Going Beyond The Curriculum

Customize and personalize it

by Philip Hahn/ June 22, 2016

There is no such thing as perfect curriculum. No material can create the perfect spiritual learning experience. Some curriculum is better than others, but everything requires some level of adaptation to optimize its effect.

If you’ve ever tried curriculum that didn’t seem to connect with your kids or volunteers, you might need to look beyond the curriculum. Here are three things you can do to go beyond curriculum and customize a personalized experience for your ministry.

One: Know your church. Curriculum cannot work universally because no two churches are identical. Before you select or customize curriculum, you have to know the visions, goals, and values the Holy Spirit has given your leadership. Consider the neighborhood, physical resources, and talents the Holy Spirit has given your church.

Two: Know your kids. For both you and your volunteers, ministry is about relationships, not information. If you don’t personally know the children, how can you reach them on a personal level? What are their interests, fears, and temptations? You are missionaries. Study the language and culture of your calling.

Three: Leave the curriculum. Once you’ve done the preliminary work of knowing your church and your kids, it’s time to dissect that curriculum. Every aspect of curriculum is a suggestion, not a script. Here are some ways you and your volunteers can customize material:

  • Pray! Ministry is spiritual warfare! Pray over the material to seek what and how your kids need to learn. Leave room for the Holy Spirit to change the plan. This requires intentionally dedicating time for prayer with the sole purpose of seeking God’s plan for His message.
  • Don’t do everything. If there are portions of the material that don’t fit your students, staff, style, or schedule, leave them out.
  • Never read to kids from a paper. Just look it over a few times, pray about it, and share what you remember of it from your heart. You might miss some details, but you and your message will connect with the kids.
  • Improve it. The object lesson calls for a bike. Wheel in a motorcycle! The sermon tells a lame story. Embellish it with some dinosaurs! The video shows a boring guy talking. Find a fun Lego® clip that proves the same point! Take the material up a notch.
  • Add your ideas. Do you or your volunteers love puppets, costume characters, or juggling? There’s no reason you can’t add your own stuff to the mix.
  • Preach for a decision. Whether it’s in the curriculum or not, at some point you have to take the topic being taught and ask the kids to decide for themselves to apply it in a personal way. You and the Holy Spirit know better than the curriculum how your kids can apply the message. Give kids opportunities to make it personal.