I recently came across this blog post. Yes, it’s written to the student ministry audience, but it could just have easily been written to the kidmin community. For whatever reason, those of us in kidmin just love writing curriculum. I’m not sure what our reasons are. I say “us” and “our” because I spent the first several years of ministry writing much of the curriculum I taught. Granted, this was in a time where there were also very few options… not today when there are so many options for every kind of ministry genre.
Seriously, read the post, “The problem with ‘We do our own thing.'”
I want to point out the three main points of why you shouldn’t write your own curriculum:
- It’s arrogant to write everything.
- Curriculum is cheap, your time isn’t.
- It communicates isolation when your students long for connection.
I’ll reference what I wrote last week. In my post “Have More Respect for Yourself” I talked about the things that only you can do. I’m going to add a little twist here. Just because you can write curriculum doesn’t mean you should. Okay, maybe if you have extra staff that is dedicated to writing, then writing might be the right decisions. However, if writing curriculum comes at the expense of building into leaders and connecting with parents, there are others who are better equipped to write your curriculum.
Your time is precious. Although you might feel that the lesson that was penned by your hand might be the more relevant and powerful than the canned curriculum from the company in a far away city, I promise you that the time you’re able to invest in leaders and families with the extra time you have because you buy your curriculum far outweighs the superior curriculum that you can write.
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Kenny. Good thoughts – I think it depends on your situation. For me, our structure, at the desire of our lead pastor, is that our Children’s Ministry teaches the same thing as the adults get from the pulpit each week. For us, there isn’t a curriculum laid out exactly what we need so we either are writing and/or pulling from many resources each week. We are currently teaching through the book of John with everyone on the same lesson 3 year olds – Adults.
I think that is part of the problem. I whole-heartedly agree that there is something beautiful about when an entire family can sit down together after church and have a conversation about what everyone learned. However, I do think many individuals in leadership assume that translating the teaching pastor’s message that is relevant and age appropriate to every age group is both easy or even best for every age group. Unfortunately, I do think it’s the situation of many churches and I honestly don’t believe it is right. The building blocks of faith that a preschooler most needs to learn and understand each week that will support deeper teachings they’ll get in elementary, middle school, high school and one day in big church are probably not what is being taught from the pulpit this Sunday. It was a good idea, but someone needs to tell the top level leadership that just because it’s a good idea doesn’t mean it should be done.
Nice post Kenny. I enjoyed the mention on time coming out. We have a ton of great and wonderfully talented children’s pastors in the world, and at times I believe that can work against them. Because of the strong talent many have they tend to do more, but not always what they should be doing. They need to find their Pareto.
I completely agree and completely disagree. I think we agree on the points you made here are a couple other things I would toss in the ring for discussion.
1. Writing my own curriculum taught me to condense truth not regurgitate truth. I had to study and wrestle with things that you “should” even with bought curriculum but if people are honest they take and just do it as it is written. If I didn’t start writing my own I wouldn’t have learned this skill.
2. When I started I had no budget. When I say none I mean none. Curriculum can be expensive. Many small churches can’t afford curriculum that’s why online resources that offer free curriculum is a huge help.
I might concede to your first point. I too wrote my own curriculum for years. I didn’t have any budget at my first church and later on, there just weren’t many options out there. I did learn a lot about curriculum from writing just as you said. I actually went on got my Masters in Education for this very reason… I felt that I might be writing curriculum at some point beyond what I was doing at my local level. However, now that I know what I know… I don’t feel like it’s the best use of my time. Like you, I’m grateful for the past experience, but I’ve moved on. For the church that can afford curriculum and has been doing their own thing for years and years, I’d challenge them to ask “why?”
Yes and yes!
I file this under the same category of “That doesn’t work for out kids”, which usually means “That doesn’t work for me”.
Great post Kenny!