Ministry Basics: Selecting Curriculum

November 12, 2013 — 2 Comments

This post marks the first in what I hope will be dedicated to help solidify your ministry’s basic (but essential) components.  If you are relatively new to ministry, I pray that these posts will help you successfully build your ministry.  If you are a ministry veteran, I hope that these posts will serve as reminders and points to use in evaluating your ministry’s effectiveness.

Today we’ll look at selecting curriculum.

As a ministry leaders, there are many, many important decisions that you’ll make that will greatly impact your ministry.  Towards the top of the list is the task of selecting curriculum.

There are numerous options to choose from these days.  Video-based; denomination-based; student-led; volunteer-driven.  There are options for an assortment of ministry formats/styles: large group/small group; traditional classroom; Sunday school; mid-week; urban; children’s church; digital; printed.  The possibilities are endless.

With that said, let me make this disclaimer: I do not believe that there is a ‘perfect’ curriculum.  I believe that while there are great options, you won’t find one that meets every criteria on your list or suits your ministry perfectly without the need to edit.

So what do you do?  How do you choose from the plethora of options?

In my experience, I’ve found that I typically like to not veer to either extreme of all fun (watered down lessons) or too theologically heavy (over the children’s heads, too difficult for my volunteers to teach, close to seminary level).  I’ve tended to be somewhat in the middle – Biblically sound, Bible-based but fun and engaging.

If you are in the market for new curriculum, here are a few things I’d recommend you should keep in mind:

1. Determine your ministry’s vision, mission and core values.  Knowing this will help you stay focused on what you need/want in a curriculum and how the selected curriculum will help you think with the end in mind.

2.  Bring a team of staff, current volunteers and parents together to help you discern the best options.  Bringing the right people to the table will (1) show you value the opinions of ministry investors; (2) provide different points of view and good dialogue; and (3) get more buy-in from those on the team.

3.  Make a list of what’s important.  What are you looking for in terms of:

  • Format:  Large group/small group; traditional classroom; children’s church; multiple ages in a combined setting; etc.
  • Denomination preference, if any
  • Delivery:  Digital or printed?  This is definitely something to consider if budget is a strong factor in your decision-making.
  • Technology:  Video-format, live teaching or a combination of the two?
  • Parent take-home resources:  Printed or digital; technological elements (i.e. videos, social media integration, apps).
  • Age-specific:  Are you looking for curriculum based on a certain age group or are you looking for something comprehensive where all ages will be learning the same thing?

4. Once you narrow your options, request samples of those that make the cut.  Take advantage of no-obligation trial offers.  Try out sample lessons in your ministry, and then get feedback from volunteers, parents and children.

5.  Before making a final decision, spark good dialogue.  Contact the publisher and ask questions.  Talk with others who are currently using or have previously used the curriculum you’re interested in.  (Facebook, Twitter and Children’s Ministry discussion forums are great places to go for this.)

6.  Remember: no curriculum is perfect.  After your selection process has concluded and you’ve made a decision, know that you’ll very likely have to edit your material to suit your ministry’s facility, resources, budget, church style/culture and location.  And you may find that no available option is ideal, so you decide to write your own curriculum.

Over the course of the next few days, I’ll share what curriculum we use, why we selected it, and how it’s working for us.

Now it’s your turn to talk!  How do you choose curriculum?  What is important to you in making a curriculum choice?

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2 responses to Ministry Basics: Selecting Curriculum

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