This post is Part 3 of Ministry Basics: Selecting Curriculum.
The Treehouse (our 1st-3rd Grade ministry area) is a very special place. Seeds of faith are planted and nurtured here but it’s also where we desire for children to have a greater understanding of the Bible and grow in their relationship with Jesus. We want the roots to grow deep (Colossians 2:7).
What we use
After much prayer and consideration (comparing other materials), our team chose LifeWay’s The Gospel Project.
For almost a year, a KidMin friend raved about this curriculum. She encouraged me to check it out. I did, and at the time, I didn’t feel particularly drawn to it. But as we refocused our vision and assessed our needs, it was clear that The Gospel Project was a good fit.
The selection process & why this was our choice
“This curriculum is awful” is something that my younger elementary (1st-3rd Grade) volunteers reiterated over and over last year. Our volunteers made the best out of material that was, for lack of a better word, outdated. Most lessons included a lot of verbalizing (from the teacher) and activity pages, so our volunteers ended up writing/supplementing the material. A change was needed immediately.
I am blessed to work with a wonderful team of seven committed ministry leaders and those on the team who represent our younger elementary ministry helped me evaluate 3 different curricula. We we looking for a curriculum that:
- was Bible-based and integrated Bible literacy; we wanted the younger elementary children to be more familiar with the Bible and have more of a Biblical foundation to better prepare them for our Preteen Ministry.
- digital, as curriculum costs had been about half of our annual budget;
- offered activities so that all types of learners could be engaged; and
- offered more media elements (such as video).
Because The Gospel Project takes children through the Bible in 3 years and met our criteria, this is what we use.
How The Gospel Project looks at our church
One of the biggest changes was switching from a classroom format to a large group/small group format. In addition, selecting The Gospel Project meant that the format for our mornings needed to change.
What I like
- The Gospel Project connects the whole Bible to Jesus (similar to the Jesus Storybook Bible).
- The curriculum introduces stories from the Bible that other curriculum might not offer (since it’s more chronological).
- The lessons are emailed directly from LifeWay to the leaders – one less thing for me to do.
- The journaling time at the end of the morning allows for quiet reflection each week.
- Curriculum has an app that parents can download to iPhone or iPad.
- The large, color timeline poster have added a nice decorative element in our exit ramp.
What I don’t like
- Projecting the Big Picture Question would be easier to do if it came in PowerPoint format rather than pdf.
- Customizing lesson order is difficult, as you can only skip a lesson, pushing it to the following week.
- The parent take-home page leaves much to be desired. Not only can we not email each week’s page individually to parents, the page lacks good follow-up questions to discuss at home.
- The Bible verses for the children are often too long and often include big words that 1st-3rd Graders can neither pronounce or spell.
Overall, I think if you’re looking for curriculum that is Bible-based, comprehensive and clearly presents the Gospel each week, The Gospel Project is worth looking into.
So, there you have it. I’d be happy to talk with you if you’re interested in learning more or have any questions. You can email me here. You can also learn more by visiting The Gospel Project for Kids’ website (you can click the logo above).
Tomorrow, I’ll share what we selected for our Preteen Ministry. I hope you’ll come back and read all about that!
Do you use The Gospel Project for your elementary ministry? What has your experience been?
If you don’t use The Gospel Project, what do you use? How’s it working for you?