One of the key issues facing most children’s ministry today is the environment in which the teaching takes place. Most dying churches have what I call “stale environments.” Kids are expected to enter a classroom, sit down, and be still as if they are supposed to study. The rooms are void of any data ports, computers, video players, or screens. Most of the curriculum is in print and most of the teaching is verbal with an emphasis on cognitive content.
So, some churches are experimenting with programs such as Rotation or Godly Play. These are okay but usually children are still going from one class room to another. As good as these programs are, they are still not reaching our kids. They are still too “stale.”
Many of the thriving churches are experimenting with variations of what Willow Creek started years ago – Promise Land. They call their Sunday School things like “Big House,” “Upstreet,” and “Tiny Town.” These are all basically music, drama, story, and sometimes small groups afterwards, but all of the elementary children are together in one big place.
You get the picture – make it an experience and stay as far away as possible from anything that says “school. How many kids do you know that can’t wait to go to “school”?
The total environment in these children’s areas is designed for kids; from the time they appear at the door to the time they leave, everything is designed for them – the hallway, the entrance, the walls, the equipment, the teachers, everything.