church-design-kidsIt’s no secret how important children are to the future of a church. Ministering to their needs provides a strong reason for a family to become members, plus a person’s faith is most nurtured at a young age. This means enticing children, and their families, with an attractive children’s space should be central to the vision of your church.

This, and our next blog post will focus on ways churches big and small can develop practical spaces that will make both children and their parents happy. Of course, the size of the church will impact what that space will and will not include, but that doesn’t mean that churches of all sizes can’t have children spaces that are both attractive and functional.  This week we’re going to start by looking at the realistic needs and abilities of small churches to attract children.

Why Have a Children’s Space?

The first and most important reason to have a dedicated children’s space in your church building design is practicality. In addition to class room space children need what we call “muscle room.” That’s a space where they can run around and burn off steam. If your worship center holds a lengthy service from a child’s point of view, you can’t expect children to sit still that long.

Instead, you need to give them a play space that’s designed for them. A small church might have only thirty kids in the 2- to 8-year-old range, which is the group of kids that needs that muscle room the most. For this size group, you might consider a multi-functional space that you make attractive to children. Ideally, it should be seen from outside, through some nice, large windows, so it will draw in children who want to play there; and let their parents know that you’re making children a priority.

Also keep in mind that a children’s space should be more than a room to hold the young ones while the adults are in worship service.  Children’s spaces should connect with kids on their level.  If the child looks forward to church, it is one more reason the parent has to come back each week.

Children’s Church Building Design on the Slimmer Budget

So if you have a small church with a limited budget, you probably can’t afford a big indoor McDonald’s-like play land. That’s fine. An outdoor playground can easily meet some of those needs, and that equipment is less expensive.

You might have one thing that makes them think about an indoor play land, such as a tube slide that they use to enter the space after checking in. But the rest of the space in a multi-purpose room is just going to be carpeted, and brightly painted. You can have games in storage that you bring out, or props that you use for certain types of activities. This is where a church building design that includes lots of storage becomes just as important as the children’s space itself. That way the space can function for play, and worship, and other children’s activities as well.

Choosing Your Target Children’s Group

Another way that a smaller church can approach children’s spaces is to decide what age group is most important right now. If you’ve got a growing group of preschoolers, but then a gap until your mid- and senior-high groups, make sure that your children’s space is going to attract that preschool crowd. It’s pretty straightforward to focus your decorating and activities on that single group, making them the priority.

Then, as they grow, you can either change out the paint and activities, or if your church is growing, you can consider adding additional children’s space in the next phase of your church building design.

Stay Tuned for the Larger Church Picture

Of course, if you’re already one of those larger churches, you will have different considerations when designing children’s spaces. Next week, in part two of this series, we will discuss those issues. Meanwhile, sign up today for the next installment of our free i3 webinar series, where you will learn more helpful hints about issues related to church building design, remodeling and new-church construction projects.