Our curriculum Is Age-based

Your Question:

“What are the ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ of switching to a large group / small group format? What are the curriculum options?

The Issues:

How the children are grouped greatly effects the curriculum and the entire CM team.  In the “traditional” age-based programs, children learn lessons at their own level.  In a large-group setting, children of multiple ages learn together. The issues in both settings are significant. In the age-based setting, more CM team are needed.  In a large-group setting, fewer CM team members are needed, yet it is challenging to develop relationships with the children.

Scripture Foundation:

“When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So, he began teaching them many things…Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.” Mark 6: 34-44

Short Answer:

Many churches switch from age-based CM groupings to large-group settings because the number of members on their CM team can no longer support all of the classes needed. Some churches make the switch because other churches have shifted to the large-group format.  Regardless of the reason, a shift from age-based to large-group requires significant adjustments in curriculum.  In a large-group setting, the programs can easily become “a show.”  The children sit in the audience and watch the “show” on stage.  This could be the greatest “con” of this format.  It is well established that people do not grow spiritually by watching a show.  This is why there should be a time during the large-group program in which the children are grouped into smaller groups for the sake of discussion and interaction.  This was what Jesus modeled for us when He fed the 5,000!  He spoke to the large group, but then broke the large group up into smaller groups for the “feeding.”  It is during the small groups that relationships are built, interactions happen, and the children are challenged to deepen their own relationships with Jesus.  The curriculum should provide ideas for both the large group session and the small group interactions.  If you cannot find a curriculum that does both well, you may need to create your own plans to fill in the “gaps” in the purchased curriculum. For more help, click on the links below.

View other articles in the “Developing The Curriculum APPENDIX”

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