When I was visiting The Grove Community Church in Riverside, California, I saw a system that they used to help motivate kids to listen & participate. They used ping pong balls to give to the kids when they brought their Bible, or a friend, etc. At the end of the service, the kids could put the ping pong balls that they earned into their display box. The group who filled their box first was rewarded with a pizza party. I liked that the reward system was visual for the kids, and they worked together to achieve a goal.
On a recent trip to California, I went to visit Sandals Church. This amazing group of people showed us around their building & shared their stories of what they are doing to see people come to know Jesus. Here are a few things that I learned from our visit with them.
1. Their average weekend attendance is 5799 people and in 2014 they had 3890 first time attenders. They run 7 services at 2 locations each weekend.
2. Their kids and youth area were themed in a way that was appropriate for each age group, yet it all tied into the look of the whole building.
3. They have some creative people on their kids staff who write their own songs & make videos for their kids worship. It was fantastic! (Shout out to Andrew & thank you for giving me a jump drive of your videos at CPC. You rock!)
4. They had bulletin board for their volunteers where they communicated “stuff” with their volunteers.
5. Kids got a button on their birthday (just like at Disney!).
This past weekend, we had the Grand Opening of our new church building which has been under construction for over a year. We built a new kids area, renovated our office space, and built a 2nd auditorium that seats 300 people.
Having a Grand Opening creates an opportunity to invite people to come and see your facility & experience a little bit of what your church is like. Here is what we did for our Grand Opening.
Saturday Open House: (drop in format & people could stay as long or a little as they liked)
Kids Entertainment. We had 7 activities or shows happening at various times throughout the kids area which included:
- Birds Of Prey Show – a Raptor Conservatory that brought live birds for everyone to see
- Kids Music Entertainer – did 2 interactive shows for families
- Disney Princesses – 6 teens/adults dressed in costume and looked a lot like the Disney Princesses that you would see at a Disney Theme Park. Families could meet & greet & take photos with the princesses.
- Indoor Playground – our newly installed playground was open for families
- Craft Room – tables, chairs, supplies & craft examples for families to make together
- Balloon Animals – volunteers made balloon animals/shapes for kids
- Interactive Electronic Puppet – a software program we purchased from Little Mountain Productions.
Food – Several areas throughout the church had food stations for people to pick up a snack.
Decorations – We ordered punch balloons that had our logo on it. We started a few days before grand opening to blow up all the balloons. We used a tree stump as a base, and then attached a pole to the base. We put the punch balloon elastics over the poles to create balloon pillars.
Give Aways – Kids could take a punch balloon home with them on their way out.
Other Entertainment – The youth band, and a drum circle did several shows in other parts of the building.
Ministry Displays – Many of our ministries made a display for people to see. This helped give people an idea of some of the programs that are offered at our church.
Sunday Dedication Service – We had a service to dedicate the building. We invited the trades who worked on the project as well as dignitaries from our area. We also included a ribbon cutting in the service.
Here are some pics of the youth/student ministries area at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California.
I am enjoying being in sunny, warm California in the middle of February. I am attending the Children’s Pastor’s Conference in Ontario, California. While I am here, I am taking the opportunity to visit churches in the area, and learn from their staff & volunteer teams in Children’s Ministry.
Here are some pictures of the main campus of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest. Their staff were more than friendly and very willing to share their ideas and information with us.
They have a separate building for their kids ministry. Around the outside of the building, they have several areas that they can use as teaching spaces. The tomb & 3 crosses are a great place to take kids to teach them about the death & resurrection of Jesus. The stone wall with windows make a great backdrop for just about any story.
Each room in the 3 story building, had age appropriate toys, games & interactive spaces where kids could connect before the lesson began. The preschool room had little doors that could be inserted into the doorway of any regular door. The older kids area had an entire wall that was a whiteboard. They did a great job of making each room age appropriate & fun for kids.
They used a WIN system for the volunteers in each room.
W – Welcome – the person responsible for welcoming each child as they enter, & help them get their name tag
I – Integration – helped kids move from the door & get connected with other friends
N – Networking – this volunteer kept everyone on schedule & doing the activities for the service
In the next blog post, I will share pictures & ideas from the student ministries building.
Every year we have a volunteer training event in September. We review the safety stuff as well as the vision and values. It’s a chance for new volunteers to learn the basics and returning volunteers to be reminded about why we do what we do.
Volunteer Training Manuals can be boring to read. We decided it was important to work on making it look interesting so that it was easy to read. Here is the link to our Volunteer Training Book. You can download a copy and use it as a sample to create your own volunteer training book.
Yesterday I had a great day enjoying some time with my daughter at the American girl store. We booked a reservation to attend their Bistro. While we were sitting there, we noticed a box in the middle of the table. The box had small strips of paper with questions on them. The questions are meant to spark conversations while sitting at the table. The kids at the table enjoyed asking the rest of us questions and hearing our responses.
There are many conversation starter sets available for free on the internet. Pinterest is loaded with them. You can even put scripture verses in a small container and pull them out as you sit around the table as a family. What other ideas do you use to encourage discussion around the dinner table?