I have attended church regularly throughout my entire life, because my faith is important to me. Although I've only been a long-term attender at four churches, based on where I lived at the time, I have had opportunities to visit many, many other churches.
My husband and I were former members of a drama group that performed at many locations in the states and even one international ministry trip to Trinidad. We received countless invitations to do our program in many churches. I was always interested to see what facilities and programs were established in each for the children.
I often felt surprised, and then disappointed, to learn that children were relegated to the areas back "in the back," or down in a dark, musty basement, or in some other area that clearly appeared not meant for a children's ministry.
It is my strong opinion that without a thriving children's program, any church will ultimately end up closing its doors.
And here's the thing: children growing up in today's world are not the same as children who grew up in the 50's and 60's. Technological advances have made sure of that. When churches do not take a serious look at what are the needs of families nowadays, and still try to minister in the same ways as what worked 50, 60, or 70 years ago, families will go elsewhere to find a place where their needs will be met.
Ok, I'm down off my soapbox now, and the whole reason I went down that thread was because I finally had an opportunity to explore the children's area at my church yesterday for the first time. Although we've been attending this church for some time now, the children's program area is at a bit of a walk from the main service hall, and I simply hadn't yet explored it.
But WOW. I've gotta say I'm blown away now that I've seen it. My twin granddaughters Tori and Brianna slept over here Saturday night, so we took them along with us to church the next morning. It was my chance to send them to the children's building and get a look at this place that up until now I've only heard so much about.
This is definitely a place where the families and their children are valued and cared for. It is obvious that this is not a place where the children are an afterthought. Ministering to the children, youth, and young adults is obviously of great priority to the leadership of this church.
The KidzWay Children's Ministry occupies the entire second floor of the church's family life center. The area is created to look like an entire town. The Safari Park handles babies 9-18 months, and the Circus accommodates toddlers 19-30 months old. In the Fire Station are children 31 months to age 3, and the Airport ministers to four year olds. The Town Park/Square is an area for the K5 through 2nd graders, and KidsWay City is the place for 3rd to 5th graders.
As you can see by the photos, all hallways, walkways and ramps are painted with murals to match whatever buildings they are simulating.
When the girls came up the steps and first got a look at the area, they were truly speechless. I myself just felt overwhelmed with a sense gratefulness to those people that planned this and made this special place a reality. I so appreciate those folks that have the heart for the children and are willing to make the investment of time and resources to take care of them.
Afterwards the girls had diarrhea of the mouths as they fought to tell me how great it all had been.
They definitely want to go back. In fact, they begged me to take them back.
And really, isn't that the way kids should feel about going to church?