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Choosing a Curriculum for your Children's Church Worship Hour
By: Glen Woods

I love ministering to kids and with them, especially in the Sunday morning children's church worship hour. It delights my heart to participate with them in activities that glorify God. Together, we sing praises to Jesus. We interact with Bible stories. We giggle, snort, and wheeze at goofy antics. We express our love for the Lord God through our words and actions. We dance, pray, shout, and sing for Jesus.

A key component that enables me to create an environment that causes my kids to learn is curriculum. The question many churches face is, "How do we know which curriculum to choose for our church? Which one best fits our ministry needs?"

Truth be told, some churches do not seem to give a lot of thought to these questions. Either they select material that seems the "coolest," or they use what they have always used, or they "wing it" by making it up on the fly as they progress, or they decide to write their own curriculum, often with varying results. I know this is true because I have done all of these things at some point over the years. Surely I am not the only one. We can do better.

I have listed below some key questions I have learned to ask as I address the curriculum review process for the children's church worship hour.

* How many children?
* What is the age span?
* Are the majority of kids younger or older?
* Do you have age-graded programming for the worship hour?
* If yes to the above, what are the age span breakdowns for each group?
* Also, how many kids are in each group?
* How many teachers?
* What is your Sunday children's church worship hour allotted budget for the year?
* What is the time span of each session?
* Do children begin service in the sanctuary with parents and then dismiss at a certain point?
* If yes, do they stay through the song packet?
* If yes, does the pastor conduct a children's sermon with the kids on the platform?
* What model of kids' church do you prefer to conduct?
* Are you looking for a year-around curriculum?
* Do you want curriculum to correspond in scope and sequence to Sunday School and mid-week material?
* Do you desire to use puppets?
* Do you need material to be reproducible?
* Do you prefer live-action skits?
* Do you have kids with special needs?
* Do you have a significant number of kids who attend at intervals because of home situations?
* Do you have consistent weekly leaders or are they on a rotation?
* If they are on a rotation, how frequently do they serve?
* What Bible translation do you prefer?
* Do you use live music or CDs?
* Do you prefer DVD media-driven curriculum?
* Do you prefer topically organized curriculum?
* Do you like to change material throughout the year, using a few different approaches?

Obviously, this is a lot to consider. Aren't your kids worth the effort? Think about your specific kids. Their backgrounds. Their needs. Their strengths. Their challenges.

Ask yourself this: In light of my responses to the questions above, which available curriculum will best meet the needs of my kids during the upcoming ministry season? Narrow the options down to a few of the best, and get together with your team to make a final decision. Then, launch into planning how you will cause the kids to grow in Jesus under your thoughtful, prayerful guidance.

Glen Woods is a part-time, bi-vocational children's pastor at Portland Open Bible Church in Portland , Oregon . He also visits local churches to conduct teacher training for children's ministry teams and leadership coaching for children's ministry leaders. You can visit his blog on the Web at www.glenwoods.net.

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