“What is the best Bible class curriculum?” “What do you think of xyz Bible curriculum?” These questions are extremely important and probably some of the ones we are most often asked. Unfortunately, the answer isn’t as straightforward as we would all like it to be.
There are some business and educational realities that make the discussion of curricula more difficult. For a publishing business to succeed, they need to make a profit. The curricula that sell the best are those that will appeal to the average consumer. Unfortunately, those decision makers are often drawn in by the packaging and marketing of the product – not necessarily the effectiveness in helping students build strong faith foundations.
Consumers are also attracted to products that are easy to use. They want everything they need in a box. They want activities and lessons that require virtually no preparation time or effort. In most cases, this means the activities provided are not meeting the standards of educational best practices – they aren’t providing nearly as much value to the learning process for students as activities requiring more preparation time.
Even if the curriculum you are using was written with best educational practices in mind, you may still need to make some changes to what you have. Why? Because every group of students is different. They may require special strategies to help them better learn what they need to build strong faith foundations and reach their godly potential.
There are many types of students that would indicate you probably need to make some adjustments to any curriculum you purchase or that was written for you.
- Your students have particularly strong Bible knowledge. For a variety of reasons, some classes are full of students who know their Bible stories almost by heart. They are ready for discussions and activities that require deeper thinking and processing of what they already know. Most curricula is written for students with some knowledge, but not at this level.
- Your students have little, if any, knowledge of the Bible or even God. These students need to have background with every Bible story. Many curricula assume you are building on previous exposure to God, Christian principles and commands and even the most familiar Bible stories and people. These students won’t have any of that background knowledge and will be left confused or frustrated.
- Your students live in an area with unique challenges or in an environment that is different than the culture in which the curricula was written. Most curricula is written with the unstated assumption students live in “typical” American homes and environments – whatever that means to the authors. They may never address the particular challenges your students may face, because they aren’t in the “norm” for which the authors are writing.
- You have one or more students with special needs in an educational environment. Special needs can take a variety of forms – even giftedness is considered a special need for educational purposes. Most curricula is written for an “average student” to complete. Your students may need activities changed, slowed down, sped up, or made easier or more difficult.
There are a lot of other reasons for adapting your curriculum to better meet the spiritual needs of your students. Our free Bible Curriculum Evaluation Tool provides a comprehensive list of questions for evaluating Bible curriculum for children’s and teen classes. We explain why each question is important, the answers you would like and why you would need to make changes if the answer you get is different than the ideal.
There is no ideal Bible curriculum. If you truly want your students to be prepared to live a productive, faithful Christian life, you need to take the time to evaluate and make needed changes to whatever curriculum you use. It’s long past time when ministries could do the minimum and assume parents and society would make up for medicore instruction in Church sponsored Bible classes. If we are serious about winning the world for Christ – starting with children and teens- we have to become passionate about providing the best possible lessons and activities for them.