Throughout the years, I have had the privilege of seeing the way many different ministries work and have learned how life-giving curriculum can engage learners. Kids are experiencing some of the most formative years of their life as they participate in kid’s church. This puts weight and value on having a curriculum that goes above and beyond the status quo.

In using and testing a variety of curriculum over the years, I have built a few filters for choosing what is right for the Mill City family.

First, I always look for curriculum that leaves room for the Holy Spirit. Going to church isn’t about checking something off the list or going through the motions. God wants to meet us and speak to us; we just have to take time to listen. This is as true for adults as it is for kids. In Matthew 19:14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me.” He desires to speak to children and move in their lives.

Additionally, we know the Holy Spirit is the one who draws us to Jesus and can change us from the inside out. We can tell kids they should live a certain way, but if the Holy Spirit doesn’t work on the inside, the result is really only behavior change. The truths we teach can last beyond Sunday and childhood, if the Holy Spirit is the one teaching and we’re facilitating the opportunity to learn. True life change happens in the context of the Holy Spirit, not just in learning how to follow rules and regulations. When engaging with the Holy Spirit, we begin to obey out of love, not simply out of duty.

It’s also so important for the curriculum we use to teach the Bible. Scripture is God’s word, breathed for us. Why wouldn’t we want to dig in? The Bible is rich and full of transformative truth, so rather than just using parts of the Bible as independent additions or examples, we want the kids to know the Bible and how it applies to them. We want kids to know truth that is lasting — truth that is applicable now and throughout their lifetime.

We all want to be known and belong. This is no different for kids. We want Mill City Kids to be a place where kids know that they belong and have a safe space to share their unique stories. This is why we have small groups for kids as young as age two. When looking for curriculum, I want to find a strong small group component that enhances the opportunity to go deeper and build community within the classroom.

Finally, and more practically, I want any curriculum we choose to be easy for team teachers to implement. We have the most amazing team, but they are busy with jobs and lives outside of Sunday morning. I want them to feel equipped to use their gifts without making their ministry so time-consuming they can’t commit to excellence. This is the reason we switched to a video curriculum about a year ago. Not only do the videos give the kids a fun and inspirational experience, but leaders in our classroom continue to supplement this activity with storytelling and practical life examples that don’t take hours of preparation.

Children matter. What they learn and how they learn matters. With engaging, Biblical curriculum and a dedicated team, we aim for every part of a Sunday morning in Mill City Kids to point kids to Jesus and create space where they can encounter his life-changing presence.