On a recent visit to Woodstock City Church in Atlanta, I was able to get a behind the scenes tour of their room for kids with special needs. The staff person in the room was super helpful and explained how their program works. Here are some pics from my visit to their campus.
I was so impressed to see what Woodstock City Church does to celebrate birthdays for kids. The kids look forward to their Birthday all year long so that they can visit the Birthday Cart. The Birthday Cart is pretty exciting, but it doesn’t compare to the PERSON who is at the Birthday Cart. I did not find out this person’s name, but he was amazing as he celebrated each child and their birthday.
Recently I went to the Drive Conference at Northpoint Church in Atlanta, GA. It was like drinking from a firehose. I learned so much and took so many pitures. I decided to share my info with all of you in hopes that you can learn from them just like I did.
Before the conference began, I had the opportunity to tour Woodstock City Church, and spend a lot of time behind the scenes. Woodstock City Church is one of Northpoint Church’s campuses. They use the same curriculum, systems and processes. Their staff and volunteers were absolutely incredible. Over the next few posts I will share with you all kinds of things that I learned and show you pictures of some of the things that they do to make their kids ministry awesome! Today I’m going to show you some of the pics from the Preschool Area, aka, Waumba Land.
When I was visiting The Grove Community Church in Riverside, California, I saw a kids church reward system that they used to help motivate kids to listen & participate. They also used this system to encourage families to work on the family activity page together, and to return it the following week.
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 Sandals Church Tour.
I love to visit other churches and see what their spaces look like. Scroll through the pics above of the Saddleback Youth 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 Saddleback kids area at 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.
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 area. 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.
Crossroads church in Cincinnati, does a great job of communicating to parents what the lesson was about in the kids program. At the door of each room they have door signs that they change each week. They list 2 questions that parents can ask their child to start a discussion about that day’s lesson. I loved that it was simple, visual, and user friendly!
Food Allergies are common in children. Kids Ministry should be a place where kids are safe & details such as food allergies are important. When I was at Crossroads Church they told me about their system when it comes to Food Allergies.
Does your church have a clear plan for emergencies? Crossroads Church does. In fact, it’s so clear, that they have a Safety Manual displayed in each Kids Room. Each Manual is custom made with instructions for that specific room. The staff was kind enough to give me permission to share their Safety Manual on my blog with pictures for everyone to see. Hopefully it will inspire you to make a plan for emergencies that is clear for your volunteers.
Keeping vision in front of volunteers is one of the most important things you will do as a Kids Ministry Leader. Reminding people over and over of why they do what they do. On my most recent trip to Crossroads Church in Cincinnati, I was reminded of something that they do to keep the vision in front of their volunteers. Many of their kids ministry rooms have a picture wall. The pictures are specific to the ministry that happens in that room.
When I went to visit Church in the Son in Orlando, I saw this volunteer badge. I thought it was a great idea to assign someone the official position of RUNNER. This person could get more supplies, or go page a parent, or ‘run’ to get what ever was needed. This could be a great job for an older child or teenager. Finding ways to involve kids teaches them the importance of serving, and they don’t need to be an adult before they can serve.
What other roles do you have that kids or youth can do?
I am getting ready to go on a church tour. I am taking some of my key leaders from my Kids Ministry with me. We will drive for about 8 hours one direction, do a little shopping in the US (something Canadians get quite excited about), and spend time attending various classes & services at the church we will be visiting. We will spend time together in the vehicles and get to know each other in the process. We will ask a million questions to our gracious hosts (aka Kids Ministry Staff & Volunteers) . We will come home with our brains ready to explode from all that we saw, heard & experienced.
The Student Center at Northview Church in Carmel, Indiana was amazing! They had a separate building for their student ministries. This area was done in a surfing theme and it looked really great! Scroll through the photos above to see what we saw on our church tour at Northview.
On the walls before you enter one of the Elementary Classes at Willow Creek Church you will find these signs. Here are some of the benefits of having these signs displayed:
Intentional – Each part of the service time is very intentional. There is no downtime or wasted time. These signs communicate what will be happening during the service.
Communicates to Kids – It lets the kids know where the boundaries are and what is expected during each of these elements.
Communicates to Parents – As parents walk past these signs, they are also reminded about what is happening in the room & where the boundaries are for kids while they are there.
I have been to Willow Creek Church many times and each time I go I see something new. During my last visit, I saw this prayer wall in one of the kids rooms. I thought it was a great visual for kids to see their prayers represented on the different colored papers. They took time in their small groups to think of something to pray for, write it down, and put their paper on the wall.
