What makes curriculum valuable

As a youth pastor, I receive calls all the time from various youth ministry resource companies trying to sell me on their newest curriculum, the incredible benefits it will have for my church’s student ministry, and the radical spiritual growth our teens will experience if I just switch to their program. In a really offensive move, after I politely declined (again), one salesman actually questioned if I even cared about the faith of our teens. As though anything other than his curriculum was spiritual child abuse.

When I first began, I actually was shopping around a lot. I tried a lot of different companies, searching for that ‘perfect’ or ‘best’ curriculum, the one that would be the most effective. It took a while, but my opinion has shifted dramatically over the years.

I don’t think the curriculum matters much at all.

Here’s why I say that: the reality is, it’s all pretty solid. All of the companies out there have really raised the bar and the quality of their work, both in spiritual grounding and in appeal to young people is solid. If you really start to look around, there is a phenomenal amount of high quality materials out there to choose from.

Ultimately, what I think matters far more than the particular curriculum, is the attitude the teachers have who work with it. You can have the best material out there, and if the teachers are unenthusiastic, it’s probably going to fall flat and not be very effective at all. But if there is excitement about the material? If the teachers believe in it? Then it is going to incredibly powerful.

So all that to say, to me the value in curriculum selection is having a goal or direction in mind, and picking something based on that. Sell the vision, the plan, the direction, and then whatever curriculum falls into that will have excitement about it … which will translate to far more effective teaching for the students.

Use what you believe in, not what the church down the street says is the best, and you will be far more effective.

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