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Why Not Write Your Own?

Valerie Van Kooten

Your church's focus may shift to becoming "the next big thing."

You might not sit down to write a curriculum thinking down the road it might be sold to a huge publisher, but those who've been there say that's often in the back of writers' minds.

Fletcher admits the thought crossed his mind. "I'm sitting there writing, thinking, Hey, this is something we could package," he says. "You're thinking this could be a secondary benefit that would put your church on the map." 

And the number of times a church's write-your-own curriculum is grabbed up by a big publisher, in all honesty? Less than 1 percent of the time. That's just not a worthy goal when there are better things to do with your ministry time.

Occasionally, an entire congregation's ego gets in the way, says Burney. "Sometimes there's this perception that there isn't a curriculum out there good enough for us, so we'd better write our own," she says.

Fletcher agrees. "Sometimes we can use a curriculum straight up, but other times we tweak it just because of the size of our church or a timeline we want to be on," he says, adding that Manna Church ministers to 700 children on Sunday mornings. "So we adjust it to geography and time and space, but that's a lot better than adjusting it for content, which takes up the bulk of your time."

In the end, all Christian publishers have something of value to offer to congregations. Those who've walked down the path of writing their own curriculum say they've learned that no curriculum will ever be perfect.

"It's better to train teachers who can take an okay lesson plan and turn it into an excellent lesson plan than to strive for an excellent lesson plan right from the start," Burney says. "It doesn't have to be perfect-it's better to let the Holy Spirit come through it."

Valerie Van Kooten is a freelance writer from Pella, Iowa. She writes on education and church issues.

Customize It

Customize curriculum to fit your ministry's needs with these tips.

• Contextualize to setting. What's in the news in your area? What are kids experiencing that makes the Bible relevant to their lives? If your high school football team is in the championships, rename a unit on "The Life of Christ" to "Jesus Is #1."  Then decorate your education area like you're going to the big game.

• Contemporize to culture. Curriculum companies create resources one to three years out. They can't tap into the latest movies or music. Keep things interesting by doing so yourself. The movie Transformers just came out this summer, and since being a Christian is all about life transformation, just imagine what you could do with that.

• Adapt to specific needs. Nobody knows your kids better than you. If a curriculum is craft-heavy and you've got a room of glitter-challenged boys, go online to and search for games to use instead of crafts. If you've got kids who struggle to read, cut reading and simply tell the story.


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