FAQ: Coming in as number 1, the all time most frequently asked question I am asked is, “What curriculum should I use?” This is a big question! What we will teach the kids that come through our doors, and how we will present it is a big deal! We want our program to be fun, vibrant and will impact them.
We want them to know that Jesus is King and Saviour, but we also want them to have fun while they learn. We want to have time and space to worship, but also to build relationships. So how do we decide what is best for our kids and our team?
Well first of all, let’s take a look at why this is such a big decision. When we have kids come to our ministry, we want them to have more than just a great time, and we want our program to be more than just looking great from the outside, or a ticked box for our church list of ministries. We want kids to really learn about God, and have a real relationship with Him. James 2:17 tells us that faith without works is dead. When our kids start to serve Jesus in practical ways, we can see that it has moved from head knowledge to heart-felt faith. But how do we foster this?
While many kids’ ministry curriculums are fun, vibrant and informative, we often unintentionally measure their effectiveness by how much Bible knowledge or moral conscience children demonstrate. But knowledge of how many colours in the rainbow in the story of Noah is not enough. Knowing the difference between a ‘whale’ and a ‘big fish’ in the story of Jonah is helpful, but not life-changing. Even memorising Bible verses each week is ineffective if children have no idea why they are learning them. In a world where children know that there are 10 commandments, but don’t know why God’s people were given them, and when children know that Zaccheus was short, but not that Jesus forgave his sins, faith becomes little more than head-knowledge. In that world, blessings become ‘gold stars’ that God gives to ‘good people’ and sin is something that only ‘bad people’ do. There is no need for Jesus in that world, and that is not what we desire. We want children to know Jesus, personally and authentically. We want them to experience His love in action through the relationships they build at our kid’s ministry. We want to partner with parents and show them how to lead their children day-to-day in their spiritual lives, and help them raise kids who will proclaim Jesus’ name.
So… the next step is , choosing a curriculum that meets this criteria. Not only do we want it to be fun, exciting, Gospel-based and easy to teach but I also want it to:
-Be able to engage kids from prep to upper primary
-Be flexible in how I can run this in the time I have each week
-Have easy and organisable activities (who has time for crochet crafts, really!)
-Partner with parents during the week
-Cater for groups of 2 or 200
-Not need smoke machines and lighting and scripts for 20 actors each week
-Align with my church & senior pastor’s vision
-Not blow my budget !
Enter…..The Gospel Project for Kids. It is my all time favourite curriculum to use, and after a year of using it, I can tell you WHY. Now before you start to think I must be being paid commission for advertising this product, I am not, I just love the difference I have seen in the kids and families since we started using it! I recommend this program for the following reasons:
1. It is flexible and user-friendly…
The Gospel Project can be run as a program with a big Large Group all-in-together service which then splits into smaller groups for discussion, OR you can run the lesson straight out of the book with a one group of kids. It has the option each week of reading the Bible lesson from the Bible itself, or watching it on DVD, or some weeks, yes, even acting it out! It has really simple craft and game ideas, that are fairly low-prep, and come with a list of what you’ll need for each week, as well as prayer and Bible lesson discussion topics, questions and more. It also has an option for you to buy a booklet of activity sheets if you don’t want to prepare your own activities, and they cost about $4 a child.
It is possible to run this program with one leader, or multiple teams. It includes training, has a “Teacher Bible Study” for your leader to do each week in preparation, and has both Older children (years 4-7)and Younger children (prep- year 3)versions of each lesson (NOTE: the large group part of the lesson is the same in both older and younger children lesson plans).
2. It partners with parents…
The Gospel project for kids has great resources for parents. There are digital files you can email or print out with weekly devotions prepared based on the lesson each week, and it even has an App you can download onto your phone (Android AND iPhone) with 5 days worth of family devotions that align with the lessons that are taught in the program. Putting something tangible like this into a parents’ hand gives them the resource and empowerment to be teaching the kids at home, and puts them back in the driver’s seat of their children’s spiritual lives! They can be the ones teaching them the songs you play, learning the bible verses together, teaching the Bible story and praying with them. How great is that!
3. It teaches the WHOLE Bible…
Yep that’s right! The Gospel project starts at Genesis, and takes a whopping 3 years to finish the whole Bible. It doesn’t just tell the stories of the Bible, it explains the whole reason for us needing Jesus in the first place. When kids get a picture of the WHOLE bible and how it all fits together, they cease to see it as a group of stories, and see it as a rescue plan, right from day one. It shows kids that even back in Genesis, God had a plan to rescue His people through Jesus. Each lesson has a “Christ Connection” – a link from whatever story you are telling to how Jesus fits into it, continuously pointing us to the Gospel in each story in the Bible – even the really tough ones that some curriculums skip over!
4. It won’t blow your budget!
This curriculum doesn’t have to cost the earth. You can spend as much as you like. Buy the whole lot – the dvds, songs, posters, a book for every leader, an activity book for each child and spend around $500 each unit (3 units per year) and love every minute of it! OR for smaller budgets, spend $8 on a leader guide ($16 if you want one for older kids, and one for younger kids) and run the program yourself with the one book, and simply do the activities they have in the book (there are plenty!) each week. The only other costs will be whatever you need for craft and games. (A pipecleaner here, a basketball there, maybe a fake-beard for story-telling purposes). (NOTE: remember to always check the copyright before photocopying pages out of curriculums please!)
So in closing – I will let you know that at the beginning of 2014 we started using this program, and since then, I have had leaders, parents and children tell me how much they have learnt about Jesus, and how great it has been to talk about Him in a way that is real, and how it makes a difference in their lives. But I will also remind you that it is not the curriculum alone that makes the program. It is the leaders who turn up each week ready to show the kids God’s grace and teach them the truth of His word. It is the parents who commit to building homes and families with Jesus as the center. It is the church family who support and partner with us to make children a priority. Most importantly, though, it is the Holy Spirit who does the changing of hearts each week, and we pray that we can be His hands and His feet through whatever lesson we teach – curriculum or no curriculum, the glory is His.
If you would like more information on The Gospel Project for Kids, and how it is implemented, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org . And don’t forget to take a look around at their website, there are example videos, lesson plans and more! I have included my favourite Bible story video from this year, just for a sample 🙂
Footnotes: http://www.gospelproject.com/kids/ • To purchase The Gospel Project for Kids, have a look at Koorong online, or in store. To order this program usually takes 4-6 weeks if it’s coming from overseas.
Post date: 08/01/2015 • Post Author: Sally Contessi