This is the third in a three part series on how to create a curriculum plan for your youth ministry. In step 1, we developed lists of what we want our youth to know, feel, or do while they are in the youth ministry. In step 2, we placed topics in buckets and selected a structure that worked best for our ministry context. Now, we need to begin to hang specific content on a schedule or calendar that we can use.
If you have not prioritized the content you placed in each bucket, you will want to do so. You would think 6 years is enough time to teach youth the Bible and it would be if you met with them more than once or twice a week. As you begin to create your curriculum plan schedule, make sure you know what topics are essentials and which topics are not.
We recommend using a table, Excel, or simply pencil and paper to build a calendar where you can fit your curriculum bucket pieces together. In the first column, you will put the dates of each Sunday school lesson or Bible study or youth group meeting. If you are working on a curriculum plan for more than one meeting time. You will need a different table for each curriculum plan.
Begin filling in your calendar with dates when you will not have a regular lesson or will not meet ie. holidays, breaks, and special events. Now you are ready to begin to insert your topics from your buckets. What time of the year makes the most sense for this topic? How many weeks will we spend on it? Begin to fill in your topical framework for the year until you have something that looks like this:
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You final step is to choose the curriculum to go with each topic. This step can take the longest amount of time. You will want to investigate what curriculums are available on your given subject. If possible, you would like to be able to review them before ordering. This part of the plan is a tedious task and when looking for certain topics can be frustrating. Why aren’t their any youth resources on Leviticus? Because, publishers don’t believe it will sell well.
Keep in mind that their is no perfect curriculum. I’d rate very few curriculum’s as great and just because they are great for me doesn’t mean that they are great for you. Curriculum is a tool and therefore it must be used properly. Being able to answer the question what do you or your leaders need help with when creating a lesson is a helpful way to sort through curriculum. See my post on “5 Questions to help you find Good Curriculum” to help you with the process. An important part of the long-term plan is evaluation, so if you are building a topical curriculum plan know that you are only going to use it 4-6 weeks and then you can evaluate it. If it was not helpful or effective, you can make a note to choose something else for that topic next time.
After you choose your curriculum, then you can choose the specific lessons from the curriculum that you’d like to cover. If you are doing 6 weeks on the Psalms, then you will choose 6 of the 13 lessons that you like from the resource. Do not feel like you have to cover every lesson. Remember its your plan, but you will also find yourself adjusting your schedule to accommodate a resource that is 6 weeks long and you only planned for 4. It’s ok. Be flexible until you get something that works for your church and the resources that you will use.
Our recommendation is to tackle one-year at a time. Get the first year in place and then schedule time each May to work on the next year. You don’t have to plan all 6 years in two weeks. You will also learn which curriculum sources you like and trust.
If you are going to be intentional about discipling youth, then having a plan for what you are going to teach your youth is essential. Whether you choose to use a curriculum that is a 6-year plan or whether you build it on your own, make sure that you have thoughtfully and prayerfully chosen and developed one that fits your ministry.