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The Space Squeeze

If you’re in a growing church, you’re facing an age-old
challenge-a space crunch. So how can you uncrunch the space you
have? Check out these ideas.

Space Expanders

If you want to stretch the space you have:

  • Meet as a large group. If you don’t have
    enough space for separate age groups to meet, combine age groups
    and meet in one large area.
  • Split your Sunday school. If your church has
    more than one service, provide one session during each
  • Use dividers. Purchase or make room dividers.
    Delia Halverson of Florida uses refrigerator boxes, pianos,
    portable chalkboards and book shelves to separate areas for several
    classes to meet in one classroom. You can also use balloons,
    parachutes, curtains, streamers or bedsheets hung from the
  • Set up learning centers. Ken Sears’ Minnesota
    church has one learning center with a tepee and an electric fire.
    Children rotate into this and other centers.
  • Make the most of large areas. Use the gym,
    fellowship hall, kitchen or the janitor’s room for large-group
    crafts and games or for extra meeting space. Encourage adults to
    meet in the sanctuary to provide more classrooms for children.
  • Use small areas creatively. Let classes spill
    into your office, the hallways or under stairwells. And what about
    that musty storage room?
  • Capitalize on nearby areas. In Los Angeles,
    Janice Sakuma’s children’s program meets in a nearby park during
    the summer. They’ve also pitched a tent on their church parking
    lot. If you have a nearby school or warehouse, check into what it
    would cost to rent that space on Sunday mornings.
  • Meet in church members’ homes. The New
    Testament church did it! And if you have church members’ homes near
    your church, you might be able to do it, too.
  • Organize rooms. Put away tables and chairs and
    have children sit on the floor. Store toys and supplies in stacking
    containers. Add shelves on doors. Hang nets for balls or stuffed

Portable Ideas

If you share space with a weekday program:

  • Communicate. Determine who’s financially
    responsible for any broken materials ahead of time. Clearly
    communicate expectations and resolve conflicts immediately. Plan an
    informal time at least once a year for both staffs to meet
  • Respect the other group’s space. To ward off
    problems, use bedsheets to cover room areas that are off-limits to
    your group. Use your own supplies and clean up afterward. Don’t
    forget to take the bedsheets with you!
  • Transport materials. Dan Morgan’s church in
    Texas has rented meeting space on Sundays for 13 years. They use
    plastic containers with lids to store and deliver materials for
    each class. They also transport 10 collapsible cribs for the

Building for Growth

If your church decides to build:

  • Don’t fence it in. Build rooms with movable
    walls to maintain flexibility in room sizes.
  • Have multipurpose rooms. One room in Delia
    Halverson’s church serves as her office during the week. On Sunday,
    folding doors shut off the office part and the rest of the room
    serves as the church nursery.
  • Build up. Most urban churches have no other
    option than to build up. So if you’re building, plan for growth.
    Delia’s church built an unfinished second floor on their building
    in anticipation of future growth. Delia says, “Even though it was a
    little more expensive, it will be less now than it would be later
    to add a second floor.”

Church architects suggest developing a 10-year and 20-year
growth plan when building. Decide where you want the church to be
in 20 years. Then plan for that growth.

Barbara Beach is a past editor of CHILDREN’S MINISTRY
Magazine. Please keep in mind that phone numbers, addresses, and
prices are subject to change.

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The Space Squeeze

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