For those of us involved in children’s ministry, we’re incredibly fortunate to have an ocean of ministry resources at our fingertips. Walk into any Christian bookstore and you can cherry pick whatever curriculum you want, categorized for your specific ministry needs; large groups, small groups, kids worship, Scripture memory, chronological studies, etc. However, the downside to the overwhelming amount of curriculum options is the daunting task of choosing the right curriculum.
My Curriculum Non-Negotiables:
● Is it biblical?
○ You would be surprised at how many curriculums are developed and available that have a very small emphasis on Scripture. If the curriculum is weak on Scripture, leave it on the shelf!
● Does the theology woven throughout the curriculum align with the theology and doctrines of our church?
○ Believe it or not, some curricula are sneaky about planting certain theological seeds in their curriculum. If the theology and doctrines differ from what your church teaches, save yourself a headache (and a one-on-one meeting with a disgruntled pastor) and leave it on the shelf!
● Substance of Fluff?
○ We do want kids to have fun at church! However, the primary goal is substance and depth. If the primary goal is entertainment, go to Chuck E. Cheese … and leave the curriculum on the shelf.
● Is it age-appropriate?
○ Does the biblical content, activities and vocabulary used accurately hit the target age group? If the curriculum doesn’t cater to specific age groups, leave it on the shelf!
● Does it provide resources that equip parents to strengthen the relationship between church and home?
○ Our goal in children’s ministry is not to be the primary disciplers of children. Many curricula provide take-home resources like activity pages for the week, family worship suggestions, talking points for the parents and more. If the curriculum doesn’t provide some kind of resource for parents/families, you might want to consider leaving it on the shelf.
● Scope and sequence?
○ A scope and sequence provides an organized (30,000 ft. view) view of the curriculum with a clear direction for the future. You need to know where you’re going and also how you’re going to get there! If the curriculum doesn’t have an organized scope and sequence, leave it on the shelf.
● Does the curriculum point to Jesus?
○ This sounds like an obvious one, but every Sunday morning, your children should encounter Jesus. Some curricula never mention Jesus until the curriculum gets to the New Testament. Jesus may not be the central figure in each story, but each story can point to Jesus, our sin and our need for Him. If the curriculum misses this one, don’t just leave it on the shelf, take it to the 50 percent off table in the back of the store. (Kidding)
My suggestions when choosing a curriculum:
- Assemble a curriculum evaluation team consisting of parents, ministry volunteers and ministry staff.
- Go to a christian bookstore and ask for samples of several curricula. (Most curricula will happily provide a free sample)
- Ask the evaluation team to carefully study the curriculum and to take notes of their findings. Document their praises and their concerns.
- Collect the information from the team, organize the documents and prayerfully make the decision.
- Lastly, remember that there is no such thing as a perfect curriculum. There will always be some element of the curriculum that you’re not a fan of and that’s OK. Lastly, remember that Scripture is the best curriculum there is.
What would you add to this list? What curriculum works best for your ministry?