In my tenure as a kids ministry leader at our church, we’ve seen a lot of changes. Whether it was a new building, new curriculum, or even new paint color, there’s been one seemingly insignificant small shift that ended up making the most significant impact: Bare-Naked Classrooms.
In our Early Childhood Ministry, we’d always strived to make our classroom spaces exciting and inviting with kid-friendly toys and home living spaces. They’ve since endured endless hours of creative play from our little ones. There was enough “STUFF” in our classrooms that if we added not a drop of curriculum or bible centered activities kids would still have endless hours of fun just playing.
But then two years ago, we took a mini vision trip to the Early Childhood ministry at Cross Pointe Sugarloaf while at the Orange Conference.
- INCREDIBLE large group space, so creatively decorated that it surely lent itself to high energy worship and engaging Bible storytelling.
- Fantastic tips on increasing the safety and security of our drop off and pick up procedures that would be easy to implement.
- Bare-naked classrooms.
Seriously. I pictured a revolt with preschoolers rioting in their classrooms.
We stood there for a long while and just imagined.
The “stuff” wasn’t bad, but what if we narrowed our focus, simplified our spaces and supplied our leaders with enough?
- Enough fun arrival activities to invite kids into the classroom while introducing them to a new and true story from the Bible.
- Enough games and activities for leaders to actively engage kids in relationship building exercises that help the day’s Bible truth stick in their heart and mind.
- Enough intentional and small group guided discussion to help leaders get to know their kids and their kids them, with time for prayer by and for kids.
We’d been practicing these things, and made it our job to equip leaders with enough, but could the stuff of busy environments in small group areas be distracting our kids and our leaders?
We are beginning to clear out our PreK and Kindergarten rooms of all the extra, making sure we are providing leaders with enough and we are seeing incredible breakthroughs. We’ve shifted the focus from the distractions of busy environments to intentional and engaging relationship building small group activities, and it’s working! Leaders and kids are mutually more engaged in the provided activities, which lends towards deeper relationships. And relationships continue to be the glue that helps bind the biblical truth to the heart of a child.
Our large group space is where we let our creatives go nuts. It’s a party in there and we have a blast making much of Jesus while we worship with our whole bodies. Considering the space, its participants, and its purpose is helping us win in all of our spaces and places.