What is it about space? There never seems to be enough! This is
true for all sizes of ministries in all sizes of churches. When my
husband was in seminary, I taught in a preschool facility that
rented space from a church. We worked to transform Sunday school
rooms into a day care facility and then back again each week. Back
in those days I believed our limited space situation would surely
be my most challenging. Little did I know that God was only
preparing me for even bigger adventures in confined areas.
When my husband completed seminary, he took a call to plant a new
church...and there my adventures really began. Our children's
ministry started in an office space, moved to a local school, and
by year 11 finally moved into our own new building. As children's
ministry director all those years, transitioning through each new
growth phase was exhausting and also thrilling. We've been in our
new building just over a year now...and already we're sharing space
with our youth ministry, of course.
I've learned that there'll always be space issues. They may seem
overwhelming when you're growing and running out of storage or when
your Sunday school rooms have to double as office facilities,
schools, theaters, or other temporary facilities -- each with
unique space and organization issues. You can maximize and organize
your space -- no matter what your ministry looks like or where you
meet. Use these tried-and-true suggestions.
Whether your area is overstuffed, undersized, or impractical, you
can take steps to clear it, clean it, and give it the illusion of
• Move large items. Relocating dusty pianos and oversized tables
helps you get maximum space out of your existing areas. If you
don't use it, remove it. Once you've cleared your area as much as
possible, think creatively. Which spaces will work for multiple
purposes? Can a media cabinet also house a puppet window? Can a
large rug be used for play time and story time?
• Use furniture with a storage function. Benches with open bases
are perfect for storing toys or books. Ikea (www.ikea.com) and Target stores sell
customizable bookshelves that include open or closed storage. Or
for an inexpensive alternative, hang attractive curtains in front
of open shelves to give a visually uncluttered look.
• Make spaces appear larger. Mirrors make rooms look bigger.
Nature scenes and murals bring the expanse of the great outdoors
inside your classroom.
• Purchase portable furniture. Church and school furniture
companies such as Adirondack (www.adirondack.com) or Kaplan (www.kaplan
co.com) sell fold-up tables on wheels, allowing table-based
activities to be moved quickly and easily out of the way so you can
access an open activity area. In our Cattail Creek room for second-
and third-graders, we use foldable camping chairs as an inexpensive
alternative to regular chairs. They blend in with our room's theme,
kids love to set them up, and they're easy to pack up. We stack 50
camping chairs on a wheeled platform that takes up only 4 square
feet of space. That leaves us with more open space we can use for
small groups and other activities.
• Escape. Take advantage of hallways, atriums, courtyards, and
other areas. With safety precautions, these empty spaces can work
well for small groups, group games, or prayer huddles. Keep group,
game, or prayer supplies in buckets or bags with handles so you can
easily tote supplies for use elsewhere.