There are so many Sunday School curriculum resources out there — how do you even begin to choose the best one for your church?
If your church is like so many others, you were very excited when you chose that “new curriculum” a few years ago. But somehow it has grown old and tired, and it doesn’t seem to work as well as you thought it would. If this is the case for you, I recommend stepping back and taking a look at it again, and following an evaluation process that will guide your planning for the next program year.
I can hear you now. Evaluation?!!
There’s something about the word evaluation that either brings terror or complete disinterest to the hearts of those who are responsible for curriculum selection and implementation. Yet it is a critically important step in the process of guiding the people in your congregation along their faith journeys. So instead, I encourage you to view curriculum evaluation as an ongoing way to love and care for your parishioners. Then I invite you to choose a few staff members, learners, teachers, and volunteers to examine the following five questions together about your current faith formation curriculum resource.
1. Did you meet your goals?
In other words, did the learners and participants who were taught using these curriculum materials demonstrate the outcomes you had hoped for? To answer this question, you need to have an established purpose or goal. If you do not, be sure to create one for the coming year. It is not as terrifying as it sounds. A stated goal can be as simple as: “The purpose of Christian education and formation at our church is to [do what] [for whom] [by what means] as [we meet our goal of…].”
2. Was it a match for your age groups?
You know your age groups best. So ask yourself and your colleagues: Were the curriculum materials age-appropriate for our learners? If not, can we make adaptations? Or do we need to consider a new resource for next year?
3. Which Bible version does the curriculum reference?
This is a basic question that is often overlooked. Were the curriculum materials compatible with the version(s) of the Bible that your congregation uses? If not, how will you remedy this for the future?
4. How much adaptation did you need to do?
Some adaption of materials is always needed, but how much time do you have to do this? Ask yourself, “Did I use all or most of the subjects and topics covered in the curriculum materials, or did I need to pick and choose in order to make it work for the program?” If you spent too much time adapting, it may be time to consider a new curriculum resource.
5. How much preparation time is involved?
You know your teachers and volunteers. How much time are your volunteers willing to put into preparing to teach? How well does the curriculum support the needs of your teachers and volunteers? How much preparation did the materials require of the person responsible for overseeing the use of the materials? The answers to these questions will influence your decision about using the same resource next year.
As you evaluate the curriculum materials your congregation is using, I hope that you will view this process as a way to bless your children, youth, and adults along their journeys of faith.
For a more in-depth look at how to evaluate curriculum, I recommend Nancy Ferguson’s book, Christian Educators’ Guide To Evaluating and Developing Curriculum. Also visit the newly updated MA Conference Curriculum Resources and Vacation Bible School webpages.
Debbie Gline Allen is the Minister of Faith Formation, Youth and Families for the Southern New England Conference.