I often hear this from church leaders:
“There is so much in the curriculum and so many folders that it’s overwhelming. We are a (fill in the blank) size church. What do I do?”
As a former Children’s Pastor at churches of 20 kids, 100 kids, 300 kids, and multisite (including portable sites) with 400-500 kids, all with very different environments, I get it. However, I have found that Orange curriculum is adaptable to every context. No matter what size church, denomination, or context of your church, I want to give you a glimpse of a process that will assist you in contextualizing your curriculum.
In fact, at Orange we work with 80+ denominations. Each denomination has unique perspectives, theology, and faith practices. It’s one reason we say that no curriculum will be 100% what your church needs. I know that sounds crazy. That’s why they have you! You know your context, denomination, and community best. We’re helping leaders go from creating a curriculum each week to customizing and tweaking a powerful curriculum and strategy that will take their ministry further than they could go alone.
We write Orange curriculum to be customizable so that you can make the changes you need to make.
But before we dive in, I want to remind you of one thing.
The main goal is not just to create an environment for kids to get the most information possible. The goal is to create an environment where relationships can grow, so that kids will actually hear the message of Jesus in a way that transforms how they love God, themselves, and the world around them.
Curriculum is one piece of a larger strategy to partner with parents in leading kids to this end. Here are some things to consider as you navigate and contextualize your children’s ministry curriculum. We will look at a few of the seven segments of your curriculum. If you’re looking to customize Orange’s youth ministry curriculum, learn more here.
Contextualizing Curriculum for Your Church
First and foremost, weeks ahead of a new month, ALWAYS start with the ‘Prelude’ folder in order to get a bigger picture understanding of the what and why behind what is being taught. This is key for contextualizing curriculum, casting vision to parents and leaders, and weekly/monthly planning. It is also where you will find ideas to create your environment from hallways, to stages, to costumes, etc… Don’t have a stage, or even a budget for this? That’s ok. When I had no budget, we would just print or draw/color our own posters, or simplify with borrowed items from my home or other parents. This is a great way to get other families involved.
We believe Small Group is the most important because this is where we can give kids someone who knows them and a place where they belong. You may have heard it said that kids don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. This is where you can speak God’s truths through loving relationships. In doing this, you are giving kids a better seat to hear the message in a way that affects their life.
That’s the big picture, but you also have to consider much more. The activities, the words, the environment, the time frame, the supplies, the kids, leaders, etc. For example, consider how each activity will work in your environment. Then modify if needed. Do you need a larger space? Does the leader need to have kids take turns? Can you substitute any supplies with items you already have access to (i.e., cotton balls for marshmallows)? Be sure to save leftovers of any supplies for reuse at a later time. Prep all supplies ahead of time so leaders can focus on the kids.
Large Group may be a term you think doesn’t apply if you only have a total of 15 kids. However, no matter what size your church is, Large Group is simply a term used to describe an environment where kids can experience God’s truths in an engaging way. That may happen in one corner of the room, or it may happen on a stage.
When I was contextualizing curriculum in large group during my time as a ministry leader, I used a variety of environments. I used a large stage, and I have also used a room where our few kids sat in a circle for Small Group. Then we moved to the other side of the room for ‘Large Group’ time. This was a time used to set up Small Group activities and discussion. Maybe you don’t have enough volunteers to run Large Group? This is where the media package can help you with engaging videos. It’s also where you can make the best choice based on your own context and budget. I have utilized a video-driven Large Group, a live Large Group with a Host and Storyteller, and even a hybrid. You know your kids, volunteers, and environment best, so use what you can in the best way for your context.
For messaging, whether in Small Group or Large Group, we do our best to use words that engage, connect, and are relevant with kids at each phase. However, you know your context and the culture in and around your church much better. Be sure to edit and say what needs to be said in a way that kids can understand and apply. It’s okay to edit. Use the word documents or editable PDFs to make changes as needed.
Finally, chat with your Orange Specialist
Because there is much more to talk about, this may be the best tip of all! You are assigned an Orange Specialist (OS) as a curriculum partner with Orange. Your Orange Specialist wants to get to know you and your ministry. We’ll use our own family ministry experience to partner with and coach you. We will help with customizing your Orange curriculum and casting vision. Also, we’ll help evaluate systems & strategies for kids, parents, and volunteers, leading up to senior leadership and everything in between. To get started, find your OS here.