The past few weeks saw the release of two new children's ministry curriculums--The Jesus Storybook Bible Curriculum from ZonderKids and The Gospel Project for Kids from Lifeway. I'm excited that these excellent resources for children's ministry are on the market. If you are a children's ministry leader, you should take time to check out the samples on their websites. Before you ask (and a few parents already have), we're not planning to change up our curriculum at Sojourn...but that is not really the point of this article. I'm writing because the release of these new resources sparked an interesting discussion in the children's ministry community.
On March 5th, Jonathan Cliff posted an article entitled, "This Means Curriculum War." Jonathan's observes that there are battles being waged over which curriculum is the best, and he argues that these battles are embarrassing because of their over-charged rhetoric that emphasizes secondary matters. This is how he said it:
I’ve noticed an embarrassing trend over the past few years. There is a battle being waged over which curriculum is the best. Is it virtue-based teaching? Is it chronological biblical storytelling? Is it gospel-centered teaching? Large groups with videos, or large groups with skits? Or should large groups go away, and we invest 100% in small groups? The thing is I don’t find [these] questions to have “either/or” answers... I’ve heard Andy Stanley make a quote that goes something like this, “We are married to the vision, but we just date the models.” The models will change, and the curriculum will change as well.
In the comments of that article, Andy Johnson pushed back just a bit.
I certainly don't think a battle needs to be raised, but I do think there needs to be some more honest dialogue about what is available, how the philosophies behind what is available can help or hinder ministry, and thoughtful judgments regarding methodologies. I believe there is some material out there which looked at from a meta perspective, may have a significant negative impact on the generation to come. To me, concerns like this are deserving of conversation... when we are able to talk about these ideas with a Proverbs 27:17 perspective, I see nothing but clarity and further unity happening.