One of the questions that comes up when I’m with other children’s ministry leaders is how to choose a children’s ministry curriculum.
This week, I’m attending INCM’s Children’s Pastors Conference with about 2,000 other Children’s Ministry leaders. It’s such a great time of learning, networking and refreshing for the work we are called to.
As I walk the halls, I hear many of the same questions… How do we get more volunteers? How do I love, train and keep the volunteers I have? What children’s ministry curriculum do you use and do you like it?
That last question in an interesting one. The first two questions are universal. We all need volunteers and want to be good stewards of those God brings into our ministry. But the curriculum question really sparks the most interesting conversations.
Some people are die-hard fans of a curriculum. Others have tried everything available and are still searching. As the conversation fills with the reasons for likes and dislikes of the curriculum options, many of the comments are based on how well the curriculum engages or entertains the kids, how easy it is to implement for the leader or volunteers, or how much it costs.
While all of these are extremely important factors, I’m concerned that we’re missing the most crucial factor in choosing a curriculum:
Does this children’s ministry curriculum teach the Bible in a way that allows kids to clearly see who Jesus is and what He has done?
This should be our main concern in choosing a curriculum (and any other resource or event we choose for our ministry). I know we believe every curriculum should fit into this category, but sadly it doesn’t. Sure, you can make edits and rewrite to include the Gospel, but it’s not the same as when the Gospel takes center-stage from the start. When choosing resources or curriculum for kids ministry, I will always choose to one that teaches the Bible in a way that allows kids to see how the entire story of Scripture points us to Jesus and our need for Him. That is my foundation. I can build in creativity, crafts, skits, take-home resources and other important features, but the Gospel message must be at the center from the start.
Here are a couple of other tips to consider when choosing a curriculum:
Pick a children’s ministry curriculum that engages the heart before the hands.
We all want the curriculum to be engaging for kids. I’m a big proponent of fun, but never at the expense of the truth about Jesus. I feel that a curriculum that focuses on engaging the heart of kids with the Gospel will naturally be more captivating than any craft, game or creative element.
Decide first what kids need to know so that you can evaluate whether a curriculum meets your needs.
This is a major reason why Gospel centrality is important to me. I know that’s what we all need most. If you feel strongly that kids need to have an understanding of our call to missions, then make sure you carry that value into your curriculum search.
Educate yourself on the ideas and concepts that kids can appropriately grasp at each age.
While Gospel centrality is most important, it is only effective when it is presented in terms and ways that each age can understand. I want to be sure that I evaluate what kids can understand about God at each age so that the curriculum can present Truth in a receivable way.
Pick a children’s ministry curriculum that you, your leaders and your church leadership will be passionate about.
Once again, this is why I believe gospel-centrality is the most important factor in choosing a curriculum. We are all passionate about Jesus and sharing His message of salvation. If you can find a curriculum that effectively shares who He is and what He has done to kids, it will energize you and your leaders.
This article originally appeared here.