10 Steps for Successfully Choosing Curriculum

“You have chosen wisely” – from Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade

My last two blog posts have dealt with the subject of curriculum.  I’ve shared some thoughts about the 5 myths about curriculum, and 10 ways churches select curriculum.

Now let’s wrap up this three-part series with a post about 10 steps for successfully choosing curriculum.  Perhaps you’re needing some help doing this in your church.  You may be taking a look at new curriculum choices for Fall 2012.  Keep the following steps in mind as you potentially move your church to consider curriculum different than what you currently provide.

  1. Involve the pastor and get his buy-in.  It’s a good idea to begin your curriculum search by talking with your pastor about your goals and objectives.  Seek his advice and invite him to be a part of the curriculum selection process.  His schedule may not allow him to be at every meeting you conduct, but it will give your process credibility if people know he is supportive
  2. Form an evaluation committee – Enlist staff members, Sunday School teachers, parents, and learners.  Remember the Proverb:  “With many advisors plans succeed, for lack of counsel they fail”  Make this group representative of the demographics of your church family.
  3. Allow adequate time – 4-6 months will be necessary for a thorough evaluation of publisher’s curricula.  Be sure to order samples or request free ones from the publishers you are considering.  You’ll want to do this very early in the process, perhaps even before the evaluation process officially begins (do this right after your initial meeting with the pastor, before the first Committee meeting)
  4. Involve publishers – Invite a representative to meet with your committee and explain the features and benefits of their curriculum.  Again, request this very early in the process
  5. Develop an evaluation guide – Include factors around which you will base your evaluation of all competitors’ products.  As you evaluate preschool, children, student, and adult curricula, an evaluation sheet will provide consistency in the way you evaluate certain important factors
  6. Pray and seek consensus – You may not get 100% agreement, and that’s ok.  Aim for it, but don’t let a holdout or two keep you from choosing what’s best for your church.  Help your Committee members understand “the big picture” and the give and take it often requires to select curriculum that is best for the church
  7. Report progress to the church – Determine how frequently the church family and leaders should be informed about the Committee’s progress and calendar a time for reporting and answering questions from leaders, parents, etc.
  8. Share your decision with the church – Let the church know the Committee’s decision took time, many hours, prayer, and was arrived at by the group.  Ask for the church family’s support and prayers as you move forward to begin using the new curriculum in Sunday School
  9. Train your leaders  – Provide a training time to familiarize teachers with the features and benefits of their new curriculum.  Allow time before the new lessons begin so that teachers have time to become acquainted with their new materials.  Consider asking the publisher of your curriculum to send trainers to your church to help equip your teachers with a thorough understanding of their new materials
  10. Follow up in 90 days – Once you begin using your new curriculum, be sure to evaluate it with your teachers at the end of your first quarter using it.  Ask for feedback and clarify any questions the teachers have.  Address concerns quickly and make plans for the future.

I hope this helps as you seek to make the best choices possible for your church family!

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