The church building is designed to minister to people of all ages, and one of the most important age groups to consider while planning is the children. The Barna Group indicates “…nearly half of all Americans who accept Jesus Christ as their Savior do so before reaching the age of 13 (43%), and that two out of three born again Christians (64%) made that commitment to Christ before their 18th birthday.” So it is vital that we build churches that effectively meet the needs of children in order to bring more people to Christ within our church walls.
While the ministry of God’s Word through creative sharing of Bible stories is of primary importance to children’s ministry, a fun experience—which includes playing—is vitally essential to provide as well. When children are provided with secure indoor play opportunities at church, they enjoy themselves thoroughly and want to come back regularly. And when children want to come back regularly, they make it known to their parents, and parents come back to church too!
It’s important for parents to know their children are not only learning about God, but are having fun in the process. Indoor play equipment is an ideal way in which to provide good, safe fun for children. Play is an essential part of childhood. Colorful play structures for all ages are designed to engage children in physically challenging activities while increasing their coordination, muscle strength, abstract thinking and imagination. Engaging in play activities on secure equipment provides places where children can learn valuable social skills like sharing and cooperating while improving their communication skills and confidence.
In planning ahead for your church’s indoor play spaces for children of various ages, there are several options and factors to consider in the design.
1. Fixed play equipment vs. movable equipment
Before deciding on whether to have fixed play equipment or movable equipment, consider the benefits of each. Movable equipment is often ideal for toddlers and preschoolers since it can be easily stored to make way for multiple uses of the space. There are several options from which to choose that appeal to toddlers and preschoolers, creating fun for them “at their level.” Fixed equipment, similar to that which is found in many chain restaurants, can be especially appealing to elementary age children who have lots of energy to burn off. They can make new friends and strengthen their relationships while enjoying everything from swirling slides to ball pits, colorful tunnels and climbing walls.
2. Age appropriate equipment
Toddlers and preschool age children need safe, secure play spaces where they can enjoy the equipment both independently as well as in groups. Elementary age children advance to larger equipment that provide more obstacles and opportunities to challenge their physical skills, enhancing their play experience.
3. Multipurpose use of equipment and space
Consider the value of your play spaces by looking through the eyes of not only church use, but also potential community use. Fixed play equipment with adjacent tables could potentially provide the perfect location for birthday parties, should the church desire to rent the area to others.
4. Facilities to include within the indoor play space area
Plan ahead so children can utilize nearby restrooms within their designated indoor play spaces. Indoor bathrooms located near the play equipment create an all-in-one package to accommodate the needs during church services as well as renting options. Parents will rest at ease knowing their child’s needs are met in the secure environment of the children’s department. Planning ahead to contain the restrooms within the actual classrooms for children provides the most convenient, secure and safe places for children to utilize from the child’s, volunteers and parent’s perspective.
Add attractiveness and value to your church facility by developing amazing play spaces for children, and watch your children’s ministry blossom as it meets the needs of kids of all ages. Prioritizing children’s needs in your church’s design is worth the investment. There is a law of sowing and reaping, and as churches sow into the needs of children, they are sowing into good ground and positioning themselves to reap the harvest as a result.
At Churches by Daniels, we are here to help your church at any phase of the design and building process. From completely new church buildings to renovations, remodeling and expansion projects, we are here to help you achieve your ministry goals by creating the ideal space in which to worship.