How Not To Choose Curriculum

by Karl Bastian Church Resources, Curriculum Add comments

It’s that time of year again – you may be evaluating your curriculum and determining whether you want to make a change. Let me suggest ways you SHOULD NOT choose what curriculum to use in your children’s ministry:

Use what you have always used.

Traditions might be great at Christmas time, but using a curriculum “because you’ve always used it” is a terrible reason – unless you can explain its scope and sequence and the strategy for why it was put in place. But if it is “just there” because Moses brought it down from Mt. Sinai, or some other long gone leader who is kickin’ back with Jesus by now… it is time to re-evaluate!

Let your teachers each pick their own.

Love your teachers, support your teachers, but DO NOT let them each pick what they want to teach in their classroom. This is a formula for educational disaster! Why? Your students may end up learning about Joseph and Jesus six times to Sunday and never even find out who Moses or Abraham are! You need a comprehensive strategy for what content you want covered throughout the entire range of your educational program, so you need a curriculum strategy that encompasses all your classes.

Look at tons of samples and pick 
based on what appeals to you.

This is a popular method – but it appeals to the eyes and the company with the slickest marketing budget wins, not necessarily the company with the best materials. Slickness is not the goal, biblical content that covers the most of the Bible, while addressing as many of your educational goals as possible are your goals. So leave the samples aside until you have determined what you are looking for.

Depend on curriculum promotions.

We all want  a good deal, but the best deal is a Disciple of Jesus Christ who makes it through the snares of this world without the high cost of sin! Don’t fall for promotions – be objective enough to know what you are looking for and hunt for it. If it’s on sale, or you can find a way to get it at discount, more power to ya. If not, and it’s the best – pay top dollar for it. It’s probably worth it.

Use what some other great church uses.

If such and such church or some well know CP uses it, it must be the best, right? The best for that church, sure – but that doesn’t always translate to your church. It could be a disaster in your church, or not worth the time and effort to modify. More important than WHAT curriculum another church uses is WHY they use that curriculum. That will better lead you to WHY you should choose your curriculum.

Lay a SOLID Foundation!

Don’t under estimate the importance of the curriculum you choose.  Everything else hinges from and is built upon the foundation laid by your teaching material. How high and how deep and how broad your educational ministry will be is greatly determined by curriculum. What you TEACH your children will ultimately determine the long-term impact of your ministry.

It won’t matter how many kids you reached, how many prayers they prayed, how many prizes you awarded, how much fun they had, or how happy the parents were – the measure of your ministry is what they learned and applied to their life in the years after they left you and that is greatly determined by the curriculum you choose.

…the measure of your ministry is what they learned and applied to their life in the years after they left you and that is greatly determined by the curriculum you choose…

So how do you choose a curriculum? (I thought you’d never ask!)

  1. Determine what YOU would like to accomplish in your educational program – what are you trying to accomplish?
  2. List your educational goals – put it in writing before you ever look at publisher’s samples!
  3. List the weaknesses you see with the current material you are using.
  4. Make a list of what you are looking for and would like to see in the future. This is important so that if the curriculum you choose doesn’t have it, you know what you will need to supplement.
  5. THEN look at published materials to see if any match your criteria.
  6. Choose the one that best fits what God showed you He is asking you to accomplish with the children He has brought to you. If none of them fit, you may need to write you own.

Too many churches START by looking at curriculum assuming they have the answers, letting the curriculum determine the goals of their ministry. It is your ministry, they are your children, entrusted to your care by God – the curriculum is to serve you. Take some ownership and let the curriculum serve you, not the other way around. Have the confidence in the Holy Spirit’s ability to show you what HE wants to accomplish through you and your team in your ministry. The curriculum becomes a tool in your hand toward that goal.

Next Time: Find out why we recommend DiscipleLand Core Bible Curriculum for Sunday School and how my previous ministry went through this process, what was on our list of goals, and how DiscipleLand fit the bill.

See: Curriculum Chaos to Order (Posted one month later)



SEE ALSO: Kidology’s SPOTLIGHT on DiscipleLand (Full PDF Report by Karl)


By Karl Bastian. Disclosure of Material Connection: I write curriculum for DiscipleLand and am a board member of DiscipleLand. Regardless, I only recommend resources that I believe are beneficial for those in children’s ministry. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

One Response to “How Not To Choose Curriculum”

  1. Lane Rhoades Says:

    Thanks. We also look at who wrote the curriculum. I was so excited to see Discipleland team up with you, Karl. Because I know Discipleland’s philosophy and YOUR philosophy of children’s ministry, I knew Discipletown would be scripture based and engaging. It is and it fits all the other criteria you listed. Thanks for your work and dedication to children’s ministry.

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