Sarah Gregory is the Nooks and Neighborhoods Coordinator for Christians Engaged in Faith Formation. Sarah has her MACE from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. Sarah has worked as a Director of Discipleship, freelance curriculum writer, and Worship leader. She lives in St. Louis with her husband Kaleb, and son Cecil.
How do we know we picked the right curriculum? When I first asked this question, I was really focused on Children's Ministry. After all, my teachers dedicated so much time breathing life into the lessons, I wanted to be sure we were using the best possible materials for our church and our children's needs. And Children's Ministry definitely has its own set of needs. Brittany Sky, the senior editor of children's resources at the United Methodist Publishing House, has a great article for picking great kids curriculum here if you want to know more.
But I realized that adult curriculum needed assessed too. At any given time, people are learning something while they meet together in a congregation. Why not make sure that every single gathering of learners and leaders offers the priceless gift of excellent teaching and content?
In order to really assess the curriculum, I found a few steps were key.
1. Affirm your leaders
Most churches have key leaders that pick studies and often those folks do so without much guidance or prompting. Be sure to affirm the work your leaders are doing and seek to support their leadership rather than overstep and over manage their leadership.
A leader's commitment to small groups, discipleship, Sunday School, and outreach ministry is a gift to your entire faith community.
2. Ask your leaders.
Maybe you ask in the form of a survey. Maybe you take your leaders out to coffee. Maybe you just catch them quickly after church one Sunday. Just make sure to ask.
Start with questions like what went well this year in regards to your bible studies and curriculum? What didn't? Let the conversation unwind and see if you can pinpoint how to better guide the leaders towards valuable and exceptional resources.
If you are new to faith formation leadership, curated lists like those found on the Cokesbury website can be a great starting point for great theological content and quality teaching.
3. Assist your leaders.
When I worked as a Director of Discipleship, I sent out a list of the key goals for discipleship in our church based on a discipleship survey our church had taken and then sent a list of resources that would meet those goals at the beginning of each semester for our adult leaders. Work with a pastor or leadership team to get clarity about the goals and vision. If you have a good sense of your church's goals and overall mission it will propel your congregation's learning.
Don't feel confident in your ability to find those resources? Organizations like CEF exist to expose you to all kinds of content, including curriculum, so reach out to your networks and enjoy the support you receive!
In our church's case, the resources were available through our own media library in our church, the conference library, through an education fund, or through contributions from the small groups. Every church has different resources so share when you can, contact other faith formation leaders in your area to see if they might be stocked with a particular study, and be generous with your own materials.
Be available for leaders who want guidance. Meet with them if they need it. Your goal as a faith formation leader is to equip other leaders not to exhaust yourself. Help others find the tools they need.
So much of the learning in our churches happens when people gather to talk about the good news outside of Sunday morning. How do you make sure you and your leaders are using the right curriculum for your ministry?