Sometimes volunteers in classrooms need assistance. Maybe a child needs a parent, or they need help to clean up a spill, or they need more volunteers.
An easy way to get the attention of a hall monitor or Kids Director is to use this sign. I saw this when I went to visit Northpoint Community Church in Atlanta. Each preschool room had one of these signs that they could just wave out the door when they needed someone. As long as someone is assigned to being a hall monitor, this system could work!
On one of my trips to Orlando, I was able to visit Calvary Church. I was pleasantly surprised when I walked into their elementary kids room and saw this stage! Here are some of the things I loved about this stage:
Color: It had bright colors everywhere!
Multilevel: There were lots of options for people to appear from several different entrance points.
Stairs: They had 2 stair options and they were both different.
How it was made: Home Depot was the place they got most of their supplies. Every kind of hose & pipe you could imagine. They just painted them cool colors and it made an instant kid-friendly design.
Faux Design – There were gadgets and gizmos everywhere. Buttons and levers, but none of them were real. In fact they just used stuff from Home Depot, and made it look like they were real. They also painted the wall with highlights and shadows to make it appear 3-D.
DIY – This was a DIY project. They didn’t hire a contractor or creative architect to design & build this for them. With a little creativity & some hard work, you could build a stage like this too!
I was the kids pastor at Calvary Assembly in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada for almost 12 years before I moved to my current position at Creekside Church in Waterloo, Ontario. I researched & visited Kids Spaces across Canada and the US for several years before building this Kids Ministry Space. It was the first church in Canada to have 3 levels of Themed Environment Space. Bruce Barry from Wacky World Studios designed and installed the kids area. I met him at a Conference in Chicago, and several weeks later Bruce came to visit us in Canada. A year later, our space was completed and transformed into an amazing space for kids! I thought I would share with you some pics from the church tour in Cambridge.
One of the first church tours I ever went to was at Granger Community Church in Granger, IN. Their creativity and innovation was like nothing I had ever seen before. (well, other than Disney) Every kids room was designed in a different theme. They even had slides that took you from the kids check in area, right into the class room. When kids landed in the room, they could look at the monitor and wave good-bye to their parents. The parents could wave back using cameras and monitors at both ends of the slides.
What I love about themed spaces is it communicates to kids… “we think you are pretty important and we hope you have fun here”. If kids want to come to church they will beg their parents to bring them. That means more opportunities to tell them about Jesus and build relationships with them.
I went to visit Church In the Son in Orlando Florida. Their Sunday morning program for kids is called G.A.K. (God’s Anointed Kids) They have worked hard to create a space that kids will want to come to so they can teach them about Jesus. Here’s what I loved about this kids space:
The Look – They took tables, chairs, sofas etc and painted them or made them look new again in a way that screams “We love kids”.
Game Center – Kids love video games. They included this in their design so that kids had the option to choose an activity that was already familiar to them when they arrived.
Activity Center Area – They had lots of room to include spaces for kids to build relationships with other kids and with volunteers.
Stage – Their set was ‘interactive’. It included video as well as different places where people could appear from behind the set. They also had tons of storage space behind their set.
Mailboxes – Kids could write letters to the kids pastor, or to different characters that appeared on the stage for different stories.
Lobby – This area matched the color scheme of the GAK room and had signs that clearly communicated where people should take their children and where to pick them up.
Stairs – The place is massive. They do a great job of moving high volumes of people quickly and easily.
Check In Area – This is mainly for first time guests. They give you a DVD of a typical day in Promiseland when you come for the first time. Their greeters are super friendly and helpful. Other check-in areas are located in various locations & entrances.
Kids Area – This is technically a hallway (very wide) or gathering space outside of several rooms. Parents connected in this area before/after services.
Activity Panels – Kids and parents can have fun at church together. Also keeps kids occupied while parents chat. Activity Panels are interchangeable. I have been here at various times and some of the panels were different.
Nursery Hallway – The nursery area consisted of many rooms that all looked very similar. This hallway was the common area for all these rooms.
Nursery Drop Off Window – Love that the children are passed over the counter & only volunteers were allowed in the rooms. Less traffic & less chance for little ones to get stepped on or escape.
I hear that the kids ministry area at Willow Creek church is currently under renovation. I will have to update this post when I get new pictures of their new kids space!