I warn people in our community not to bring their kids to our church until they’re sure they want to attend on a regular basis. When they ask why, I tell them that once their kids “come and see” the environment we’ve created for them, they’ll never be satisfied anywhere else.
Andy Stanley, Deep & Wide
Wouldn’t it be great, before a child even interacted with a small group leader or heard a Bible story that they were hooked on the environment? Or wouldn’t it be great if the environment paved the way, or set the stage, for what the child was going to experience on Sunday Morning at church? What if the environment prepared the way for the small group leader or the storyteller to create a life changing encounter with the Bible and a relationship with Jesus?
Sadly, our environments in many churches do the opposite. For skeptical 5th graders our environments are the first obstacle they see when coming to our churches. Worse, they become further evidence in a long list of experiences that reinforce most modern kids’ perspectives that church is not relevant.
I’m not suggesting that we replace the Gospel with entertainment or flashy environments. What I’m suggesting is that we leverage our environments to surprise and delight, to create the unexpected, and ultimately disarm the kids who come to church. In so doing, we set up what we really want to do, lead kids in a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.
This isn’t a new problem. Here is one of my favorite quotes from Henrietta Mears from the early 50’s.
The Church must be prepared to reach out and get the many millions of boys and girls who are still without religious instruction of any sort. Compare the marble halls of our modern school buildings with the worn out carpets of the Sunday school department, and the up-to-date books, well bound, on every school desk with the ragged songbooks and Bibles, the fine hardwood desks with the dilapidated chairs relegated to most Sunday school departments. No wonder youth thinks that the three R’s are more important than the fourth–Religion, when he goes on Sunday to a room poorly lighted and miserably furnished.
Henrietta Mears, Sunday School Changes Everything
What do you do in your environments to surprise, delight, or disarm kids when they walk through the doors of your church for the first time?