Why we wrote our own curriculum?

I want to start this post by saying I do not know everthing there is about curriculum production, and I in no way am thinking of one curriculum company as I write this post. My goal in this post is to hopefully create a diolog, or even to get us as children’s pastors to ask hard questions of ourselves and of the curriculum we give our teams to teach our kids each week. I personally believe that there is some problems that are systemic in the children’s ministry curriculum arena. I have been a kids pastor full time for nearly 14 years and have used every curriculum under the sun. Here are some of the problems that lead to a few of my fellow kids pastors and I writing our own curriculum for Easter.
1. Kids curriculum typically falls in two camps. Fun or Biblically accurate  – rarely does a curriculum do both well. – This to me is very said because it says that the things we are using to teach our kids this precious hour we are given each week are not engaging nor are they transformational. The end result is a watered down weak, uninspiring introduction to the most engaging transformational person in human history.
2. Too safe – I sadly get the feeling that most curriculum is made way to safe so it appeals to every type of church in America. – The problem I have with this is not that people are trying to make money selling curriculum it’s that they are leaving out some really important stuff to broaden their appeal. For example there is rarely a mention of the Holy Spirit in any kids curriculum  out there. I know there are some abuses in peoples Theology when it comes to the Holy Spirit but he is the third person of the God head. There are definitely some things we can teach kids about the Holy Spirit without delving into strangeness. Other topics I think need to be addressed more to our kids and they arn’t, Jesus in the Old Testament, What is the Gospel, Communion, Baptism are a just a few. My opinion is that if the things you are writing or teaching don’t offend anyone they probably are not Biblically accurate. Jesus offended others with the truth all the time.
3. Scalability – it seems that most people who write curriculum are not from a local church and even though people on staff used to be kids pastors time makes you forget.  There is something about understanding what actives would work best in a class setting in a small church and a large church. Great super creative activities play out differently in a brainstorming session than they do in a room full of 2 year olds.
4. Lack of a Pastor Perspective. –  I am not a professional educator. I have crazy amounts of respect for people who are and routinely ask for their wisdom I would be crazy not to. There is however something to be said for the perspective of someone whose gift is the pastoring of people. This is one of the main reasons people write their own curriculum, and quite honestly the vary people who recognize this problem are typically not the most gifted at writing curriculum. There needs to be better dialog between pastors and writers they need each others perspective to be better at what they individually do best.
5. Lack of Christ centeredness – I think most curriculum tries to be everything to everyone the end result is the gospel message is not clearly communicated. As much as curriculums out there talk about Jesus I am not sure if they communicate the message of Christ clearly enough. If kids know all about the bible but don’t understand the Gospel we have lost a huge opportunity.
6. Moralism – In our quest to teach kids concreate ideas about faith with application,we have to be very careful not to make point of the story about Jesus and not about us. I don’t want my kids to be kind. I want my kids to understand that because of what Christ did for me I am empowered to love beyond my capacity. I want every kid who leaves uptown to understand The Gospel because in my opinion we are seeing kids leave the faith because they never understand what the gospel is. The gospel is compelling. The last thing any of us want to produce is “good kids” because good kids don’t make a difference in this world Christ centered Gospel empowered kids do.

In closing I just want to say that I in no way mean to offend anyone but if you are offended my beef is not with you per se. My goal is to create a dialog for us to ask hard questions so our kids can benefit and Christ can be magnified. I am not selling anything or pushing a particular product. Lastly don’t just complain do something about it be part of a the solution not just apart of the problem. What I am suggesting is whatever you use make it better and push the people who make what you use to make it better because it’s not about you and me it’s about the kids who listen every week to the greatest story ever.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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28 thoughts on “Why we wrote our own curriculum?

  1. Love this.. and I have to agree! I'm in my first few years of Children's Ministry and just cant seem to find the RIGHT Curriculum. To me most of them aren't teaching some of the basics (Communion, baptism, others that you said). I have tried some that is so boring its hard to keep the Children's attention and then some that is so fun that I feel like they left and just had fun but didn't learn a thing! I have gotten to where I write alot of it but since I'm in Bible College time doesn't always allow! I do however cut some stuff out of the curriculum I purchased and write in our own stuff.. It's going pretty well. Just wish I could find a curriculum that was fun yet the kids learned. Thanks for your post:)

  2. Sam,

    This is an awesome post. I'm right there with you. I think teaching moral lesson is "easier" than discipling kids in being Christ-centered and represents an alarming trend. Fortunately, I see some push back against that approach, but I don't think the push is nearly hard enough. Thanks for starting this discussion. It is definitely one that needs to be had!

    • Thanks Wayne for your comment and encouragement. I think if we all keep pushing the end result will be a better curriculum for our kids.

  3. Sam,
    Don't fall over but I work for a publishing company and I agree with you. I could give you the reasons for much of what I see and where we fall but in short I agree. I have been following your blog for some time and believe in you, what you do… As you can imagine this one really struck a note with me. My work isn't producing curriculum but I do work in the childrens area of our company. Would love to meet you sometime and talk more about what you are doing. Shoot me an email sometime.

  4. Such a great post. Love the good kids and I've talked to multiple parents about this very thing in the last few weeks.

