and Ministry Resources
Excellent, Effective, Engaging and Affordable Curriculum Options
for Churches in These Tough Economic Times
by: Lynda Freeman
One on-going expense for churches is curriculum, but what do churches do when unemployment hits congregants, offerings are smaller and budgets become even tighter? Churches care about children and want the most effective curriculum, but what do we do when funds aren’t available for such purchases? After all, utilities, insurance, mortgage and staff’s salaries have to be paid. What options are available so churches can utilize excellent curriculum on a shoestring?
I’ve had people tell me over the years if a church wants excellent curriculum they’ll have to pay a lot because you get what you pay for. I sincerely disagree. Just because a curriculum is costly it doesn’t mean it’s written to engage your children so they will remember, understand and live God’s Word. Some of your best curriculum options are also your best curriculum buys! Curriculum can be affordable and excellent!
As we look at specific curriculum, keep in mind the following important features for excellent and affordable curriculum. First, curriculum must be Biblically sound. It doesn’t matter how creative or affordable a curriculum is if it isn’t solidly grounded in God’s Word. I wouldn’t recommend spending your dollars on any curriculum that wasn’t Biblically sound.
Secondly, keep families in mind. It’s the parent’s responsibility and joy to teach their children about God, His Word and how to know and walk with Him. It’s the church’s role to equip parents and build on what they teach their children. We mustn’t replace parents as the primary teachers of their children. So, how do we engage parents? One simple place to begin is with a unified scope and sequence for preschool through elementary. If all children learn the same Bible lesson on Sunday, parents can continue the learning at home all week. Some think if we teach the same lesson to all ages it loses relevance. I strongly disagree. Every Bible lesson has relevance for all – preschool through adult. Small Group Shepherds/class teachers and parents may need to help children understand how it’s relevant, but God’s Word is relevant for us all. A unified scope and sequence makes it easier for parents to fill their role as primary teachers of their children!
Finally, look at lesson options. Can one week’s lesson be used for two weeks and can you simplify elementary curriculum activities so preschool children utilize the same curriculum? If so, you can experience real savings by buying curriculum every other quarter!
In my comparison chart I looked at three types of curriculum used by most churches and excellent affordable options for each! In this article I’m focusing on three “Super Savers”, but first let me say a few words about Traditional Sunday School Curriculum. While traditional curriculum can be costly with student books/take home papers, it is also one of the easiest to make more affordable by eliminating take home papers/student books. You could just purchase teacher books which average between $6 and $9 per age level per teacher each quarter. If you don’t purchase student materials you do need a plan for how to replace those learning activities; I’m happy to say the traditional curriculum in the chart provide options for each lesson that don’t require student materials!
Now for my top “Super Saver” curriculum options! It was very difficult to narrow my choices to just these as in addition to the ones I chose I really liked Group’s Hand’s On Bible Max and Lifeway’s Worship Kid’s Style. My top Super Saver picks are kidz Connection - which even though I write it I will give it for free to any church that can not afford to buy curriculum, Gospel Light’s Kids Time/Little Kids Time, David C. Cook’s Boz’s Teach Me, Show Me, Grow Me Preschool Curriculum and Promiseland’s Metamorphosis and Flipt!
Publisher – David Freeman Publishing
Web address – www.kidzconnection.us
Sold by the quarter with 13 Sunday school lessons and 13 optional second service lessons
Cost - $50 per quarter per age level
Ages covered – Preschool/Early Elementary and Elementary
Scope and Sequence – Three years are completed each focusing on a theme – Grace, Obedience or Talking with God. Three more years are being developed focusing on Walk of Faithfulness, Heart for God and others and Relationships
Activities – Bible lesson, object lesson, crafts, games, service project and
Reproducible student/teacher materials
I would like to add original music, but I write kidz Connection so it will engage children and equip them to live God’s Word in their every day life. I believe curriculum must be affordable so churches are free to make as many copies of the material as they need for their ministry and they are welcome to reuse the materials as much as they choose. Because kidz Connection is affordable yet excellent and since I will give it for free to any church that can’t afford to buy it, it a “Super Saver”!
Kids Time and Little Kids Time
Publisher – Gospel Light
Web address – www.gospellight.com
Number of lessons included in kit – 13 to 52
Cost - $40-$50 for 13 week resource and $140 for 52 week kit
Ages covered – Preschool through Elementary
Scope and Sequence – 13 week resources follow theme of their VBS, Preschool kits cover My God and Me and My Great Big God, Elementary kits cover God’s Kids Grow – Fruit of the Spirit, God’s Kids Celebrate – Bible celebrations and God’s Big Picture
Activities – Bible lesson, object lesson, crafts, games, worship/music and more
Reproducible student/teacher materials and music
I would like to see service projects included in all the kits, but I really like Kids Time for it’s creativity, the way it uses activity to engage children and because it is affordable yet excellent making it a “Super Saver”!
Boz’s Teach Me, Show Me, Grow Me Preschool Curriculum
Publisher – David C. Cook
Web address – www.davidccook.com
Number of lessons included in kit – 56
Cost - $200
Ages covered – Preschool ages 3-5
Scope and Sequence – who God is, who Jesus is and include extra lessons for Christmas and Easter
Activities – Bible lesson, crafts, games, worship/music, Boz DVD
Reproducible materials and music
I’d like to see the same scope and sequence developed in a line of curriculum for older children, but I really like Boz because of the abundance of creative, engaging options allowing it to be a “Super Saver” by stretching the lessons to cover more than one week!
Metamorphosis and Flipt
Publisher – Promiseland/Willow Creekk
Web address – www.willowcreek.com/children
Number of lessons included in kit – 10
Ages covered – Elementary
Scope and Sequence – Metamorphosis’ scope covers Proverbs while Fflipt covers people whose lives changed/Flipt when they met Jesus
Activities – Bible lesson, crafts, games and more
Reproducible student/teacher materials
I would have liked to see materials for preschool and service projects, but I found these kits include an abundance of options making it really easy to stretch the lessons to 20 – maybe even 30 - weeks each. All materials are reproducible allowing you to make as many copies as you need and placing Promiseland in my “Super Saver” top three picks!
As I mentioned, aside from kidz Connection since it has service projects I really would have liked to see service projects included in the other resources and hope churches will add their own. Look for projects your kids can do – food drives, gently used clothing drives, paper products/toiletries collections, cleaning parks or anything with Samaritan’s Purse! When we give our kids opportunities to serve, they will be able to learn to live what they learn!!
It is important for churches to have a set vision/purpose for their children’s ministry and a specific scope and sequence chosen to help them accomplish their goals; but in these difficult times you may need to look at your scope and sequence and focus for one or two years on the core of that scope . . . these resources would allow you to do so in an affordable and excellent way!
I appreciate these publishers and the ones in the chart for providing excellent, affordable options and hope to see more publishers follow suit! Curriculum where churches are free to make as many copies as they need for as long as they use it and with an abundance of options allow churches to stretch their dollars as good stewards even in these economically difficult times! Yes, churches have to “tighten their belts” and be more careful than ever where they spend money, but we can still have excellent, effective, engaging children’s ministry with curriculum we can afford!
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Copyright © Lynda Freeman
Last Updated Feb. 19, 2010
Web Page by Lynda Freeman
Send an e-mail to Lynda at LyndaFreeman@roundaboutthechurch.com