As a church leader, you know that children are the future of your congregation, but they are also the church of today. Every church’s children’s program is responsible for raising up the next generation of believers and teaching them Scriptural truths.
So, whether you’re looking to bring children into your church or foster a positive experience for those who already attend, the right kids’ ministry curriculum can help you engage and inspire. Let’s explore five things to look for when choosing a curriculum.
1. An Aligned Message
The theological guideposts of the curriculum you choose should first align with your ministry’s beliefs. After all, if teaching materials conflict with the core beliefs of your church, they won’t be good resources for instructing your children in truth.
As you research different curriculum options, check to make sure each one aligns with your:
- Mission: Think ahead to the impact of your kids’ ministry curriculum. Does it align with your church’s mission statement? For example, if your church places special focus on serving others, choose a children’s curriculum that enforces relevant values, such as loving your neighbor. And if your mission statement needs to be reevaluated now would be a great time to do just that!
- Audience: Although every child is different, your curriculum should communicate the truth of the Gospel in a way that they can grasp and fully understand. For example, is your curriculum inclusive? Does it offer opportunities for those with varying abilities to be part of your community? It’s important to make sure every child in your church feels seen, loved, and welcomed.
- Vision: What does your church envision for the future? How will God work through your congregation? The kids’ ministry curriculum you choose should align with your plans for the future and your principles for taking action. For example, a church fundraiser might fund your children’s program and your curriculum could prepare kids’ hearts for the event by discussing the importance of generosity.
For more insight, consider asking parents for their feedback on the important lessons that should be taught. Dive into prayer and Scripture to make sure the things that are important to God line up with the curriculum you choose.
2. Age-Appropriate Lessons
The kids in your children’s program are different in many ways, but their age differences play a significant role in the ways they learn.
To succeed as a ministry leader, you must choose teaching materials that are age-appropriate so that every child is given a fair opportunity to learn.
Look for a curriculum that provides age-appropriate lessons, varying in:
- Reading level: Some kids are ready to read a Bible passage and apply it while others aren’t old enough to read yet. Your curriculum should teach the Bible to kids of different reading abilities, whether that’s by teaching them how to interpret it or teaching them about its contents without requiring them to read.
- Question depth: Conversations with kids vary depending on their understanding of a topic and ability to engage in a conversation about it. The curriculum you choose should ask questions and facilitate conversations that appropriately resonate with different age groups.
- Activity type: Crafts, games, and other activities will appeal to different age groups. For example, preschoolers may enjoy a simple coloring sheet while fifth graders would be more interested in a word search. Look for a curriculum that offers engaging activities for various age groups.
Although your curriculum should appeal to your target age group, you can always supplement its materials with fun resources of your own!
For example, to supplement a lesson about the importance of encouraging fellow believers, you might have your fifth graders create digital holiday cards at the end of the year for someone in their lives, reminding them of the gift of Jesus’ coming in the Christmas season.
3. Biblical Foundation
Your ministry should aim to point kids back to one source of truth: the Bible. As a result, the children’s ministry curriculum you use should support Scripture at the center.
According to Wonder Ink’s guide to Bible curriculum, there are several ways you can identify curriculum with a biblical basis:
- Biblically-rooted core values: The curriculum should point kids back to the Bible at every turn. Lessons should be completely rooted in Scripture and the main takeaways should be solid, Biblical truths.
- Gospel-centric priorities: More than fun games and engaging activities, the curriculum should emphasize the bigger picture of God’s will for each child in your kids’ ministry.
- Supplemental structure: Does the curriculum rely on its own questions and reading materials to guide kids through each lesson, or does it prioritize getting into the Bible? A Biblically-based curriculum supports Bible reading instead of replacing it.
By enforcing these values early, your church will give kids the foundation they need to grow in faith outside of Sunday. Plus, you can be confident that you’re investing in a reliable curriculum when you know that it’s scripturally sound.
4. Practical Application
Kids’ ministry curriculum is an important tool for the Sunday school classroom, but how does it impact them after they leave your church building? Consider how the curriculum encourages children to practically apply the lessons to their everyday lives.
To encourage opportunities for application, invite kids to events outside of your traditional teaching meetings, such as a weekend game of dodgeball. This allows you to engage kids in the church environment so they can apply lessons from the curriculum to social situations with their peers.
When looking for children’s ministry curriculum, you’ll find that many resources are well-organized and structured to simplify teaching. But your children’s group has its own unique needs, and sometimes you’ll reach kids best by going off-script.
That’s why flexibility is an important factor to consider when researching kids’ ministry curriculum choices. Look for a curriculum that allows you to adjust:
- Media, such as videos and music
- Time, by removing certain elements from the lesson
- Content, such as adapting games or lessons
By adjusting lessons to more specifically meet the needs of the kids in your church, you’ll present messages that truly resonate with and impact them. As a result, your children’s ministry will better prepare the next generation for a deeper faith and desire to learn Scripture.
As you narrow down your search for a kids’ ministry curriculum, look for these five components, pray with your team, and rely on God to lead you!