does come down to aesthetics. What does your team like? What looks like they’d enjoy teaching it? What would kids want to come back for week after week? There’s no right/wrong answer here. You want your team to love what they’ve chosen.  

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Christine Yount Jones
Christine Yount Jones is Content Director for Outreach Media Group. She has published several books and hundreds of articles about ministry in the last three decades. Before his death in 2003, Michael Yount and Christine had three children. Now, she and her husband, Ray Jones, together have five grown kids.