I usually update my curriculum charts every year in April or May. This year I am late; I’ve come to realize that in my “retirement” I don’t have the energy (or heart) to focus on this project that I’ve done annually for at least twenty years now. And I must admit my frustration – every year on social media groups that focus on Christian formation the same questions are asked: what are you using for your [fill in the blank] with [fill in the blank with an age group]. It is followed by countless responses of “use this,” “we like this,” or “I have heard this is good.” That is NOT how to choose a curriculum for your church programs, no matter the age.
Yes, it is good to get feedback from users to help you consider something you have already been researching. But first, please do the work: What are the needs of your congregation or age group? Why are you seeking something new; what did you dislike about the previous program that is calling you to make a switch? What have you learned about the needs and desires of participants since last year?
Since this is the last chart I will post, I highly recommend you subscribe to Building Faith and bookmark their Curriculum Center. By subscribing, you will get an email each time they publish an article about Christian formation as well as their curriculum reviews for all ages, stages, and settings. Their articles for this year’s curriculum picks:
- Top Picks for Adult Christian Formation Curriculum
- Top Picks for Adult Bible Study Curriculum
- Top Picks for Youth Ministry Curriculum
- Top Picks for Children’s Ministry Curriculum
So here’s my last chart of curriculum for children’s formation in a church setting. It is not exhaustive and I’m sure some publishers will again contact me about why their program is not listed. I also do not endorse all of these programs; some I think are not worth spending a dime on. From my Episcopal perspective, I believe some are actually harmful to help a child grow in a reflective life of faith.
And if you’re an Episcopalian, please make sure whatever curriculum you do choose helps the child, youth, or adult understand and live out their Baptismal Covenant in daily life. How does the content of the program help an individual:
- Believe in God, the Creator?
- Believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God?
- Believe in the Holy Spirit?
- Continue in the apostles’ teaching (learning) and fellowship (faith community), in the breaking of bread (Eucharist), and in the prayers (communally and individually)?
- Persevere in resisting evil (cosmic, communal, and personal events and actions), and, whenever you fall into sin (turn away from God), repent (ask for forgiveness), and return (turn back) to the Lord?
- Proclaim by word (telling your story) and example (how you live you life) the Good News of God in Christ (that Jesus came into this world to bring us back to God)?
- Seek (look for) and serve (be in relationship) Christ in all persons (no matter race, ethnicity, gender expression, ability, education, economics or politics), loving your neighbor (those in the community and world) as yourself?
- Strive for justice (equal access to all of life’s privileges) and peace (living in harmony) among all people, and respect the dignity (honor and respect) of every human being?