Why Environment Matters in Children’s Ministry

Our church meets in an old theater in downtown Richmond, VA. The lighting and ambiance of the lobby and foyer area is perfect for a Saturday night concert (dim lights). So on a Sunday morning, a parent once tipped me off to the lighting scheme and suggested we turn the lights up so the kids don’t feel like they’re in a horror movie. As the Children’s Pastor, I was so caught up in having a great lesson, great visual illustrations, and a savvy check-in system. But I had never thought about the lighting and what that could communicate on a Sunday morning to kids and parents.

We turned up the lights as bright as they could go and we have kept it that way ever since the parent tip. It certainly changes the mood of the foyer leading into the Children’s area. It is more welcoming, bright, and cheery. While it might not sound spiritual, something as simple as lighting can be an important factor in the first impressions (and second and third) of families and kids who come into your Children’s area.

I’m reading through the Old Testament right now. In the past, I have often started the Old Testament and made it as far as The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20) and then gave up shortly thereafter when it got real detailed about the dimensions and materials of the worship Tabernacle. That’s when I would skip ahead to Proverbs, Psalms or the New Testament. But I kept reading this time, and now I’m in mid-Leviticus. Leviticus is more of seemingly menial details about regulations, cleanliness standards, and building materials.

But when you think about the importance of quality standards in God’s sanctuary and what it communicates to people when they enter the house of God, all of a sudden, it makes sense that we follow the same principles in “setting the mood” in our current sanctuaries, including the kids areas. We want to honor God with the quality and cleanliness of everything from the lighting, the child safety features, the music in the hallways, the colors in the rooms, the smells, the toys, the books, the objects available for play, and all sorts of other “environment” elements.

How do you set the environment in your Children’s area to be a hospitable place for kids and families? Have your parents given you tips on how to improve the ambiance of your welcoming and worship spaces?

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Dr. Jesse Joyner travels nationwide as a speaker and entertainer. His primary role is that of a performing juggler spreading joy and the love of learning to family and kids events. H earned his PhD in Educational Studies at Trinity International University (Deerfield, IL). He enjoys playing the piano, bird watching, and old houses. He lives in Richmond, VA with his wife, Sarah, and their three kids - the perfect number for juggling children.