Choosing The Best Curriculum

By Matt Mullins

In a market overflowing with adult small-group curriculum options, how do you make your choice? Let’s consider three ideas that might help hone your curriculum search.

Good questions build healthy small groups.

Your curriculum choices should reflect the atmosphere you desire within your small groups. Your groups don’t need another sermon; they need an interactive experience in which they feel free to be vulnerable, contribute, and examine Scripture. In short, your groups need good questions.

Look for curriculum that provides a substantial number of open-ended questions that spur conversation and reflect on the text. Although feelings are important, you don’t want your group to spend 20 to 40 percent of their group time discussing their emotions. Steer toward product that provides accessible, on-topic, Scripture-examining questions.

Utilitarian curriculum attracts and keeps teachers.

Curriculum should make the teacher’s life easier. What’s the point of a chair if you can’t sit in it? Complicated, verbose curriculum is equally as useless. Instead, well-prepared facilitators will develop lesson plans that reflect the pacing and back and forth of the classroom. You can provide them this tool.

Your teachers are volunteering their time, and your curriculum choices reflect your understanding and appreciation of that fact. Curriculum should answer the difficult questions. Commentaries and conversations with you will help clarify challenging concepts in a piece of Scripture. However, your curriculum choice should provide enough exegesis on the chosen passage to anticipate questions that the learners might have. This provides the teacher with confidence and the opportunity to spend more time wrestling with the text and augmenting the lesson to be the most effective for his or her group.

Simple-to-use curriculum will make your recruiting job easier—it’s a valuable tool to bring to a recruitment lunch, demonstrating that teaching is doable, and you have made it as accessible as possible.

Scripture-driven curriculum provides all that you need.  

The Bible is relevant. In an attempt to address current issues, we might be tempted to jump from one short-term topical study to the next. And although these can be helpful in small doses to attract visitors, never underestimate the relevance of strategically teaching through the books of the Bible. If you teach through the Bible, you will discuss: gender roles, marriage, sex, death, parenting, singleness, addiction…. You name it; it will be addressed.

With these three principles in mind, prayerfully make your curriculum choices. Take your time and do the research, knowing that you are providing your teachers with tools to help build the kingdom.

Matt Mullins serves as Open Division Minister at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas. If you have any questions on small group curriculum, feel free to contact Matt Mullins at mmullins@prestonwood.org.

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