One of the challenges for churches in this digital age is keeping children actively engaged during children’s church. Today, children and youth are used to being constantly entertained, whether that’s through a smartphone, tablet, television, or community event. Many churches are responding to this thirst for interaction by incorporating children’s theater spaces into their church building. Here are a few examples of The McKnight Group’s designs for these spaces, to fuel ideas for your own church design.
Children’s Theater Needs
There are a number of considerations to keep in mind if you’re going to create a children’s theater space. One important question is whether the room will fulfill several functions or be dedicated to just one purpose. Multi-ministry spaces can be used by a range of ages, and we’ve found that many churches prefer a rather generic space that can be used in multiple ways.
So, if you’re going to set up a flexible theater space, you will need to include nearby storage in your church building design. This allows you to store chairs when the space might be used as a play area, and put the toys away when it’s time to transition to a theater space. Tables and craft materials can also be stored there if you want the space to be used for arts and crafts.
When it comes to outfitting the room, every theater needs a platform. The theater may also need additional special features, such as theatrical lighting, a sound booth, bubble machines, black lights, etc. You will also need to decide whether to keep your theme up on the stage—with the room becoming “generic” when the theater curtains are closed—or to decorate the entire room with your theater theme.
Another consideration—as with all children’s spaces—is security. Building codes require that everyone be able to easily exit the church building, but you want to keep people from being able to easily enter the children’s area. We have a lot of experience with creating workable church design solutions for protecting children and keeping them safe in case of emergencies.
Examples of Children’s Theater Spaces in Church Buildings
As you can see in our first example here, this Church Mouse Praise House is designed for preschool children. The stage or platform is very low, and children are allowed to stand and watch. In this case, the platform serves two functions: It helps children to see better, but also creates a visual barrier to keep them from running up onto the stage where the action is taking place.
In this second example, there are clearly chairs in the theater. Look closely and notice the stage is higher, which allows everyone to see the action, even when they’re sitting in chairs. The side walls in this room have been left very generic, which adds to the multi-ministry possibilities of the room, beyond use as a children’s theater.
And in our final example—Kingdom Kids, for older children—we have built a full stage, complete with curtains, theater lighting, and a backstage area. The platform is higher, to fit with the overall size of the room. There is a screen on one side to allow for maximum flexibility in the types of performances that are presented. Also, folding chairs are used, which makes it easy to transform this room for other ministry functions.
More Church Design Information
Without question: If you’re looking to introduce more children and families to your church’s vision, a children’s theater in your church building can work wonders. To learn more, feel free to contact us at 800-625-6448. And to learn more about church design and building, visit our website and sign up for our free i3 webinars.