With So Many Children's Ministry Curriculum Options, How Do You Decide?
Below, you'll find a list of several important questions to consider when looking for a new Kids Church Curriculum. But, if you're not really into the whole "reading" thing and would rather just see a list of some awesome places to find new Children's Ministry Curriculum click here!
How Do You Pick A Kids Church Curriculum?
It goes without saying that a curriculum MUST have solid Biblical teaching. But another, maybe less obvious thing to keep in mind when you begin thinking about what curriculum you should use in your Children's Ministry is that Jesus never used a curriculum. Jesus' ministry was built on relationships. The reason that that is important to remember is that your ability to form relationships with kids and families in your ministry will always trump the curriculum you choose to use.
So while there are certainly a lot of good things to consider when choosing a curriculum, a way to simplify that decision is to just ask "will this curriculum make it easier for me to form relationships with kids and families?" If the answer is "yes" or "maybe" then that's probably a curriculum that's worth looking into a little more. But if you can easily say "no" to that question, then no matter what other benefits there may be, it's probably good to move on from that curriculum.
Some possible factors that could help you answer that question:
-Price: Will the cost of the curriculum strain your budget to the point that you may have to cut some potential relationship-building events?
-Ease Of Use: Are the lessons easy for you and your volunteers to prepare for quickly or will you have to spend additional time in lesson prep that could be better spent elsewhere?
-Fun: Is the curriculum fun? Not just for the kids, but for you and your volunteers? If you're not able to fun planning and teaching the lessons, it's going to be hard for the kids to have fun when they hear it. And having fun is a key aspect of building relationships with the kids in your ministry.
-Less Isn't Always More: Sometimes the cheap or free option may work great with your budget, but don't forget the value of your time. If a curriculum is saving you dollars, but costing you extra time in prep and editing then you may actually be "spending" more.
-More Isn't Always More: By the same token, if you're paying top dollar for a curriculum that has so many options you find yourself struggling to figure out what to use each week, then you may want to consider a simpler alternative.
How Do You Plan Your Children's Ministry Lessons?
Most curriculum providers will offer some sort of Scope & Sequence to give you a quarterly or annual plan to follow. For instance, Children's Ministry Deals offers 52-Week Curriculum Bundles so you can easily get an entire year of lessons planned out for you.
As mentioned early though, the plan you follow should be the one that gives you the greatest opportunity to build relationships within your ministry. Jesus himself said the greatest commandment was to love God and the second was to love your neighbor. So if you are teaching Biblical lessons each weekend and giving yourself time and mental energy to be engaged in the lives of the kids you serve then your priorities seem to be in line with Jesus' priorities.
When it comes to the specifics of planning your lessons then, there really is no one right answer. Some may prefer an annual plan that follows the calendar year, or some may prefer to plan around the school year. You may find you work better planning the year a quarter at a time. Or in other cases, you may find that you work the best planning based on the sermon schedule for big church so that the whole church is studying the same thing each week.
To Video Or Not To Video...?
I can't really remember any video I watched in kids church as a child except for Mark Lowery's "My Face In This World" video. For some reason, my Children's Pastor thought this would be a fun thing for us to watch and I still can't get those images out of my head over 20 years later! But I can still tell you the names of my 5th grade Sunday School teachers and my small group leader.
The point is, video lessons can be a useful tool. But the best video in the world will never replace a Children's Pastor or volunteer who takes the time to get to know a child's name and story. So whether you use videos, or don't, just remember that the relationships you form away from the screen are going to have the most lasting impact on the kids you get to serve.
At the end of the day whether you have 500 kids every week and an army of volunteers or you're a one-person army serving 5 kids every week the strategy is the same: relationships first. You can have the best Children's Ministry Curriculum in the whole world, but if your kids don't know that someone on your team cares about them it won't matter. Conversely, if kids know that you care about them, it doesn't matter so much if you don't have time for all of the activities, or the craft doesn't work, or the object lesson falls flat. The fact that you care about them, will help kids learn the most important lesson that we teach a child - that God cares about them and loves them very much.
"By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35 NIV
5 Great Kids Church Curriculum Options For Your Children's Ministry
1. Orange - Orange has been a leader in the Children's Ministry space for a long time. They have resources to help you from Preschool to High School. In addition to curriculum, you'll also find resources to help you connect with volunteers and parents. If you're on a tight budget, this may not be the best option for you, but it is hard to find a curriculum that provides you with more resources than Orange.
2. Go! - Go! is one of the newer Children's Ministry Curriculum providers, but they have made quite a splash with their unique and fun strategy. Go! follows a chronological study through the Bible every year and puts an emphasis on engaging kids in the telling of the Bible story.
3. Children's Ministry Deals - Children's Ministry Deals has been providing deals on Children's Ministry resources for over 10 years. Children's Ministry Deals curriculum themes are designed to be fun and use themes that kids can connect with to help tell the Bible story. You can also find the super popular 52-Week Bundle Deals which allow you to get an entire year of lessons planned for you.
4. Grow - Is a subscription-based Kids Church Curriculum provider. With Grow, you will get access to lots of video lesson content as well as have the ability to customize your lessons to fit your needs before downloading them.
5. Lifeway - I think it's safe to say Lifeway is one of the most established providers of Children's Ministry Curriculum since it was founded in 1891! Lifeway's Kids Church Curriculum is based on three essentials: Heart Transforming, Kingdom Expanding, and Culture Shaping.