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!).
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.
We did a lot of research before we put together the plans for our new kids space. Here are some things that we intentionally included in our design:
1. Indoor Playground. This will be used for outreach during the week. It will be open 4 mornings a week to the community, completely free of charge. One morning a week is reserved for groups with special needs kids. The Indoor Playground will also serve as a place for families to connect on Sunday mornings. It creates an opportunity for people to build community.
2. Washrooms in each room. Each kids room has one or two washrooms in them. That way, once kids are checked in, they have no reason to leave until their parents pick them up.
3. Wide hallways. With the volume of people coming in to our space, it was necessary to have wide hallways so people could get where they needed to go.
4. Storage. We included space in each room for larger props (behind the stage) and smaller items in cupboards right in the room.
5. Sink. Each room has a counter with a sink in it. Great for washing hands & convenient clean up.
6. Self Check-In. Our check-in process is electronic. We have included 5 stations for self check in, and they are spread out in our atrium to avoid congestion of people.
7. Windows. Each class has lots of windows so people can see in the class. In most rooms, the stage is on the opposite wall so during story time, kid will not be distracted by people walking in the hallway.
8. Technology. All classrooms from Kindergarten & up have a projector, screen, stage lights & sound system in each room.
9. TVs. We have intentionally placed TVs in locations where people will be standing around. We can play video clips and announcements to communicate a variety of messages.
10. Themed Spaces. Our Themed areas are in areas where people will be connecting & kids will be playing. (entrance & playground room) We did not theme our kids rooms, but instead, made them interesting colours and patterns to keep the kid feel, but not distract from the theme of the lesson for the day.
Glenn Reinders from Reinders & Reider Ltd designed our kids area and entire new building. He has designed both kids areas at the churches I have been employed at. Best. Architect. Ever.
Bruce Barry from Wacky World designed our Entrance area. He drew sketches & we built it with our volunteer team. At the time of this post, we have not completed this area, so there are no pictures. When it is finished, I will post pics.
We did research by visiting churches & children’s museums including: Crossroads Church in Cincinnati, Christ Fellowship Church in West Palm Beach Florida, Willow Creek Church in Chicago, IL and children’s museums in Chicago, Indiana & Toronto.
I have been on a journey since I started working at my church 2.5 years ago. We have be in a building project and part of that project has included a new kids area. It’s been exciting to dream, research & design a new kids space. It has taken many meetings & emails to cover a zillion details. The most difficult part of this journey has been the last few months as the kids rooms have started to take shape. Sorting, packing & moving an entire kids ministry is a huge job. Transition of any kind is not usually easy for people, so helping hundreds of families make this transition has also been a process. Volunteers have worked countless hours far above and beyond what they signed up for so that the BIG MOVE could get done.
However, in the last few months, despite the chaos, and change, there has been very little complaining. There is excitement in the air, and people are filled with anticipation to see the new space open. People have stepped up to do work that needs to be done, and done so with a willing heart & attitude.
All of this work is for a building, but it’s just a building. Without the amazing team of volunteers to connect with the kids and the families, it is still just a building. It is a tool that will help us tell kids about God & grow closer to Jesus. We will use this tool to the very best of our ability, but the real ministry takes place as volunteers connect with kids and their families. We are looking forward to what God has planned in the new building. We are looking forward to the life change that will take place there.
Here are a few pics of our new space. In the next post, I will walk through some of the details that we intentionally included in our design.
We are in the middle of building a new kids area at my church. We are scheduled to move into our new space in 4 weeks. I am SUPER EXCITED about what lies ahead, but there are a LOT of details to look after in the next 4 weeks.
I have been doing a lot of research about Kids Spaces & Suppliers of ‘stuff’. Have you heard of Gressco? They make unique library and children’s commercial furniture. There are so many cool ideas in their catelogue. Everything from furniture to creative spaces & activity centers. If you have not heard of them, you should contact them & request a FREE catalog.