Brummelen offers some help in this decision making process when he says, â€œThe guiding principle for justifying curriculum decisions is whether the curriculum enhances the possibility of studentsâ€™ becoming responsible and responsive disciples of Jesus Christ.â€ The researcher begins with the assumption that the Christian teacher desires to teach his student Christian doctrine from the Bible. Therefore, the curriculum that teaches the Bible one should ask, â€œWhich ones direct the student to change and become more like Christ?â€
Brummelen also offers a list of questions that are helpful in making a curriculum choice;Â “Do students become familiar with and experience a Christian worldview and its implications for life in society? Do students investigate and build on their experiences with the world around them? Do they learn about and respond to what for them is new and significant knowledge? Do they learn how humans have developed culture and how they have taken care of the earth, both in positive and negative ways? Are students given opportunities to develop their diverse abilities? Do they create products, procedures, and theories that unfold Godâ€™s reality and develop their own gifts? Do they use their learning to contribute to life both inside and outside the school? Does the curriculum encourage them to be and become servant leaders? Do students become aware of and critique the shared meanings of our culture? Do students begin to understand key trends in society and develop their personal response? Do they learn to discern and confront the negative aspects of our culture? Do they respond to and have the opportunity to choose and commit themselves to a biblical way of life?”
On a foundational level, whoever is choosing which curriculum will be used, or if one decides to write the curriculum oneself, there must be a set of beliefs and learning objectives that is looked for in order to be able make any kind of informed decision. Can the person choosing one lesson over another, or one curriculum over another, justify their decision based upon a set of learning and life change goals?
John Dettoni suggests that a guide for spiritual formation is found in several passages of Scripture. He gives,Â Romans 12:2, â€œDo not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.â€ Galatians 4:19, â€œMy dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you.â€
Matthew 28:19, â€œTherefore go and make disciples of all nations.â€Â Colossians 1:28-29, â€œWe proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.â€ and Ephesians 4:13, â€œuntil we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.â€
Dettoni suggests that from these passages one can lay a foundation that has three major areas: formation, disciple, and maturity. Dettoni explains that spiritual formation based on these passages should be where the â€œinner being of the person is radically altered so that he or she is no longer the same. Information alone will not make the difference. The person who has taken in the information has been reshaped, remolded, and significantly altered by the active transformation of the data into meaning for oneself.â€
Oliva believes â€œthat using a model in such an activity as curriculum development can result in greater efficiency and productivity. Oliva gives insight that is helpful for this topic when he says, â€œCurriculum development is seen as the process for making programmatic decisions and for revising the products of those decisions on the basis of continuous and subsequent evaluation.â€
The researcher believes that these â€œprogrammatic decisionsâ€ for a churchâ€™s foundational teaching should use an inductive method of determining curriculum where the actual development of the curriculum is established and then go a generalization from there. In other words, one should not determine what is going on in the lives of the children and build the lessons around those needs.
Instead, teaching should begin with the Bible and teach it in such a way that includes what is transpiring in the lives of the children. Modeling can help churches in this process of determining what to teach and what not to teach. This decision making process helps the developer to consider relevant issues.
Ralph Tyler proposed a model for curriculum planning. He proposes that curriculum developers could ask, â€œWhat educational purposes should the school seek to attain?, What educational experiences can be provided that are likely to attain these purposes?, How can these educational experiences be effectively organized?, and How can we determine whether these purposes are being attained?â€
While these questions are designed for a school environment, they are very applicable to the church. This process breaks material down into â€œsmall, manageable, and measureable behavioral objectives.â€ In discussing Tylerâ€™s model for curriculum development Brummelen says,Â “The rationale has no place for considering overall aims rooted in a worldview.
It only allows some objectives from a list suggested by subject specialists and others to be filtered out by philosophical and psychological discrepancies. It also assumes that teachers are technicians who are to follow instructions for processing students efficiently. The result is that the way the rationale has been used fits especially the process/mastery orientation to curriculum.”
Three sources could be drawn from in making curriculum choices: â€œthe learners, contemporary life outside of school and the subject matter.â€ Once the material has been established it is then filtered through two screens: the social philosophy of the school and the psychology of learning.
The various objectives and material that make it through these screens is what is organized into teaching segments. When Tyler refers to â€œgoals,â€ â€œeducational objectives,â€ and â€œeducational purposesâ€, he is referring to what is to be taught in the school setting. But this model could assist the church is making curriculum decisions.
The church begins by identifying its source or sources. The screens that the church passes its decisions through (i.e., philosophy and psychology) begin with the Bible as the source of teaching materials. At this point in the process there is more potential teaching material than one would have time to teach in a short period of time.
From there one could proceed to choose teaching material based upon the vision, direction, current needs of the congregation, or even church tradition. Then passing through the churchâ€™s philosophy of education and psychology of learning â€œscreens,â€ more precise teaching objectives will begin to appear.
 Brummelen, Steppingstones to Curriculum, 16.
 John Dettoni, The Christian Educatorâ€™s Handbook on Spiritual Formation (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1997), 14.
 Ibid., 15.
 Ibid., 143.
 Peter Olivia, Developing Curriculum, 4th Edition (New York, NY: Longman, 1997), 144.
 Brummelen, Steppingstones to Curriculum, 43.
 Ibid., 40.
 Olivia, Developing the Curriculum, 145.