    I wonder what it would take for someone to take such a risk to write a curriculum like that? I've also pondered the idea of regional curriculum companies.

    Newspring is near our church and I always wonder what it would be like for churches to combine resources to outsource curriculum production. Might be dumb, who knows.

    • Thanks Jc. I don't think writing a curriculum like this would be risky. There is enough people out there looking for something that isn't there if someone stepped up I think it would do really well.

  5. Sam- I love how eloquently you have expressed what I know so many of us think about and struggle with week to week, but just keep going because Sunday is coming and we've got church. I look forward to following this conversation and ultimately being a part of the solution 🙂

    • Andrea,

      Thanks for the comment. I agree the sunday after sunday wave of responsibility leaves little time to wish, dream and look for what isn't there or is but is unknown to us. Thanks for adding to the conversation.

  6. Love this.. and I have to agree! I'm in my first few years of Children's Ministry and just cant seem to find the RIGHT Curriculum. To me most of them aren't teaching some of the basics (Communion, baptism, others that you said). I have tried some that is so boring its hard to keep the Children's attention and then some that is so fun that I feel like they left and just had fun but didn't learn a thing! I have gotten to where I write alot of it but since I'm in Bible College time doesn't always allow! I do however cut some stuff out of the curriculum I purchased and write in our own stuff.. It's going pretty well. Just wish I could find a curriculum that was fun yet the kids learned. Thanks for your post:)

  7. Sam,

    This is an awesome post. I'm right there with you. I think teaching moral lesson is "easier" than discipling kids in being Christ-centered and represents an alarming trend. Fortunately, I see some push back against that approach, but I don't think the push is nearly hard enough. Thanks for starting this discussion. It is definitely one that needs to be had!

    • Thanks Wayne for your comment and encouragement. I think if we all keep pushing the end result will be a better curriculum for our kids.

  8. Sam,
    Don't fall over but I work for a publishing company and I agree with you. I could give you the reasons for much of what I see and where we fall but in short I agree. I have been following your blog for some time and believe in you, what you do… As you can imagine this one really struck a note with me. My work isn't producing curriculum but I do work in the childrens area of our company. Would love to meet you sometime and talk more about what you are doing. Shoot me an email sometime.

  9. Such a great post. Love the good kids and I've talked to multiple parents about this very thing in the last few weeks.

    I wonder what it would take for someone to take such a risk to write a curriculum like that? I've also pondered the idea of regional curriculum companies.

    Newspring is near our church and I always wonder what it would be like for churches to combine resources to outsource curriculum production. Might be dumb, who knows.

    • Thanks Jc. I don't think writing a curriculum like this would be risky. There is enough people out there looking for something that isn't there if someone stepped up I think it would do really well.

  10. Sam- I love how eloquently you have expressed what I know so many of us think about and struggle with week to week, but just keep going because Sunday is coming and we've got church. I look forward to following this conversation and ultimately being a part of the solution 🙂

    • Andrea,

      Thanks for the comment. I agree the sunday after sunday wave of responsibility leaves little time to wish, dream and look for what isn't there or is but is unknown to us. Thanks for adding to the conversation.

  11. Love it Sam! We write our own too but use other curriculum in between so that we can catch up – not quite at a place where we can maintain a great standard while just doing our own.

    Every year there are 3 or 4 topics that are really important to our church, I like to major on writing those ones for our kids, then fill in the gaps with the genius of 4 and Big 🙂

  12. Love it Sam! We write our own too but use other curriculum in between so that we can catch up – not quite at a place where we can maintain a great standard while just doing our own.

    Every year there are 3 or 4 topics that are really important to our church, I like to major on writing those ones for our kids, then fill in the gaps with the genius of 4 and Big 🙂

  13. Thank you for this post! I teach once a month at my church and refuse to teach another lesson on "being kind to others", when the kids have heard it all before and when there are such richer and deeper lessons to learn. I'm excited to see others are thinking in the same direction. Thanks for making your work available to the children's ministry community!
    God bless

  14. Thank you for this post! I teach once a month at my church and refuse to teach another lesson on "being kind to others", when the kids have heard it all before and when there are such richer and deeper lessons to learn. I'm excited to see others are thinking in the same direction. Thanks for making your work available to the children's ministry community!
    God bless

  15. Hi Sam,

    I’ve 100% with you on this curriculum issue. Our solution is to buy a curriculum, and heavily edit/add to it, but every year we ask ourselves, at what point is the 6 hours/week “editing” worth transitioning to just writing it all ourselves. This year it looks like we’ll get the push that we need to start writing our own from a church-wide strategy that’s being implemented. I’m excited but nervous. I have a team of really gifted individuals (creative, graphic designers, talented writers, etc.) but we haven’t figured out a good way to work together in writing curriculum other than just assigning weeks to different people. I’ve been researching this, but other than scary warnings NOT to delve into writing your own, it seems that the children’s pastor is usually the one writing it all. Is there a model for team-developed curriculum? Any tips on working with a volunteer team to develop your own stuff?

    Kirsten

    • It’s a lot of work. The problem you will probably run into with a volunteer team is consistency in time and content. The best model for team developed curriculum by a kids church team would be either Hillsong or Elevate. Best of luck I would love to see anything you come up with.