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Choosing Curriculum
By: Dick Gruber

One task of the children’s pastor or leader is to choose the right curriculum for their church. This is what we want to explore in this article. First, let’s make the purpose of curriculum clear.

It provides a pattern for the systematic study of God’s word and its application. If followed, students will learn Bible stories, scripture facts, and application of the same for everyday living.

Lois Lebar wrote, “If we provide small children frequent opportunities to say, “yes” to Christ in accordance with their limited comprehension of Him, we shall never err by hindering them from coming to the Savior, nor by being responsible for their making a mere profession before the Spirit has prepared the heart. We shall never be guilty of going to either extreme if we give our groups of children numerous occasions to confess their love of Christ, and then deal individually with those who seek salvation, a miracle which happens once for all time and eternity.”

Lawrence Richards wrote, “The real challenge in ministry with boys and girls is to provide that context in which the first step can be taken…and then a whole lifetime of growth be supported.”

Good curriculum, if followed, will encourage students regularly to make Jesus their personal Lord and Savior and to grow in Him. This is a key factor in the salvation and discipleship of our children.

With that said, curriculum is a recipe card. You are the master’s chef. No curriculum is complete, for every church in every village has its own distinctive personality. It is impossible for one curriculum to provide all for all.

So, what are some considerations when evaluating and selecting curriculum?

Doctrinal Purity
Look to your denominational curriculum first, then others. It is important for children to get a proper foundation in what we believe.

We live in a time where cost is a factor in choice. Budget is a reality that every children’s leader must work with. Some children’s church curriculums are just too expensive. Certainly, it is nice to have all the bells and whistles, but, in reality, how much of that do you use every week? If you are like me, you adapt any curriculum you purchase to meet the needs of your own children.

Is it going to provide support to the kids in and beyond the classroom? What is included or available for the kids? Does it have take-home papers, worksheets, quiz games, and/or bulletin layouts?

All things being equal, I then look at teacher friendliness. Is it easy to use? I don’t mean if a teacher can use it without preparation. Can it be easily followed through the lesson time? Is it logical? Does it include everything required for a successful class/service?

Long-Term Goals
Does the curriculum suggest or lay out long-term objectives for the service/class? What will the child be like if this curriculum is used for a year, two years, or more? Will it provide ongoing growth, reinforcement of biblical concepts, repetition of major stories and their themes? Some companies have published a scope and sequence chart giving you that kind of information.

Don’t get caught up in fad curriculums at the expense of your children. After all, children’s ministry is about the kids, with the kids, and for the kids. Now, more than ever before, substance is of the upmost importance. Many churches have done away with any semblance of Sunday school, so the curriculum choice for children’s church will determine the doctrinal foundation laid in the child’s life.

Make this choice a matter of prayer. Think about, pray about it, and then select what will best meet the needs of the children you serve.

When I was a young married guy working construction, my boss would occasionally come by, grab my hammer, and pound a couple of nails. He would pause, look at the hammer and then me, and state, “It’s not the hammer.”

Curriculum is a tool. When used properly, it can yield great results. Take care in choosing the curriculum that is right for your children, for your church, for this time.

Dick Gruber is the children’s ministries specialist at Valley Forge Christian College. Visit him on the Web at www.dickgruber.com.

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