Our family started attending Valley Life almost a year and a half ago. On our first Sunday, we were greeted with a warm hello as we dropped off our daughter Kate in the nursery. We knew she was safe and taken care of. For the first time in 11 months, we heard a sermon—like the whole thing! We didn’t have to wrangle a toddler and offer countless snacks to get through the preaching. She had a perfect place to learn, hearing the same truth about Jesus we were.
When we attended the membership class just a few weeks later, my only question was about kids ministry. I asked about curriculum, and Brian shared that Valley Life writes their own. I don’t know if it was my experiences as a teacher or my strong desire to teach my family about why Jesus is better, but I left feeling like my heart was going to explode. When I was later asked to write curriculum for this special ministry, the answer was yes! A million times yes! I knew our curriculum team had the incredible opportunity to serve the families and children God places in our classrooms each week.
So, what does it look like to be part of the Valley Life curriculum team? Why does our church write our own curriculum? Here are five specific reasons why:
We Are Committed to Teaching Our Children About Jesus
Each week we write different lesson plans based on the age and grade level of the kids. There are three weekly plans: preschool, early elementary, and elementary. In addition, we write a monthly toddler plan derived from the Jesus Storybook Bible. We believe every child can learn more about Jesus, and we write in a way that is developmentally appropriate. We are mindful of the timing and pacing of each lesson so that each class is engaged and has the opportunity to ask questions.
Each lesson includes a memory verse, prayer, scripture reading, crafts, and an opportunity to serve at snack time. Each age or grade level has its own interests, abilities, and knowledge, and we hope to capture that when we write each week. Even though there are some differences across the curriculum, each lesson plan always answers three questions:
- What is God doing for his people in this story?
- The good news: how does God do the same for us—only better—in Jesus?
- How does believing this good news change how we live?
We Know How to Best Teach God’s Word to Our Families
When we write, we are sharing about the same relationship we find our hope and joy in. It is a privilege to write lessons and prayers for each classroom and reach families with take-home pages outlining the big ideas their child heard. We recognize that it is always someone’s first Sunday, and at the same time, there are children attending who have grown up hearing about Jesus. It’s important to take this into consideration and be prepared to meet any preconceptions each child will bring with material that best illustrates God’s love.
We Are Responsible to Capture the Interest of Our Children
Sunday mornings really do fly by! We only have such a small amount of time to reach each child. Writing our own curriculum empowers classroom teachers to see the big picture of the lesson and feel supported with the guiding questions we provide. The lessons have a suggested time limit for each activity, which helps as well. We write keeping different activities in mind so we can best build relationships with these kids.
Jack Klumpenhower, the author of Show Them Jesus, writes, “We shouldn’t build self-esteem. We should build Christ-esteem. We must give kids the best kind of encouragement of all—the kind that comes from knowing that Jesus is in you and for you. When I see growth in a kid, I try to remember to tell him how much I see God at work in his life. These little encouragements add up.” Sharing this growth with parents is also an added bonus!
We Write as an Opportunity to Reflect and Learn
We are engaging families in a journey to learn more about Jesus and recognize this is lifelong learning. When we write we have the unique opportunity to deepen our knowledge of Jesus. We are learning right alongside the children we are serving. When we prepare for each lesson there is much praying, reading, and reflection before even one word is written. Our writing is not only grounded in God’s word but also in our life experiences.
For example, when I write about how God sent his son Jesus for us, it is easy to think about how good God has been to me and my family. I can share my testimony, invite my friends to church, and sing loudly on Sunday because of the deeper understanding I have about God from curriculum writing. Writing for kids ministry has strengthened my relationship with Jesus because of the time I have spent praying, reading, and studying His word.
Writing Our Own Curriculum Allows Us to Be in Community Together
When we meet as a team to plan before each series, every Valley Life church is represented. The kids ministry directors, along with other support teams like youth ministry and crafts, contribute to the conversation about how we can best show Jesus to each grade level. Each church has a unique perspective and brings resources and ideas that capture the culture and needs of their children. The curriculum team has created a space to work collaboratively and creatively to best impact our churches’ neighborhoods. We count on each child sharing what they are learning with their friends and family.
Kids ministry is such an incredible ministry to be part of! Each week is new and exciting. And the truth is, the good news never gets old. There is always more to be taught. It heals, empowers, and makes us eager to serve God. There is always something to uncover, write, and share.