How to Choose a Curriculum? The Most Important Question No One Asks

Article February 21, 2023

We get this question a lot: “How do I choose a Children’s Ministry Curriculum?

It’s an important question. As someone who has worked in the world of children’s ministry curriculum for the past couple of decades, my opinion is that although we tend to ask good questions, we are missing the most important question. When we start looking for a children’s ministry curriculum, we tend to ask publishers questions like: “Is it Bible-based?” or “Can I see your scope and sequence?” or “Tell me about the media,” and even, “Is it easy to implement?” Again, all very good questions and ones we should keep asking. Because if we dug underneath them, we’d find the question we are really asking is, “Will this curriculum truly help us make child disciples?”

The challenges we are facing at this moment in time are that the world has changed so rapidly over the past decade and cultural formation is having a significant impact on our kids. In this new post-Christian environment there’s a question almost no one is asking the publisher but should ask, and it’s this:

Can you show me an impact study on the effectiveness of your curriculum?

Now, to be fair, if you don’t work inside a particular niche, you don’t always know what questions to ask. By asking about the effectiveness of the curriculum, you will get to the heart of A) What sort of evaluation have you conducted? and B) How do we know the curriculum works?

Here’s why I think this question is more important now than ever. We live in a post-Christian, highly secularized world that’s rapidly forming our kids in the image of hyper-individualists. We need resources and ministries faithful to the Bible and effective at child discipleship. The fruitfulness and stewardship of our ministry to children are at stake, and are more important now than ever. As Americans, we are in love with the flashy, the cool, the easy, and the latest and greatest. But 20 years from now, those will not matter. We will not be thinking how our “cool Christianity” helped us make resilient disciples. What will matter is, “Did we form our children to become disciples whose faith stood the test of time?”

By asking a publisher or a ministry to see their impact study you can follow that question up with other important questions such as, “So how do you measure success as an organization?” or “What are the chief goals of your curriculum? And how do you know if you are hitting those goals?”

We are not living in 1997 anymore (although there are days when I long for the simplicity of a past era). So our questions must change. Keep asking all of the same basic questions you have always asked as you evaluate a curriculum, but our post-Christian moment calls for a deeper level of rigor. The future of our children demands it. I believe that by asking more rigorous questions to children’s ministry organizations, we have a greater probability of forming resilient child disciples who will bend and flex but not break under the weight of culture, kids whose faith will shine like stars in a warped and crooked generation.

Want more info on how to select a children’s ministry curriculum? Check out a special episode of our podcast in which Melanie Hester and I discuss this in more detail. Want a copy of the Awana 2021 Impact Study? I thought you’d never ask; please check it out!

What question do you think is most important? We value your feedback. As always, let us hear from you!