Choose a curriculum that emphasizes gospel-centrality. While this might feel like a buzzword, your kids’ ministry must cultivate children’s spiritual growth. It would help if you looked for a gospel-centered curriculum incorporating life-application activities. For example, Jesus asked open-ended questions, created meaningful conversations, and even rubbed mud in the eyes of lepers.
Look for a Gospel-Centered Curriculum
When choosing children’s church curriculum, sometimes the choices can feel overwhelming. Whether you’re looking at online resources or calling around to different publishers, there are many good and bad options out there. One of the first things to look for in a winning curriculum is whether it is gospel-centered. The Bible is about Jesus, so any excellent curriculum should clarify that in every lesson. It means incorporating stories about the Bible, questions for “wondering,” a theme for exploration, activity options, coloring pages, a micro practice, and prayer.
The best children’s church curriculum should also consider how the lessons will help kids grow in their faith outside of Sunday school and whether or not it is consistent with your church’s theology and vision. Does the curriculum use a Bible translation that aligns with your church’s preferences? Are the lessons age-appropriate, and do they offer a clear gospel presentation for preschoolers and younger and older kids?
Look for a Curriculum With a Variety of Lessons
While the gospel is a crucial component of any children’s church curriculum, providing children with various lessons and activities is essential. It will help keep them engaged and able to learn more about God and Jesus. Consider your children’s learning styles as you look through the different kids’ ministry lesson plans. Some will be more auditory, while others might be more visual or hands-on learners. Try to find a curriculum that offers a variety of options to appeal to all learning styles.
Another consideration is how the lessons align with your church’s mission and theology. If the children’s church lessons contradict the beliefs and principles of your ministry, they won’t help grow your kids’ faith.
For example, if your church emphasizes service, choose a curriculum that reinforces the value of serving others. You may also look at your church’s vision and mission statement for additional guidelines for selecting the curriculum for your kids’ ministry.
Finally, the curriculum you select should match your church’s budget. Some kids’ church lesson plans are sold in kits that can be purchased one quarter at a time, while others are subscription-based and offer quarterly or annual programs. Check out these pricing models to find the best fit for your ministry’s finances.
Look for a Curriculum With a Variety of Activities
The curriculum you choose should be theologically and pedagogically sound. It should be able to be taught in your church setting without contradicting the theology and mission of your church. It should also be able to engage the children in your church and make it easy for them to understand the Biblical storyline they’re being taught.
Some curriculums will hit the high points of Scripture and move quickly from story to story. In contrast, others take a “deeper” approach, diving into critical stories and Bible characters to help kids become biblically literate and understand the Biblical narrative. Some curriculums are based on Biblical texts that have already been written, while others are created from scratch by the publisher.
Look for various activities to appeal to the age group you’re teaching, including crafts, games, and other hands-on learning opportunities. Some curriculums will also offer a range of resources to complement the lesson, such as printable coloring sheets and word searches.
Some curriculums will also include suggestions to help teachers adapt the lesson for children with special needs in their class. It can be a massive benefit if you’re working with kids with unique circumstances and is something to consider when evaluating the available curriculum options for your ministry.
Look for a Curriculum With a Variety of Resources
As you shop around for a children’s church curriculum, look at available options and take notes. Many churches offer free Sunday school lessons on their website, and some of these can be excellent ideas for your teaching ministry. Also, visit other churches and sit in on their children’s classes. Ask questions about their curriculum and try to steal some excellent teaching ideas.
Some children’s church curriculums focus on “hitting the high points” of Scripture over a short period. For instance, some children’s ministry curriculums cover Jonah and the Whale, noting that the story in Scripture doesn’t say it was a whale but rather a “great fish.” Other curricula go deeper into Scripture by teaching subjects or Bible characters over extended periods. Still, others follow a chronological approach and guide through the entire Bible in a three-year curriculum cycle.
The curriculum you choose must fit your ministry philosophy and the overall vision of your church. For example, if your church is focused on ministry to families, ensure that the curriculum you choose undergirds this priority. Some curriculums do this through activities, discussion questions, and a greater emphasis on family participation. Other children’s church curriculums do this by teaching kids about how they can apply their faith at home, in their friendships, and in the everyday life situations they encounter.