Choosing curriculum is a high privilege for children’s ministers. Doing so means they get to determine a path of study that’ll ultimately help the kids in their ministry not only know about Jesus but also get to know Jesus personally.
This task is an awesome one—and one that comes with common pitfalls. Being aware of these pitfalls and avoiding them will help prevent future struggles and conflicts that may bog down your ministry.
5 Ways NOT to Choose Your Next Curriculum
Pitfall #1: I’ll take the “choose from the cover” approach.
“I just love this theme.”
“I think the art they used on that curriculum is the best.”
“That curriculum looks so inviting and cool.”
These are common statements I’ve heard children’s ministers make when discussing curriculum options. But making a decision on the outward appearance of a curriculum is a big mistake.
Here’s the truth: Publishers have a responsibility to create resources that look hip, cool, fun, clever, and inviting. But the attractiveness of a product simply can’t be your only deciding factor when choosing curriculum.
Look inside! Open covers. Read through the resource. Yes, it’s going to take time, but schedule the time it takes to determine if the curriculum lives up to the cover.
Pitfall #2: A church in my network chose this curriculum—it must be good!
If you’ve ever been around a group of children’s ministers, then you’ve probably noticed it doesn’t take long for the conversation to circle around to curriculum. We’re all interested in what the other guy’s doing. But don’t allow that external influence (and sometimes pressure) to determine which curriculum you use in your ministry.
While the recommendation of trusted friends and colleagues can be valuable, remember that every ministry is unique. You know your ministry better than anyone. Just because it works for another ministry doesn’t mean it will work for yours.
Pitfall #3: “Easy” must equal best—right?
One of the most common pitfalls of choosing a curriculum is equating easy to best. Ease of use is important. After all, it’s frustrating to have invested in resources your volunteers won’t or can’t use. So easy has its appeal. But being easy doesn’t mean it’s good. When you dig deeper, you may find that easy actually equates to “no meat” and poor teaching practices.
So apart from the curriculum you select, ensure you train your team on the best practices of teaching. Help them understand kids’ developmental characteristics and how God created children to learn. Knowledge breeds understanding, and understanding breeds better teaching. Once you have this as a foundation, the need for “ease of use” isn’t as urgent and won’t drive a faulty (or desperate) curriculum decision.
Pitfall #4: I am the Lone Ranger.
The problem: A choice must be made.
Your response: “I’m the children’s minister! Done!”
All too often, we fail to include others in decisions that affect many. As children’s minister, you likely know better than anyone the dynamics of your ministry and church, the needs of the kids you lead, the realities your families face, your budget and size constraints, volunteer realities, and the spiritual growth that needs to happen. So why should you bother getting input when you might know best?
Because input from others will reaffirm your great judgment or make you pause before making a giant misstep when it comes to curriculum.
Gather a small group of trusted, seasoned teacher, volunteers, and even parents who can speak into this important decision. Listen to the insight of representatives from your ministry, and you’ll make a wise and beneficial choice—and have stronger support for your decision already built in.
Pitfall #5: Free Is Fine.
Budgets are tight and curriculum can be costly, but consider the old adage: “You get what you pay for.” Sure, there may be some good resources out there that are free, but there are also some free options that are worth every cent you pay. If curriculum matters to your ministry and you want to see sustained spiritual growth, a published curriculum is worth every cent of your investment.
Don’t let cost be your deciding factor. The curriculum you choose is an investment that pays off for eternity. So don’t rely on sampler packs to piece together a curriculum. Don’t forfeit kids’ spiritual development to save a few bucks. It’s just not worth it. Build a plan for your ministry by choosing a solid curriculum that serves as the foundation.
Bill Emeott serves as lead ministry specialist for LifeWay Kids. Bill travels around the country training kids ministry leaders on how to use their curriculum effectively. He represents three main brands from LifeWay Kids—Bible Studies For Life: Kids, The Gospel Project for Kids, and Explore the Bible: Kids. Find out more at lifeway.com/kids.