When choosing a curriculum (especially when intentionally choosing a curriculum using these questions), the hope is that you’ll be able to use the curriculum as is. Unfortunately, that very rarely happens. Instead, you’ll likely have to tweak the curriculum to make it work in your setting. Here are seven ways to tweak curriculum.
1. Adjust the timing.
A curriculum will very rarely match your specific timeframe. So, add or delete content in order to make it work in your setting. If a curriculum is too long, you might have to show a clip rather than an entire video; cut entire sections; or trim questions from a discussion. For example, because I have a short Sunday morning gathering time, I rarely use all of the video in a video-driven curriculum. Instead, I’ll choose a key clip and show it to save time. In contrast, if a curriculum is too short, you might have to add an additional clip, activity, or discussion.
2. Change the format.
The more you know the teens in your ministry, the more you can tailor curriculum for them by adjusting its format. For example, once I learned that my teens do NOT like being lectured at, I began reformatting talk-based curriculum into discussions. Having someone else’s talk as my outline still made my work considerably easier. It gave me a starting point and enabled me to use their Scripture passages and points to write a discussion that actually worked in my setting.
3. Contextualize theology.
Curriculums are written with certain theological slants to them. It’s up to you to know what the theological bent of the curriculum is and whether or not that’ll fly in your context. If it won’t, then you need to contextualize the theology for your setting. As an example, when I was in grad school, one of our assignments was to work through a specific evangelism-focused curriculum with our youth ministries. Had I been searching for a curriculum, this is one I never would have chosen. Even though it was well-written and theologically sound, it wasn’t theologically suitable in my mainline context where, as a whole, we don’t talk about evangelism in the same way that more evangelical settings do. So, I had to adjust it. I showed the videos that I thought would challenge my teens. Then I wrote new discussion questions – ones that didn’t abandon the concept of evangelism but instead, altered it to make sense in our context. Because it was so different than what we normally discuss, this series actually became one of my students’ favorites of the year.
4. Modify the content to meet your long-term goal of who you want your students to become.