How to Lead Your Children’s Ministry: Strategy Curriculum Vs. Topical

Leading a kids ministry is no easy feat, and it can feel like there is an endless amount of organizing to do, resources to gather, and energy to bring to the table. While there are countless curriculum options available, this can make the decision-making process feel overwhelming.

Grant Glas
March 8, 2022
Kids Ministry Curriculum

The good news is, whatever your church size and budget may be, there is something perfect out there for you. With free children's ministry curriculum lessons widely available online for those who need it, and strategy curricula for churches that want long and lasting impact, how you run your church comes down to a question of preference.

So, which is the best way to run your children's ministry? Read on as we look at the pros and cons of do-it-yourself curriculum methods or all-in-one packages so you can make the right decision for your community. 

Topical Non-Structured Curriculum

Kid smiling and running



Allowing ministry leaders something that’s rarely seen with a set curriculum, this option means total freedom. Whether you want to spend weeks going over a seasonal topic or feel like skipping it altogether, the power is in your hands when you choose the DIY route. This way, if kids express interest or boredom in a subject, you can decide how much time to dedicate to it.


Some classes provided by a curricula package can feel tone-deaf when taught to a specific group of students. You know your kids better than anyone, so making their curriculum relevant to them can help classes be more meaningful. Let the kids of your community learn the value of Christ through classes that align with their unique experiences.


As there are endless free ministry resources online, choosing to do it yourself can be a great choice to save some money. So if your church budget is stretching a little too thin or you are saving up for some improvements, scaling back on curriculum costs can help.



While thoughts of total freedom sound incredibly appealing, the reality tends to be very different. Instead, when church leaders have the power to choose every week, they need to be highly organized to keep the curriculum fresh. Otherwise, half-hearted classes can end up getting repeated as the students suffer from a lack of vision.

Lower Quality

Intelligent and experienced leaders of children’s education are often the people spearheading the designs of set curriculums. So when you choose to go it alone, you sacrifice access to some of the most premium resources out there. While this isn’t always the case, and your thoroughly thought-out DIY curriculum could tick all the boxes, some things are best left to the experts.

Set Strategy Curriculum

Kids having fun with Think Orange curriculum



When you sign up for a strategy curriculum, you also sign up for the long-term vision. Classes are designed to complement students' learning from preschool to high school and sometimes even further. Lessons are stacked this way so that they complement each other. Instead of a random selection of materials that vary from year to year and child to child, strategy curriculums have thought of it all.

Premium Quality

Some of the Christian world’s leading child development experts and educational leaders have designed children’s ministry curriculum. While we all have gifts to share with the world, few can rival the outstanding curriculum options brought to us by leading providers such as Think Orange


With a pre-decided curriculum, organization on Sundays will become a breeze. Ditch the stressful Saturday evenings filled with scrambling for resources so you can have everything ready and waiting from the moment you sign up. It can get even easier than that when you pair it with the Playlister church presentation software, which has the curriculum content connected to your timetable so it effortlessly appears in the room where it's needed.



With prime quality comes a larger price tag, naturally. But, while the cost is up there with some curriculum providers, most will let you adapt the package to perfectly fit the number of students you have in your class. That way, you can save some money if your church is smaller, so you only pay for what you need. But as they say, time is money, so you have to balance the cost with how much time you save in the process.

Less Freedom

The main appeal of a DIY curriculum is freedom, which is something you get less of with a pre-organized set of Sunday school lessons. But, as nothing is forcing you to do every single class, if your intuition kicks in and you realize a particular topic isn’t suitable for your kids, skip it! Similarly, if you have an object lesson in mind that you have been waiting to go through with them or a seasonal and fun idea, feel free to do it.

From small intimate church groups to extensive sprawling church networks, having a central curriculum to rely on can transform how your ministry functions. By providing your students and their parents with a coherent plan of their education, they can take greater responsibility and feel more in control of their learning. Plus, signing up to a curriculum means joining a group and, ultimately, gaining an additional church family. For this reason, a strategy curriculum is the most popular choice for most children’s ministries.

Want to hear what Children's ministry leaders top 5 tips?

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