Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Sunday School Curriculum Reviews - How to Find Your Best Curriculum "Fit"

Once again, during the month of May I'll be focusing on Sunday School curriculum reviews. I like reviewing curriculum in the Spring so you can make your decision about which curriculum is your best fit by the beginning of the Summer. This allows you to have time to fully train your volunteers so when the Fall begins they are ready to use the new material! With this in mind, today I want to talk about how to find your best curriculum "fit". 

There are many curriculum options available on the market, so how do you find the best curriculum “fit” for your church; and once you determine your best “fit”, how do you know when or even if you should ever make a change?  

Too often we base our curriculum choices on familiarity, marketing and even tradition rather than the carefully thought through and prayerfully considered vision and purpose for our children’s ministry. When we make our curriculum choices based on “familiarity” or marketing, we end up changing curriculum so often the children in our ministry never receive a complete understanding of God’s Word, as no one scope and sequence is completed. When we choose our curriculum based on tradition, we may find ourselves utilizing a teaching model no longer as effective, resulting in our children not really understanding or living God’s Word. Consider the following components to help you find your best "fit" . . . 
  • We need to carefully and prayerfully think through the vision and purpose for our children’s ministry and then select a curriculum which provides the best tools for us to genuinely engage our children for truly changes lives! We want our children’s lives to be genuinely changed by God’s Word – this is why we need a written vision and purpose for our children’s ministry and why we need to evaluate and choose curriculum based only on our vision and purpose!
  • If you do not have a vision/purpose it is difficult to measure how you are doing and if you are truly effective in your ministry. You may want to ask other churches in your community or denomination what their vision/purposes are, but while they may get you thinking, understand your vision/purpose needs to reflect your ministry, not someone else’s ministry.
  • What do you want to accomplish in your children’s ministry?  The vision for your children’s ministry should reflect the vision of your church as a whole with a specific focus on your children’s ministry.  For example, one church I used to attend had their church’s vision as – “To be a healthy spiritual community marked by uncompromising love for Jesus Christ, caring commitment to each other and bold compassion for those who don’t yet share Christ’s life.”  Our children’s ministry vision was - “To be a healthy community marked by uncompromising love for and commitment to children, families and Christ!”  Your vision may be similar or completely different, but it should reflect your church’s heart and how your children's ministry "fits" in this vision. 
  • Remember, teaching aims and the vision for your ministry are not the same thing.  It may be a teaching aim for you to help your kids memorize Scripture, but your ministry vision should reflect what you want to see your children’s ministry accomplish.
  • Your purpose helps you answer the question, “Why do we have a children’s ministry?” Anyone can provide a babysitting service for kids, but a children’s ministry is much more than simply providing child care.  What is the purpose for your children‘s ministry?  As you develop your purpose keep in mind the purpose God has for PARENTS - read Deuteronomy 6:1-9 and Psalm 78:1-8.  As the church, we must be careful so we do not replace parents. My old church had a purpose for the children’s ministry - “To support families in discipling their children as they grow to love God and serve Him with their lives." Your purpose may be similar, or completely different, but it should explain how you will accomplish your vision for your children’s ministry.  For example, my old church’s vision for the children’s ministry was to be a – “healthy community marked by uncompromising commitment to children, families and Christ.”   We were able to become such a community by, “supporting families as they disciple their children to love God and serve Him with their lives.”
Before you begin looking for your best curriculum "fit", take the time to be sure you know your children's ministry vision and purpose . . . it really does make a difference in finding your best curriculum "fit"! Tomorrow I'll talk about the different "types" of curriculum.

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