5 Things Small Churches Should Look For In Curriculum

5 Things Small Churches Should Look For in Sunday School Curriculum

When you help to run a small church, what should you look for in Sunday School Curriculum?

When the person responsible for purchasing curriculum is either a key volunteer, or a full-time staff member that wears 3 different hats, it can be difficult to know what curriculum to choose. There are LOTS of curriculum choices out there. So let me offer a few guiding principles as you search the world wide web for answers.

1.Pick curriculum that attracts KIDS

There’s a lot of well-meaning publishers out there that produce very bland curriculum. The way they see it, you have 52 weekends every year to teach something, so they provide 52 lessons, and number them 1-52.

While that works, no doubt (they do a lot of business after all) I find that boring. Nobody gets excited about going to church because it’s time for lesson #32! Parents and kids get excited because this week begins a new 6 week Sunday School series for kids called, The Fire Prince! Kids get excited about Sunday School when they know something crazy just might happen this week!


So choose a curriculum that features variety. After all, variety is the spice of life, and it’s what kids love.

Also – growing your kids ministry is a powerful way to grow your church as a whole. And every Pastor loves church growth.

2. Choose curriculum that attracts volunteers

There’s nothing worse than being a volunteer and getting handed a lesson on Sunday morning that is only half done.

If I’ve seen it once I’ve seen it a hundred times…the volunteer is supposed to teach for 15 minutes but there is only 5 minutes worth of content in the lesson.

Add to that, there is no consideration for the kids who’ve been in church their whole life. The lesson regurgitates the same basic story facts and expects you to add all the spice. It would be like making a recipe that didn’t list of any of the seasonings or spices you were supposed to use. That meal, and that lesson, ends up being very BLAND.

A good lesson should never instruct the volunteer teacher to:

Insert a personal story of a time God forgave you here”  – bad curriculum

There is nothing wrong with adding your own stories…but your own personal stories should never be “baked into” the lesson as if a volunteer can just magically come up with a kid-appropriate story in seconds.

3. Give small group leaders a chance

Again, I believe all of the people that produce Sunday School materials are well-meaning and are good people.

But I’m done with being asked to lead a small group of 1st grade boys for 25 minutes and only being provided 6 “review” questions by the curriculum.

That’s a recipe for having all of them running circles around the room in no time.

Give me small group questions, but I also want a small group activity. I don’t know about you, but I want options when it comes to small group time, because, especially with younger kids, it can turn into babysitting really fast if you don’t keep things moving.

4. Find curriculum that provides community

Small churches, by their very nature have limited staff. There are a few people, with lots of responsibility.

So instead of purchasing curriculum that leaves you high and dry after you spend thousands of dollars, find something that provides you access to a community of people who teach and struggle with the same things you do.


There are lots of smart people out there who can help you when you get stuck. Because let’s face it, we all get stuck, no matter how good something is. So find a group of people who talk and figure out problems together.

Don’t go it alone. The world is a very connected place now because of the internet, leverage that for your benefit. Find a curriculum with a community around it.

5. Don’t settle for what used to work

Have you ever seen a lesson plan that looks almost identical to one from 15 years ago?

While the stories are always from the same book of course (the Bible), the presentation can always be changed. Don’t settle for a solution that’s been resold by a curriculum publisher over and over with very little change.

Sunday School Curriculum needs to change and adapt to the times we live in. The stories need to be presented better, the actives need to be fresh, and there should be video involved. Kids are growing up with YouTube all around them. The church, and the stories we tell there, better “look and feel” a lot like what kids see on YouTube. Because if a kid judges you to be irrelevant it doesn’t matter what you say.

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