Curriculum that is DEEP

Discover, Experience, Expand, and Pastor

by Mark Entzminger/ June 24, 2016

Church should be fun. Watching kids laugh and smile throughout their entire ministry experience means good things are happening. In some instances, church may be the only place where kids actually have an environment that is tailored just for them and allows them to have fun.

So as you read the following post, don’t misinterpret creating a DEEP experience with one that is dry, boring, and stale. I just want to propose a question… What if there was something more? What if we didn’t have to sacrifice the fun and excitement kids love to accomplish a DEEP learning experience?

The curriculum you choose can be a key part of this process. If you and I were having a cup of coffee, and I was consulting you on what to look for in a curriculum, the “Fun Factor” would not be high on the list. Not because “fun” isn’t important, but because “fun” is much easier to delegate and create on a weekly basis than a master-planned diet of spiritual nourishment is.

Just about any young adult or teenager (even kids for that matter) can advise you on games and activities that will bring in a fun element. But finding someone with the skill to create a master plan for securing faith in the next generation is quite a different story.

So what would you look for if you wanted a curriculum solution that would provide a DEEP spiritual foundation? When I look at DEEP learning, I think of the following four components.

I would want a curriculum that facilitates an environment where:

  1. Kids DISCOVER God’s heart: Our sole purpose is to help the heart of a child connect with their Heavenly Father. Curriculum that places the Triune God at the centerpiece of every lesson is more likely focused on helping make this happen. When time is provided for kids to listen and respond to the Holy Spirit, they are going to hear His love and encouragement. As kids journey through life, they need to know more than “be like David” or “be like Esther.” They will need to know that the same God who was with those Bible characters is with them today. Help kids Discover God’s heart.
  2. Kids EXPERIENCE individualized outcomes: When kids are in groups, we often assume they are all getting the same experience. However, that is not always the case, nor is it always what is best. Whenever possible, I try to ensure that every kid has an opportunity to participate. For instance, rather than asking three or four kids to respond to a question, I ask them all to respond to a neighbor and then get feedback from three or four. This way all of the kids begin processing and learning. I value moving kids from spectator to participant whenever possible. That means I always ask, “Is there a way I can modify this portion of the service to get more people involved?” There are dozens of creative ways to accomplish this, but the goal is for kids to individually participate in elements that help them grow in their faith. This is also different from simply following instructions as a group. Allow their brains to be engaged, and give them the freedom to create and think.
  3. Kids EXPAND their thought process: Kids today do not need us to provide information, they need us to help with the interpretation. The likelihood of them being exposed to different worldviews and religions as a child is more and more an issue. Simply telling them God’s Word is true doesn’t have the same effect it did 30 years ago. But a curriculum that helps them become critical thinkers goes a long way to helping them own their faith. The kinds of questions a curriculum asks (or empowers parents to ask) make a huge difference here. Kids’ minds are engaged differently when asked a direct question: (e.g., Can you recall what was unique about Joseph’s coat?) vs one that requires a higher level of thinking (e.g., How do you think Joseph felt when his father gave him that coat? In what ways is that gift like or unlike what our Heavenly Father has done for us?)
  4. Leaders can PASTOR kids relationally: Studies have shown over and over that strong, healthy relational bonds increase the effectiveness of disciple making. This happens best in small groups when the leader has been trained how to listen to the child and create strategic moments for the Holy Spirit to speak to their heart. Some curriculum options have crafted this philosophy directly into their resource.