When parents ask their kids what they want to do tonight, they
say, ‘We want to go to church!’ ” says children’s pastor Bob
Schickedanz from Glenview Baptist Church in Fort Worth,
Since installing the 33-foot-tall tree-themed modular play feature
at Glenview, parents and children have inevitably been awed by the
uniqueness and creativity of the children’s building. This church
is effectively using this play feature to draw in new people, reach
out to the community, and make a difference in the lives of
Churches across the country are seeing the same response to their
innovative play areas. Church is no longer a place that’s dull,
boring, and quiet. Now it’s a place that’s entertaining, engaging,
and a complete sensory experience. It’s a place where stories of
the Bible come to life with themed environments and interactive
So why not transform your children’s ministry efforts with a
dynamic play space, too?
Play Space Appeal
Using children’s play areas mirrors the same approach used in the
fast-food industry. Parents don’t typically enjoy eating at
McDonald’s, but the kids love it and therefore bring their parents
along with them. When this happens, McDonald’s is successful in
feeding the parents and kids. In the same way, children are having
wonderful experiences at church, wanting to go back, and are
bringing their parents with them. Churches are then able to
spiritually feed the parents and the children.
These distinctive play areas are a magnet for new guests and
attract those who otherwise wouldn’t have thought about attending
church. Bob Carter with First Baptist Church in Warrensburg,
Missouri, says their new, colorful, 26-foot-tall play attraction
sends a message to families.
“I want the parents to see our play feature and know that we love
kids and provide a fun, exciting, loving place for their family to
worship,” Carter says. “We want to reach people who think church is
a boring place.”
The castle-themed children’s ministry at First Christian Church in
Canton, Ohio, is counting on a new themed attraction to assist
their expanded efforts. Children’s pastors Ryan and Melissa Wolfe
are working on their new feature: an 800-square-foot, 21-foot-tall
indoor play feature.
“We want to get the kids excited about church,” Ryan Wolfe says.
“We will provide them with a fun experience and something they
can’t get elsewher — -a relationship with Jesus Christ. This is an
added feature to help bring the kids in and keep them coming
Just as with these churches, an innovative play space can
literally open the doors to a community of people who wouldn’t have
even thought of attending your church before. Then you can
spiritually feed the entire family.
Any play area needs to be something that grabs the parents’ and
kids’ attention upon entering and delivers that “WOW” effect. You
want an attraction that says to the parents that you take teaching
their kids seriously and says to the kids that this will be an
enjoyable learning experience.
Bruce Barry of Wacky World Studios has literally changed the face
of churches all across the country over the past few years with his
unique themed environments.
Barry says, “Today’s generation is accustomed to a high-tech
world. It’s no wonder they’re easily bored with old methods of
teaching. We give churches the difference they need to compete with
the distractions that our kids face today. Knowing what appeals to
children of the new millennium can create an environment that’ll
have the kids in your town begging their parents to bring them to
Since opening their new facility with the inspiring tree-themed
modular play unit, Glenview Baptist’s children’s ministry
attendance has increased 30 percent. The towering, themed play
feature has simply become known as The Tree. Glenview is only 20
minutes from my house, and I’ve met more than a dozen people in the
last few months who don’t even go to church there but who know
about The Tree. What an amazing outreach for a children’s
Grand openings of signature at- tractions such as Glenview
Baptist’s are typically front-page articles for the local
newspapers. Several facilities have offered “soft launches” on
Saturday by inviting the entire community and media to see their
new attraction. When you’re opening an innovative and creative new
play area, the community wants to know about it and the local paper
will cover it. This leads to more people knowing about your church
and more people wanting to know what you’re about.
Your church’s signature attraction — whether it’s a themed area,
a play feature, or anything — can lead more people to the only
true signature attraction — Jesus Christ.