As a children’s ministry leader, one of the most important parts of keeping ministry running smoothly every week is a solid and strong curriculum. One that’s easy to use, Bible focused, fun, engaging for kids, easy for volunteers to prep and teach, and age appropriate.
I know how time-consuming it is to spend hours each week coming up with lessons and games, making prep and supply lists, writing small group questions, searching for videos and worship songs, choosing coloring pages, etc. As a children’s ministry leader, I spent years doing this and running myself ragged every week when I realized, as soon as I finished one Sunday’s lesson … the next Sunday would soon be here, and it was scramble time again!
The Value of Your Time
After years of feeling worn down from coming up with my own lessons, I realized my time as a children’s ministry leader is best spent doing something only I could do in my ministry: investing in people.
I discovered freedom and joy in purchasing an already-done curriculum that is customizable and includes way more than I could ever have created on my own. I started spending my time pouring into my leaders and building my teams and loving the kids and families in my ministry. And my children’s ministry began to thrive!
Once you have assessed, compared, and evaluated curriculum to choose the one that is the best fit for your church, it’s time to implement the curriculum. Keep in mind that there is no perfect curriculum.
Every curriculum will need to be tweaked at least a little to fit your kids and your context. As you’re tweaking and customizing, you’ll need to ensure your team is prepared. Even when you have the best children’s ministry curriculum in the entire world, if your teachers aren’t prepared and trained to engage kids, it won’t be as effective as you want it to be.
6 Strategic Steps
These are six key steps for implementing a new curriculum in your children’s ministry:
- Get Buy-in from Leaders and Volunteers
- Prepare Your Team
- Plan Your Year
- Involve Parents
- Cast Vision
- Get Feedback
An important part of the process is asking the Holy Spirit to lead and guide you throughout the process of choosing and implementing the new curriculum.
Get Buy-In from Leaders and Volunteers
Talk with your leaders and supervisors as well as your volunteers and children’s ministry team leaders about the new curriculum. Show them samples and the scope and sequence. Ask for feedback and invite their questions.
What are the kids in your ministry lacking? What can this curriculum help address and add to the children’s ministry? Does it include age-appropriate materials for the ages your ministry serves?
What is your demographic and your target? Do you have mostly unchurched kids in your ministry? Are the kids biblically literate? Are your teachers consistent or rotating? Do you have a Sunday school model or classroom model, rotating model, large group model, or all the ages together in one room?
What does the curriculum cost? In addition to weekly lessons, are there extra costs for parent resources, worship resources, weekly supplies, printing, website licenses, extra materials, or extra age group subscription costs?
How does this curriculum align with your church’s theology and spiritual teaching values?
Scope and Sequence
The scope and sequence is the plan—typically a multi-year plan—that lays the point of each lesson and when it is taught. Ask for the full scope and sequence from the curriculum and evaluate it for your needs.
- How many years does it include?
- Is it comprehensive—does it cover all the major Bible stories?
- Does it follow a chronological or topical order?
- Is it series-based?
- Does it include Bible stories for the major holidays (Christmas and Easter), or will you have to come up with something on your own?
- Are the Bible stories and main points age appropriate?
- Does the curriculum fit with the flow of your teaching calendar and seasonal calendar?
- Does it cover all of the age groups included in your children’s ministry? Are the age groups learning the same Bible stories?
Values and Vision
Does the curriculum align with your church’s values, mission, and vision? Does it help the kids in your ministry grow in their faith?
Does the curriculum provide a way for your church to partner with parents and equip them as spiritual leaders?
Does the curriculum help you train and equip your volunteers? Is it simple to prepare and handoff to volunteers? Do the volunteers like the curriculum? Will they be able to access it and use it to teach?
Customization and Extras
Is the curriculum customizable and editable so it can work easily in your ministry? Does it work for what you need it for? Are there extra features or events included that can be used in your ministry? Does it include social media assets? Videos? Worship?
