Your children’s ministry entrance area defines who you are and sets the tone for visiting guests. Make your entry area an extension of your ministry.
“A whole new world, That’s where we’ll be. A thrilling chase A wondrous place, For you and me.”
“Whole New World” from Disney’s Aladdin
In children’s ministry, we can experience what this song is about, but we don’t need a genie or a magic carpet to have “a whole new world”; that’s what Jesus promises us when we follow him. It’s what you create for children when they come to your church.
Wouldn’t you like to make your kids’ spiritual journey “a thrilling chase”? Wouldn’t you like to make your ministry efforts “a wondrous place” for kids? One of the best places to start is in the entryway to your ministry area in your building.
You’re probably familiar with the phrase, “You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.” This same principle applies to your children’s ministry. What do guests and kids think when they enter your facility? Are they underwhelmed or overwhelmed? Do they get excited — or do they look for the nearest exit?
The most visible investment you can make is in your entry area where every parent and child must pass before class or church begins. Your entrance defines who you are and sets the tone for guests’ visit. This is your first opportunity to envelop them with your ministry and Jesus’ embrace. There are several ways to make your entry area an extension of your ministry — from the simple to the sublime.
Most churches now use some type of official registration system — whether with sophisticated computer systems or simple badges and name tags. Regardless, in almost every church all parents need to stop somewhere to register their kids for their respective classrooms.
Your registration process is the perfect opportunity for kids to begin their wondrous experience in the presence of God — no need to wait until they get to the classroom. If you have a beach-themed worship room, your check-in area could be a surfside Tiki Hut where “lifeguards” hand out passes to the beach. If you have an urban city theme, your desk could be the post office where kids receive “mail” from their classrooms.
You can add a themed entry desk any time — whether you’re building, remodeling, or updating. Order a completely new desk ready to go or get murals to fit around your current setup. This can definitely be done affordably with some inspiration and creativity.
The Thrilling Chase
One of the growing trends in facilities across the country is the popularity of slides to transport kids to the children’s ministry area. Instead of just walking down a hallway to their classroom after they’re registered, kids excitedly mount a slide that carries them to their designated area. What a wonderful, kid-friendly way to start a church experience. Kids’ first impression is that church is a fun, welcoming place.
I’ve seen tube slides, spiral slides, speed slides, wave slides, triple slides, and more. Hyde Park Baptist Church in Lumberton, North Carolina, will have a slide that kids enter inside the second floor, spiral around on the outside of the building, then re-enter to be deposited on the first floor!
First Baptist Church in Nacogdoches, Texas, is taking the concept another step further with their 23-foot-long speed slide in their new building. Children’s pastor Tracy McCown says, “Our slide is in the atrium and it will be open before and after all church activities. The kids will use it as an exit so their last memory will be something fun. In addition, since it will be open prior to Sunday school, we are encouraging families to get there early in time for the kids to slide.”
Again, a slide can be incorporated in a current facility or planned for new construction. It’s best to consult with a respected manufacturer that can custom-design a slide to fit your facility and budget, while also factoring in the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards for safety.
Sign of the Times
Kids love an identifier that makes things familiar. Think about how many times your own kids will watch the same movie over and over and over. Or how quickly they spot the McDonald’s sign and tell you how much they “need” a Happy Meal right now!
By providing lots of signage, you can make your kids feel welcome at their second home — your church. Grace Community Church in Houston, Texas, is installing a large, lighted, overhead sign above the hallway entrance to their new children’s wing. In addition, their “XtremeKidz” logo is featured prominently throughout the building.
Children’s pastor Susie Dennard says, “Our logo sets the tone for the entire ministry. It speaks volumes to kids and parents alike as they enter our children’s ministry area. This place is for kids, and we understand what kids like!”