About the author: David Clark is the Technical Arts + Production Coordinator at Sherwood Oaks Christian Church in Bloomington, Indiana. He loves running, social media, and Chipotle.
Some days I sit and dream about what it would be like to have a ministry space that is specifically dedicated to our elementary worship experiences—A big, beautiful room that’s truly ours, and no one else’s. But I’m quickly brought back to reality, reminded that we do ministry each weekend in a gym—a shared space. And because that space is shared, most of what we do is portable.
Now, I could allow that to stifle our creativity and constantly frustrate our productivity. (And some days it does, believe me.) Or I can choose to see it as a challenge, an opportunity to do something with almost nothing. Choosing the latter option is much more difficult, but there’s a lot of value in doing so.
Here are three ideas to get you started as you think about creating a portable kid’s ministry environment.
- Work within your means
As Kids Ministry leaders, it’s easy to constantly be reaching for the next big thing. Often in the process, we unfortunately end up trying to be something we’re not. I think there’s a lot to be said for learning to work with what you have.
Maybe you don’t have any money in your budget for stage design. If that’s the case, reach out to volunteers and others in your church to borrow skills and items from them. If they know they have something to contribute, people love to help! Maybe you don’t have any people on your team with the time to dedicate to stage design each month. Start small and consider resetting your stage every other month to relieve some of that pressure. Create stage pieces that are more generic, that way you can use them again or repurpose them for other months. It’s important to strive for greatness, but that doesn’t mean you have to do something that’s outside of your capacity.
- Embrace your limitations
Creating a stage design when your space is portable also poses a lot of limitations. Embrace them. Flip those perceived negatives around and look for ways to make the most of them. At our church, because we don’t have a lot of storage space for big stage pieces, we end up designing smaller pieces. But smaller design also means we save a lot of money each month that can be used on other service elements like props, music, and costumes.
Perhaps you have to travel with your stage pieces to and from your venue each weekend. Use that as a chance to involve a volunteer who may not be great with kids, but who is looking for a meaningful way to serve within your church. There are always plenty of negatives. Sometimes we need to be reminded that those things can be used for good if we look hard enough.
- Make the most of what you have
If you’re anything like me, I’m sure there’s a lot you don’t have in your ministry space that you wish you did. If that’s the case, accentuate what you do have. I wish we had better stage lighting, but we do have colored stage lighting. So we use it—every chance we can, and every single weekend. We use it all to its fullest extent.
There will always be things we don’t like about our environments – whether it’s the size of our stage or the room we were assigned. But imagine ways you can transform them to work for you. Like building an extension to the stage or simply realizing that having a big empty room can work to your advantage for getting kids involved in the Bible story.
You may have a cool little cluttered space. Don’t clutter it up more with a lot of random stage elements! Make it look better by simply cleaning it up first. Then you won’t need to over-compensate, and a simple stage design will stand out more. Take everything good you have working for you, however small, and use it to the best of your ability. Don’t waste a single thing.
These may seem like three pretty simple ideas, but more often than not, simple wins. Whatever you do, please don’t compare. Sometimes this seems easier said than done, as leaders post pictures of their environments on social media. Remember, each of our spaces is unique. Our stage designs are going to look different than yours, which will look different from the church across town. And that’s okay. Use social media to learn from each other and find ideas that will work your space. You may not have exactly what you think you need to create the most perfect stage design, but that’s never an excuse to bring anything less than your best.
A portable Kids Ministry space doesn’t have to look bad! There’s so much we can do with what we do have. Always remember that portable or not, we GET to do this! Keep pushing ahead, and keep working hard.