Curriculum is helpful in keeping a ministry focused on what they want to teach their students over a year or even years of ministry. A good curriculum provides tools and ideas to make scripture stick and help students apply the principles to their lives. A great curriculum goes a step further and helps not only teach, but also helps move the ministry forward in making disciples of students. In my years of youth ministry, I have used a variety of curricula. In the midst of using these curricula, there were pivot points that caused our ministry and curriculum to change. Here are some examples of how you know when it is time to move on from a curriculum.
When it no longer serves the purpose of the ministry and/or church.
A curriculum has to do more than provide good instructions. A curriculum has to help move the ministry forward. A curriculum’s instructions should be in line with the ministry’s mission and provide truth in an applicable way. I always look for a curriculum that will reinforce the values of our ministry. For example, one of our values is evangelism. So, I look for a curriculum that also values evangelism. Some curriculum drift in their focus. Some have a different emphasis from year to year. When a curriculum drifts from our values, I know that it is time to switch.
There are times when our church has a ministry-wide theme for a year and we desire for everyone (adults, children, and students) to focus on the same topics throughout the year. As a younger youth pastor, this would frustrate me as I had chosen a curriculum that would help us as we discipled our students over years of their lives. Unfortunately (my younger self emotion), I had to stop using the curriculum because of a church theme. Now, I see a much greater value in the church all being on the same page and moving toward the same goal together. I have seen this model unify ministries and create great interaction between children and parents.
When it is no longer efficient.
All curriculums require some adjustment before or even as it is being delivered to the students. No curriculum writer or provider knows your group like you and your teachers do. The key to making any curriculum work is proper adjustments by the ministry. However, it is time to move on from a curriculum when the work that it takes adapting a curriculum to fit your group causes you and your volunteers to become inefficient in ministry. Part of the reason I love to use curriculums is that they save me time. This saved time has allowed me to invest more in the lives of my students and volunteers. So many curriculums today provide tools that help group leaders and teachers become more efficient. I value the time a good curriculum gives me.
There was a season in our church where the budget tightened and we had to make a choice when it came to curriculum. It wouldn’t have been my first choice to switch, but it was a wise move for the church. If that meant finding a curriculum that accomplishes what we need it to for less, then that is what we need to do. Some curriculum companies charge for the material and others charge by the size of your group. Looking at different curriculum types can save you some money.
There are certainly other reasons to change curriculum, but the bottom line for me is does it help meet the spiritual needs of my students, move my ministry forward and fit my ministry budget.
About the Author: Jared Sorber is a pastor at Bridgeway Community Church in Columbia, Maryland. He has served youth and families for over 20 years. He enjoys developing young leaders and desires to help others reach their community. He loves being a husband and a father to two energetic boys. You can find Jared on Instagram & Twitter @JaredSorber