Choosing a children's curriculum can be a daunting task. We begin all our children on the milk of the world, in the hope that we may also begin to feed them meat as we build on their understanding of God’s Word. In light of repeated New Testament analogies (1 Corinthians 3:1-3; Hebrews 5:11-14; and 1 Peter 2:1-2); concerning milk and meat (or solid food), I will use the acronym “MEAT”.
The acronym MEAT is one tool you can use to evaluate the best curriculum for your needs based on four factors: message (doctrine), expense (cost), applications (uses with learners) and teacher-friendliness (ease of use).
Message: Is the message doctrinally sound? Is quoted Scripture used in context? Are passages and terms which may be foreign to children explained in an age appropriate manner? Does the curriculum include instructions to be given to parents in reviewing the lesson at home?
Expense: What are the up-front costs for this curriculum? What will we spend, on average, implementing the activities, snack ideas, etc, proposed in this curriculum? Will additional funds need to be spent on supplemental materials or on volunteer training in using this curriculum? What will the cost of reproducing lesson plans, etc be? Does this curriculum provide your church with the most bang for its buck?
Applications: Are the applications given in line with the text, in context? Are the applications given relevant to children today? Are the applications age-appropriate? Are most of the applications practical for the children in my church’s children’s ministry program?
Teacher-Friendliness: Will most (if not all) of your church’s Sunday School teachers be able to comfortably understand and follow this curriculum? Are sufficient options given for alternate activities or time-fillers should your teachers finish early? Are teachers given sufficient instruction in teaching the material in an age appropriate manner to their Sunday School classes?
In short, when you look for a MEATy curriculum, you will find a curriculum which will meet your church’s needs and will have a better tool with which to teach the children in your ministry—but do not forget that a better tool is only part of the story, you must prepare well to get the most out of any curriculum you choose—and you must train the teachers in your Sunday School classes to do the same.