Last year I had a big bout of buyer’s remorse. The children’s ministry curriculum I’d purchased was beautiful, affordable, and claimed to be low maintenance—all perfect ingredients for our slow summer months. But two weeks in, I was doing a lot of supplementary work to make up for the shallow lessons.
Here are some things I wish I had intentionally looked for while selecting material to help teach children to follow Jesus and grow in their faith:
- Grace-based messaging. It’s tempting to turn rich and complex stories about God’s vision of hope into morality tales. If we simply tell kids what it means to be a nice person without the radical message of unconditional love from the Creator, we lose the breadth of the gospel.
- Themes about God rather than people. We want to teach children to see their place in God’s story, not the other way around. When children’s ministry is all about individuals, we feed children more of our culture’s narcissism and miss out on the comfort of deeper knowledge about a God who is bigger than we can imagine.
- Contextualization. I might not use this term while speaking to kids, but explaining how verses and stories fit in the overall biblical narrative is so essential. If we don’t offer these insights in every lesson, we risk confusing kids, proof-texting, and missing the broader story of God’s redemption through Jesus.
- Engaging interaction. Dramatizations, creative exploration, and spending plenty of time in active praise music and interactive prayer, can all be ways of helping kids learn they can worship God in everything they do.
- Hospitality to newcomers. It’s easy to assume that biblical events and characters are familiar to everyone present, but these assumptions can exclude visitors or people who are newer to their faith journey. This doesn’t mean we can’t offer “spiritual meat” or delve into complex, age-appropriate issues. It does mean that we give necessary background information and rearticulate the basics of the gospel to be accessible for someone who has little knowledge of the Bible.
- Reminders of the big picture. Here’s an experiment to try from time to time: Ask the children in your ministry, “What is the good news?” We want to continually cast the vision of a loving Creator who lives in and around us and a God who was one of us, who died and conquered death to rescue and save this world.
Note: For more help in choosing curriculum and other faith formation needs, visit the Faith Formation Ministries page.