Creating an irresistible, welcoming environment for young families and their children is extremely important.
Launching a new church or campus in a rented facility offers many benefits that permanent locations don’t: lower cost, speed, flexibility, community partnership, and volunteer engagement. That said, creating an excellent and inviting children’s ministry in a rented venue requires different planning and preparation than a permanent campus. From our 25+ years assisting churches launch in rented spaces, here are some best practices & insights of churches that launch children’s ministry well.
Create A Great First Experience
The children’s environment sends a message. Think about the message I received from a church I visited with my children when I arrived ten minutes before service time and found many adults milling around and inside the classrooms. People were still organizing the room, and a back door to the classroom was open. I got the message that this church was disorganized and maybe didn’t think any visitors would show up today.
Contrast this with Cypress Church’s new campus launch in Ohio. They engaged Portable Church® to design their children’s area at the high school they rent so that new families had a curbside personal welcome, easy check-in experience, a volunteer escort to the classroom (past a security guard). The kids area was separate from the main worship area, and had special treatments in the classrooms that were bright, colorful, and engaging for the kids. Visiting Cypress Church, you get the message that the team expected visitors and were more than prepared for them. Meaning visitors will likely conclude that their church is organized and intentional with all aspects of their ministries.
Volunteers & System Design
Finding enough volunteers for children’s ministry is challenging in all churches. When you add the extra volunteers needed for setup and teardown, it is critical to take the extra time and expense to design setup/teardown solutions that are volunteer centric – designed to maximize BOTH the volunteer and participant experience. Churches that plan ahead and engage portability experts when designing their portable children’s ministry have better success and don’t wear out the volunteers as quickly as churches that do it on their own.
Relationship With Your Venue
As a church who will interface with the landlord and community, you will want to be treated professionally and have a professional relationship. But, if Sunday setup requires extreme early arrivals because you have hundreds of totes and equipment not designed for quick setup, in heavy cases built in the back garage that scratches floors, the church appears anything but professional to the school. We have witnessed over and over that when the church invests in a professional portability solution, the school/theater/community center treats them better, more professionally, and with more grace.
Theater Best Practices
Can you do children’s ministry well in a movie theater venue? Yes. It can be done well and is being done well by hundreds (maybe a thousand) of churches across the country weekly. Valley Christian Church in
Poughkeepsie, New York is one of those churches that does children’s ministry well. They partnered with Regal Entertainment Group and Portable Church to design an excellent and inviting church environment for young families. You can learn more about their story here.
School Best Practices
Two (of many) best practices for schools are utilizing treatments and partnering directly with the staff of the local school. Many school rentals are organized by the district office. But, it is the local teachers and custodians who are most impacted. Churches that serve the local school without strings attached create the most favor and best partnership experiences. A number of churches get teacher classroom supplies wish lists and make sure they are filled. Others flood the school with willing volunteers to read and serve. An interesting story about one church (Faithbridge Church) that launched strong in an elementary school is here.