Finding a children’s curriculum that nurtures kids and teaches them to love Jesus is vital for your church. Look for a curriculum that prioritizes Bible immersion, age-appropriate content, family involvement, diverse teaching methods, and ongoing evaluation.
Also, consider how the curriculum’s philosophy aligns with your church’s vision, if applicable.
Organize by Age Group
Keeping kids’ ministry organized helps with planning and scheduling. It also allows teachers to focus on what matters most: preparing a safe and engaging environment for children to learn about God and develop their relationship with Him. It’s best to organize by age group. However, combining age groups is often necessary for practical reasons (such as having enough volunteers).
Choose an age group that is most open to learning and growth. Select a children’s curriculum for small churches that incorporates activities for various learning types and emphasizes many facets of faith, such as knowledge acquisition, introspection, application to one’s life, and acts of service.
Many children’s curriculum options are geared toward particular denominations, so choosing a well-rounded one that fits your church is crucial. Look for a curriculum that emphasizes spiritual formation rather than character education; this way, the Bible is always central, and the gospel climate is pervasive throughout.
For example, the evergreen curricula from Illustrated Ministry explore collections of Bible stories or a biblical passage with “open and inclusive language, diverse imagery, and progressive theology” to guide kids’ engagement and discovery of scriptures. Their lessons include:
- Lectio Divina style meditation and open-ended questions on Scriptures.
- Multiple activity options.
- Opportunities for prayer and worship.
Another option is Gospel Project, which is an intergenerational series that focuses on Christian practices such as “Welcome All,” “Do Justice,” and “Worship God.” It’s an excellent choice for churches looking to shift away from a moralistic approach to their teaching.
Create an Engaging Environment
The kids’ ministry environment you create is just as important as the curriculum that goes into it. You want to create an engaging space for kids and a welcoming for volunteer teachers. You can use different ways to decorate your area, including bulletin boards and unique props that tie into the weekly lessons. For example, if the study is about planting and growing, you might have a garden-themed room with planters, soil, and seed packets. Or, if it is a fall lesson, you might have hay bales, cornstalks, and pumpkins. You can get creative with the decor, and the children’s volunteers will be able to build on that creativity when they are teaching the kids.
Another way to encourage engagement is to give kids ownership of their spaces. It can be accomplished by inviting them to contribute art or messages to their rooms. You can also allow them to decorate their classrooms with different colors and decor based on the theme for the week.
The evergreen curriculum explores collections of bible stories and or a passage in a common theme with “open and inclusive language, diverse imagery, and progressive theology.” This children’s ministry curriculum has 36 units that span four years and explore different Christian practices such as “Welcome All,” “Pray,” and “Do Justice.” Each unit contains 4 – 6 lessons about the procedure, with scriptures to illuminate it, activity options, coloring pages, and micro-practices that can be transformed into life-long habits for a lifetime of faith.
Create a System for Organizing Supplies
When choosing a children’s ministry curriculum, choosing one that is organized is essential. It will help ensure that supplies are where they need to be and easy for volunteers to find. A few simple tricks can make this process much more manageable. For example, consider using a labeler to organize and group items together. It will help volunteers quickly locate what they need and make the room more inviting and welcoming for kids to volunteer in.
Another thing to keep in mind is a reward system. If your church uses rewards for positive behaviors, creating a system that works for your specific children and their families is vital. It is indispensable to avoid single-outing any child, so reward systems should be designed to celebrate the entire class rather than just the students. For example, if your kids are working towards a pizza party, it is crucial to have a system that allows them to earn their reward every week instead of only some weeks.
Finally, when choosing a curriculum, keep in mind your church facilities. Many small churches have limited space, especially regarding the children’s ministry. Determining what media type is included in your lessons is also a good idea. For example, if you use video, choose a curriculum that only requires a small amount of equipment that may not work with your facilities.
When recruiting children’s ministry volunteers, share a vision of how their work ties into your church’s overall mission. Then, paint a picture of how their work can change a child’s future or a whole family’s. That will make volunteering in children’s ministry more attractive.
Another key is to keep it simple for your volunteers. Refrain from overwhelming them with curriculum requirements and training or over-expect them to have fancy crafts for each lesson. Most importantly, ensure they have what they need to do the job well. It may include a bulletin or pulpit announcement but will likely require a personal invitation. Often, people who wouldn’t respond to an ad in the bulletin will jump in with both feet when asked by someone they know.
A great children’s curriculum will engage kids in the biblical story of salvation while cultivating their lives of faith through prayer and other forms of spiritual formation. It includes weekly lessons that explore lectionary scriptures and immersion in the rhythms of liturgy, along with teaching strategies, conversation questions, activity options, coloring pages, and micro-practices to transform their lives of faith week by week.