Many children’s ministry curriculums aim to help kids and youth understand the Bible’s overarching narrative. This generally consists of teaching stories and helping them see how they fit into God’s story.
This approach is particularly suited for churches with a mix of separate and combined age groups. It also provides resources for parents, which help them continue the faith conversation at home.
Smaller churches allow children to connect with other Christians and better understand the Bible. They can receive individualized attention from their pastors and fellow members, which may not be possible in a large church setting. The intimate nature of small groups also allows people to express their needs and discuss personal struggles in a safe environment. In turn, members can offer support and encouragement to one another, which is only sometimes feasible in a larger congregation.
Choosing the right curriculum is essential to provide children with an engaging and nurturing learning environment. A good curriculum will incorporate diverse teaching methods and age-appropriate scripture lessons for kids from preschool to preteens. It should also include resources for families to continue religious education at home.
Consider a Bible-based children’s curriculum for small churches designed to engage kids through activities and encourage discussion. Choose a curriculum focusing on Jesus as the center of every story, which shows how each Bible story whispers his name.
The curriculum includes a program guide with activities, leader reflections, and training ideas. It also has a mobile app and digital resources.
Address Specific Issues
While many church leaders rely on a published curriculum, some children’s ministry directors prefer to write their materials. This allows them to create lessons tailored to their congregation’s specific needs, ensuring that the content is appropriate for each age group and can incorporate various teaching methods.
While writing a curriculum takes much time and energy, some children’s ministers find the task rewarding and fun. Consider the advantages and disadvantages of constructing your curriculum before deciding on this project. Then, test the creative waters by developing a sample lesson.
One of the fastest-growing trends in Sunday school this year has been a movement toward customized curriculum. More than 1 out of 5 churches (18%) now create their curriculum for elementary-age classes. This can be as simple as modifying the age-graded material to meet better your church’s educational needs or as complicated as creating a whole new curriculum from scratch.
The unique circumstances of small church settings provide an excellent opportunity to engage children creatively. Adapting the learning experience to meet children where they are emotionally, socially, and spiritually is one of the most effective ways of helping them grow in their faith.
Consider inviting a special education teacher or pediatric therapist (occupational, physical, or speech) to review your curriculum. These experts can offer straightforward yet powerful suggestions for adapting the materials to include students with differing abilities better.
For example, if your children’s ministry has teens in the same class as toddlers, you may need to develop a more interactive play activity than the existing curriculum suggests. Ask the teen kids in your church about what play activities they like to engage in and how they would like to interact with younger children. Then, adapt the curriculum and teaching methods to incorporate those activities into the class.
Similarly, consider offering the children in your small church a chance to participate in a service project. This provides a valuable opportunity for children to engage in community outreach and helps them understand how the Bible instructs us to serve others. Many churches find that offering this opportunity regularly strengthens the bond between church and family and reinforces the lessons learned in Sunday School.
Incorporate Character Formation
One of the key benefits of small group settings over larger church contexts is the ability to teach character formation. Sermons and teachings often address a general audience, but small groups can explore specific passages or topics more deeply. This allows for in-depth discussions that can teach and develop character traits such as empathy, cooperation, and honesty.
It’s also important to remember that teaching character development isn’t a teacher’s job alone. Parents and other mentors can help with this effort, reinforcing character lessons outside class.
Another way to reinforce character lessons is by pointing out positive role models. This can be done through real-life examples of people with these traits or through fictional characters from books, movies, and TV shows. Please encourage students to think about these individuals and whether their actions match the traits they’re trying to emulate.
It’s also important to note that children learn by observing their environment and taking in subconsciously the values of those around them. This means that adults, too, must be careful not to impose their values on their students. In addition, it’s essential to allow children the space to solve their conflicts with friends and deal with other situations that will challenge them and promote character growth.