I have to admit something — I often get quite frustrated with many children’s ministry curriculum and studies. At best, I find many of them to be shallow and only slightly connected to the full story of the Gospel and how the Gospel is for both unbelievers (justification) and believers (sanctification). At worst, I’ve seen more than a few that flat-out do not present the full Gospel, or even present error for the sake of “making it simple.”
Now don’t get me wrong — while that is the case with a lot of children’s ministry material I have come across, it is not true of all of it. There are some very Gospel-centered and solid studies out there. You just have to search for them and wade through the bad.
A New Study
Thankfully, there’s a very good children’s VBS curriculum that has come out recently that I want to let you know about. It is called PROOF Pirates and is written by the guys at Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, KY. Just listen to the opening description of the study:
“We believe that the gospel is a life-changing message for all who hear it — kids included! So we want our children to hear about God’s grace in Christ Jesus and to learn how it shapes our lives and makes us who we are as Christians. This week, your kids will soak up this message as you embark together on this pirate-themed adventure anchored in the book of Ephesians.”
Amen! Did you notice it? The Gospel connected to both justification (“life-changing message”) and sanctification (“shapes our lives and makes us who we are as Christians”).
PROOF Pirates is a curriculum written by Sojourn Kids, the children’s ministry of Sojourn Church, and is based on a book that their Pastor, Daniel Montgomery, wrote in 2014: PROOF: Finding Freedom through the Intoxicating Joy of Irresistible Grace.
The curriculum uses the acronym PROOF as the framework for a five-lesson exploration of God’s Grace. God’s grace is:
So we’ve established what the study is about and that its content is spot-on … now what is included in the leaders kit? If you’re interested in possibly using this study for your church or ministry, what do you get?
- DVD-ROM — This includes PDFs with a director’s guide (which includes a very detailed 10-month check list leading up to VBS), a leaders guide with all of the music, drama, and scripts, a classroom guide for preschool and elementary including guides for bible study, crafts, games, etc, as well as PowerPoint presentations, customizable posters, Facebook banners, and all sorts of advertising resources.
- Family Devotional — This is one of my favorite aspects to this study. In addition to the lessons that the kids will be involved in throughout the week, you would also order each student one of these family devotionals that would go home with them and enable their parents to continue the study with their kids and further enhance what they are learning at VBS.
- Audio CD — There are 6 songs on the CD that go with the different lessons. All of the lead sheets, chord charts, hand motions, etc, can be found in the Leader Guide. To be honest, this is probably the weakest area of the study in my opinion. It’s not that the songs aren’t good, I just do not know if they are appealing enough to kids to keep them engaged.
- Are You Close to God? Evangelistic Booklet — This would be another thing that you would purchase for each kid and send home along with the family devotional.
- Silicone Wristband — Another send-home item.
- Iron-on Shirt Transfer — Finally, there is an iron-on transfer for you to use to make shirts for the kids coming to the VBS.
All of these items are included in the leader’s starter kit, and the individual components needed for the kids can be purchased separately through the New Growth website.
Overall, I think that PROOF Pirates is a great children’s study. It is one of the best I’ve seen in terms of biblical content. It includes all of the necessary components needed for a leader to effectively plan a VBS week (or other summer children’s problem). As I mentioned above, my only complaint would be the music. In my experience, kids love high energy and engaging songs. I did not think that these 6 songs accomplished that. However, that is by no means a reason, for me, to not choose this study.
I would recommend this study if you are a children’s pastor or children’s leader looking for curriculum for a summer VBS or other program. PROOF Pirates is a children’s study with clearly gospel-centered content — a refreshingly rare thing in the sea of children’s material today.
In accordance with FTC regulations, I would like to thank New Growth Press for providing me with a review copy of this curriculum in exchange for a fair and honest review.