Choosing the Right Curriculum for Your Children’s Ministries

Your choice is based on more than budget

by Steve Adams/ January 9, 2015

Picture this scenario: there is a new church plant in your neighborhood and you have been selected to be the children’s ministry director! There is so much to do that you cannot help wondering where to begin. Of all the many responsibilities that come along with your new role, the most critical one is this—you are responsible for imparting spiritual truths to the children who will come to you each week. With this in mind, you want to do more than just buy a curriculum pack that fits your budget. You want to reach kids for Christ and impact their lives.

It can be overwhelming to know which curriculum is the best fit for your ministry. To make that decision, you need a good idea of where your kids are spiritually and then determine a goal for their spiritual development. Here are some tips to help you pick the right curriculum for your kids.

1. Understand Your Audience and Culture

Each church is different and each church has its own culture. To choose a curriculum that best fits your church, it is imperative to know your kids and the culture they live in by connecting with them on a personal level. This is what it means to be relevant. You can do this by utilizing an ancient secret technique that I will share with you now . . . ask questions. I know what you are thinking; it sounds too simple. But the best way to know your audience and culture is to ask questions.

  • Ask the kids—What movies are they watching? What music are they listening to? Which games are they playing? What problems are they facing at school, at home, etc.?
  • Ask the youth pastor—What are junior high kids dealing with at school and at home? This will give you a picture of what your elementary kids will soon be facing.
  • Ask the parents—Are there struggles you have noticed with your kids that would be helpful for me to know as I think and pray about how to effectively minister to them?

2. Seek God for Direction

In kids’ ministry, your role is that of a shepherd. Your kids are your flock. Ask God to show you what your flock needs to hear and learn. Each year, I find a time to put everything else aside and connect with God on what these kids need in the coming ministry season. I call it my “Mt Sinai” retreat. It sounds super dramatic, but the reality is I need to hear from God and the Scripture says that when we call on Him, He listens and responds. There is nothing complicated about this process. Sometimes it is one full day; other times it is two. It may even be several half days. The key point is to intentionally find time to connect with God on behalf of the flock you will be teaching.

3. Choose a Curriculum that is Relevant, Simple, and Easy to Use

A relevant curriculum will utilize multiple elements and options for teaching such as object lessons, visuals, engaging stories, and media. However, even though we are in a media-driven culture and the use of media is an absolute must, be cautious not to overuse media. Good curriculum embodies a collective approach of different elements that meet the learning needs of everyone. Remember that some kids learn with boisterous activities; some learn with quiet activities.

An effective curriculum will also be simple to understand and implement. It should provide a clear and simple scope and sequence of the teaching objectives.

If a curriculum is too complicated, you will spend as much time adapting it as you would if you wrote your own curriculum. You will frustrate volunteers who are probably not spending as much time studying the lessons as you are.

Above all, the curriculum needs to be unashamedly connected to the Word.

4. Find a Curriculum that Involves Parents

Look for curriculum that provides opportunities for parents to get involved in the discipleship process. You want it to be simple enough to inspire parents who are new to the discipleship process, but it also needs to give long-term Christian parents deeper options for reinforcing the teaching. If it is too involved, some parents will not follow through. Churches often do not consider the perspective of parents. Some are new Christians and who do not understand how to be the primary source of discipleship in their family. Others are long-term Christians who know they should be the primary source of discipleship but who simply need a boost to follow through. A curriculum that involves parents on both an entry level and a deeper level can create a win for parents and the kids. 

What happens when you have found the curriculum that is a perfect fit for your ministry? Now it is time to convince the pastor or board that your church should invest in this curriculum. Do you look for the closest phone booth, walk in as a meek and mild children’s director, but leap out as “Captain Visioneer”? Okay, maybe that is not how it happens. But, as the advocate for children’s ministry in your church, you have to help the decision makers see the importance and necessity of the curriculum you have chosen.

One of the ways to do this is to frame the reasons for your choice around the mission, vision, or goals of your Senior Pastor and the church. Help him see how this curriculum will help move the kids of your church along the same pathway as the adults. You are selling them on a long-term investment that will affect the future of the church. Ask them to recount the last five, ten, or fifteen years of their life. It goes by quickly, so it is our obligation to do whatever we can to effectively reach these kids while they are in the most pliable and teachable stages of their development.

(Sarc on) And if that does not work, throw yourself on the floor and begin to kick and scream. You never know; it might work. (Sarc off)