Children’s ministry comes with many challenges and privileges. While some might think it’s a challenge, I’ve always considered the option of choosing curriculum to be a privilege. For me, choosing curriculum (weekly Bible study, VBS, short-term discipleship, etc) is a privilege in that I get to be a part of determining a path of study that will ultimately help kids not only know about Jesus, but will help guide them to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
Unfortunately, there are some common pitfalls when it comes to making these important decisions. Being aware of these pitfalls (and avoiding them) will help prevent struggles and conflicts that may bog down your ministry.
Pitfall #1: Choosing from the Cover.
“I just love this theme.” “I think the art used on that curriculum is the best!” “That curriculum looks so inviting.” These are common statements heard often by children’s ministers when discussing curriculum options. Warning, pitfall ahead!
Yes, publishers have a responsibility to create resources that look nice but that can’t be the only deciding factor when choosing curriculum.
Avoiding this Pitfall: LOOK INSIDE! Open the cover and read through the resource. Yes, it’s going to take some time (of which we all need more) but schedule the time it takes to determine if the curriculum “lives up” to the cover.
Pitfall #2: “They” Chose It, It Must be Good!
If you’ve ever been around a group of children’s ministers then you’ve probably noticed that it doesn’t take long for the conversation to move quickly to curriculum. We’re all very interested in what the “other guy” is doing but don’t allow that influence to determine what curriculum you use in your ministry.
Avoiding this Pitfall: While the recommendation of trusted friends can be valuable, understand that every ministry is unique and just because it works for them, doesn’t mean it will work for you.
Pitfall #3: Easy Equals Best.
One of the most common pitfalls when choosing curriculum is equating easy to best. Ease of use is important, after all, we don’t want to invest in resources that volunteers won’t or can’t use, but just because it’s easy doesn’t mean it’s good.
Avoiding this Pitfall: Train your teachers on best practices of teaching. Help leaders to understand characteristics of kids and how God created them to learn. Knowledge breeds understanding and understanding promotes good teaching.
Pitfall #4: Lone Ranger Choices.
A choice needs to be made; I’m the children’s minister, done! All, too often we fail to include others in decisions that affect many.
Avoiding this Pitfall: Gather a small group of trusted, seasoned, and influential leaders who can speak into this important decision. Recognizing that you ultimately make the decision, including representation from your leadership team can prove wise and beneficial.
Pitfall #5: Free is Fine Mentality!
Budgets are tight and curriculum can be costly but you might want to consider the old adage, “You get what you pay for.” Yes, there are some good resources out there that are free, but there are also some free options that are worth every cent you pay. If curriculum truly does have a big influence over your ministry, it’s worth the investment.
Avoiding this Pitfall: Don’t let cost be the only deciding factor. It’s an investment that pays off for eternity. Don’t rely on sampler packs to piece together curriculum. Develop a plan for ministry by choosing a curriculum with a plan.
Bill Emeott serves as Lead Ministry Specialist for Lifeway Kids. A graduate of Mercer University and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Bill has served as a Kid’s Minister and currently teaches 2nd Grade Bible study.