With fall right around the corner, many pastors and church administrators are finalizing their plans for which curriculum to use for their adult Sunday schools, small groups, and even Sunday-morning preaching. For those that are still weighing the options, we’ve outlined some guiding questions and practical tips to save you time.
Suit your beliefs and needs
First and foremost, does the curriculum you’re considering line up with your church’s mission, vision, doctrinal beliefs, and culture? Will it provide growth where you need it most?
Be aware of your buying tendencies. Just because something is the least expensive—or the most impressive—doesn’t mean it’s the best fit for your church. Before you buy, set aside time to pray and to seek wisdom from other leaders in your church.
Should I choose uniform or age specific?
Do you want separate curriculum for the adults, youth, and children? Or do you want everyone studying the same material?
Many publishers and denominations create curriculum that follows the International Sunday School Lessons (ISSL) / Uniform Series, a six-year study plan covering all major Bible themes. A few of the most popular include the Standard Lesson Commentary (15% off on Pre-Pub) and the David C. Cook Bible Lesson Commentary (21% off on Pre-Pub).
Uniform curricula make it easier for parents to take what they learn at church and discuss it with their kids, since everyone studies the same material. On the other hand, curricula that are age specific can help pastors focus on what their groups need most at their stage in life.
Still can’t decide? Use both: follow a uniform curriculum and let your youth and children’s pastors customize it as needed.
What about media?
What types of media would make the teaching more effective and easier to understand? How much does it cost your staff to create this kind of media? Would your church members like the option of learning on their smartphones or tablets?
Premade videos, infographics, and presentation slides can save hours of prep time for pastors, as well as that part-time graphic designer / intern / youth leader who always seems a little stressed. Small group handouts and bulletin inserts also help keep people engaged, especially those with different learning styles or disabilities.
Whole-church curricula like The Studies in Faithful Living series take it a step further, providing pastors with sermon outlines, key points in the text, exegesis, and more, in addition to the media mentioned above.
Whether you choose a uniform or separate curriculum, or something packed with media and pastoral resources, remember the leaders who are teaching it. They can always use your prayers, encouragement, and most likely, a hot cup of coffee!
What other tips do you have for selecting a curriculum that fits your needs?