Curriculum is an awesome gift from God (without it – weeping and gnashing of teeth would increase exponentially); however, I have never found curriculum that I am completely satisfied with straight out of the box. Sometimes I only make minor tweaks to a published lesson and other times I just take the main idea and completely rewrite it. Here are some points I’ve learned to make curriculum work for my specific need:
1. Break It Down Into Parts
When looking at a Confirmation lesson, Sunday School lesson, or Sunday/Wednesday Youth Night lesson, I think in parts. The bare bones are:
- Main Discussion
- Main Activity
2. What’s Your Main Point?
Sounds obvious – but this derails many trains of thought. All of the parts of a lesson have to build upon your main point. A lot of published curriculum do not do this. So, if you’re using someone else’s curriculum or writing your own – make sure it all builds on your point. This is really hard!
Example: Sometimes you come up with what you believe shall be the greatest story ever told for a lesson – but it just does not fit your main point. You attest to yourself, “But Self, it shall be the greatest story ever told” – doesn’t matter – don’t use it.
3. Know Your Constituents
Every church is different. Every class is different. So, it is great when you can read through a lesson and know instantly what will work and what will not work with your group. However, you’ll never be omniscient in this regard; so don’t be surprised when what you know “will work” – doesn’t. Learn from those moments and try to better understand why it didn’t work.
4. Over Plan – But Point Out What’s Essential
It’s a bit unnerving when you’ve made it through all you’ve planned and you still have 30 minutes left. So, over plan. When writing lessons that other leaders will use – be clear about what you expect “to be completed” and what is “if time allows.”
5. Conclusions Are Important
I write a lot of small group leader guides for our weekly program and I always over plan and write too much because of #4, but I began to realize that most weeks the groups weren’t getting to the conclusion and wrapping up the discussion. They would just stop when they ran out of time wherever they were. So, now I always write in the lesson “With 10 minutes left conclude with these questions.” Having a good conclusion changes what people will take away from a discussion.
What curriculum advice do you have? What are your favorite curriculums to use?