Once you’ve talked through the details of the curriculum, look through the sample lessons with your leaders who will be using the curriculum. Listen to their feedback. If the curriculum involves an online portal, ensure they are comfortable with it and answer any questions they may have.
When your leaders and children’s ministry team are committed and excited, the transition to the new curriculum will go much more smoothly!
Prepare Your Team
Plan a meeting (food is always good, if possible!) for your children’s ministry volunteer team to introduce them to the curriculum. Start by introducing the philosophy and values of the curriculum and how it fits with the mission and values of your church and children’s ministry.
If your curriculum offers volunteer training resources, videos, or how-to tutorials, utilize these in this meeting.
If your curriculum is flexible, customizable, and adaptable, you’ll be able to easily tweak it to fit your church and your kids. Empower your volunteers and teachers to adapt it even more to add their own personal touch. Encourage them to look over the curriculum ahead of time when it’s their week to lead, instead of right before the service (or even reading it as they go!).
Let them know the process for accessing the curriculum and the supplies each week (Will they be in charge of securing their own supplies or will you provide them? Is there a fully stocked supply room with a list of every item available? Will they have a pre-prepped basket each week in the volunteer room?). If they need to request supplies ahead of time, consider implementing a formal process for requesting supplies with a certain amount of notice before the supplies are needed.
You could even have a mock run-through using the curriculum, with some of the leaders acting as students and others leading. This will help your volunteers feel comfortable using and teaching the curriculum.
Ensure they know how to access and use the curriculum and prepare a volunteer schedule so they can see their assigned dates to lead ahead of time.
Plan Your Year
Once your leadership team is on board and your team is trained and prepared, make a schedule for the entire ministry calendar year. Decide the date you will begin using the curriculum. Then plan your weekend services as much in advance as you can, according to the curriculum you’ve chosen. Are there themes or series involved in the curriculum? Will you need to order supplies, decorate, or promote anything in advance?
Plan the special events you’ll do that year and choose the curriculum or theme you will use for them in advance.
Look for the holidays this year that fall on a weekend service and decide how you will work those into your curriculum. Does the curriculum offer holiday lessons or series? Will you plan a “family service” for those dates?
Look to see if your curriculum provides resources for special events in addition to weekend services. When your ministry is planned, you can begin to prepare and promote. Then you can help your church get excited for what’s coming!
Communicate with parents and let them know what curriculum you’re using and how it will involve them. Ask for their input. Make a plan for how you will share the Bible stories with them and equip them to disciple their kids at home. Invite them to be a part of the ministry.
You can offer a parent meet-up or breakfast to announce and go through the curriculum with them.
Once you’ve communicated with leaders and volunteers, planned your year, and involved parents, don’t neglect vision casting for the new curriculum and for your children’s ministry.
This is a crucial step for starting a new curriculum: reminding your church of the “why” and the value of children’s ministry. Children’s ministry is not just for teaching kids facts or keeping them occupied. It’s about helping them form a faith identity that is rooted in Scripture and allowing them to connect with God and ask big questions.
Children’s ministry curriculum should do more than entertain. It should help kids live out the gospel with an active faith and help them grow as disciples. It should be life transformational, age appropriate, and relevant so kids feel valued.
Communicate the vision and value for transformational children’s ministry clearly and often! Share stories of life change and celebrate how God is working in your children’s ministry.
It’s important to ask for feedback and listen to your team. After you start using the new curriculum, make it easy for parents and volunteers to provide feedback. You can use an email evaluation to ask for feedback. You can also offer a box with cards they can turn in at any time. Find out what’s working well, what needs to be fixed, and what isn’t working.
The right curriculum will help you do wonderful things. Then you can do the real work of ministry—investing in the people you serve. The right curriculum will help you maximize your time and empower you to invest in people over curriculum prep. And when you do all of this, you make space for God to work in the lives of kids and families, and you’ll experience Him work in great ways!