When consulting with congregations about choosing curriculum, I always advise that post-Easter is the best time to start the discernment and review process––not in August or September when you suddenly want to try something new! So, now that we are in Eastertide (Alleluia!), below are the updated charts of curricular resources that are published for children (ages 0-12) and youth (ages 13-18), as well as confirmation program resources (for youth and adults) from a variety of denominational perspectives.
A few notes about my annual charts (AKA – my opinion/disclaimer):
- I do my best to see what the mainline denominations (Episcopal, ELCA, United Methodist, Presbyterian (USA), United Church of Christ, and Disciples of Christ (Reformed) have published. These may be “official” resources directly from the denomination, independent publishers (with no denominational affiliation), or publishers that are affiliated with a denomination.
- These are categorized by the aspects that I feel are important to know when choosing a resource for using with your church. This is even more pertinent in today’s church as volunteers have less time (or skill) for determining the theology and content of lesson plans. So questions such as who the publisher is, what Bible is used (and how it is used and “interpreted”), the framework, content, format (print, download, video, etc.), and often ultimately the cost are listed on these charts.
- Prices and websites are always changing. This is perhaps the most time consuming piece of putting these charts together. Oh how I wish simply URLs were used for curricular programs! And from 2017, prices have really jumped in most programs. The exception is those programs that have been around for awhile – they are discounted. But buyer beware . . . you often get what you pay for, and sometimes what you pay for is not necessary.
- I know I haven’t covered everything. Each year I hear from a new publisher who asks me to add their program. I review them, and if they fit my criteria (having a leader guide of some sort), I add them (the following year).
- Lastly, many ask, “What is the official curriculum for (fill in the denomination)?” The United Methodist Church and Presbyterian Church (USA) have official materials; they also have “official” publishers in-house and their denomination funds educational materials. Sadly that is no longer the case with most denominations.
So here you go! Get your teams together and begin discerning!
- April 2018 Curriculum Chart for Children (Note: As of 4/5/18, this is an updated chart from the original posted when this article was posted 4/3/18)
- April 2018 Curriculum Chart for Youth Formation
- April 2018 Overview Confirmation Resources
If you’re looking for Vacation Bible School reviews, check out Virginia Theological Seminary’s CMT website.
And here are some documents to help you in the discernment process: