Once you know the story you want to tell, you need to gather a team of people to help craft how you will tell your story.
At first glance, when we look at the word “delivery” we think in terms of the person communicating on stage, but, like environment, delivery encompasses much much more. Delivery includes anything that communicates your story to your audience. Like Disney, you begin communicating your story as soon as people pull into your church parking lot. The story may not be very good (yet), but you are communicating a story. In other words, the atmosphere you create must begin from the first moments that a person will experience your environment.
How will you decorate?
This is not a new question in the children’s ministry world. Companies make a living by helping churches theme out there spaces. You may not be there yet though. You may not have a huge budget to create Main Street USA in your church hallways, but that doesn’t mean you don’t try. Decor is important. Kid-friendly atmosphere lets a child know that you understand their point of view and like what they like.
In terms of planning your decor, choose one theme. Don’t mix Medieval Times with a 1950’s small town. It’s confusing and will create unneeded tension. People may never say this out loud, but they really won’t ever feel comfortable in the tension created by the decor.
Work from the specific to the general as you move from the outer hallways to the interiors of the room. This allows for a definitive brand but will give you room to play with monthly theme decor on the stages. Think about how you could change up those hallways to fit seasonal holidays: Can you switch out seasonal flowers? Will Christmas decorations make sense? What will summer look like?
As you think about your stage, think generic. By all means, make it “feel” like your hallways, but leave room for lots of options. Think about how you will use the stage: will you ever need to hang anything? Will you project your graphics onto a screen or use a flatscreen TV? How will you hide wires? How many people will ever need to be on the stage? Do you need inputs for instruments and wired mics? Will be able to swap out monthly theme decor without difficulty?
How will you communicate?
Once the stage is set, it’s time to think about what elements you will use to make the story come alive on that stage. You and I both know that the possibilities are endless. Because of that, let the following principle guide you:
Less is more; more is distracting.
You want the story to be the focus not the light show. Whatever you do and however you do it, make sure that the kids are leaving with a clear vision for how they will put God’s story into practice in their lives. If they only leave thinking, “Wow, that was an awesome game!” without knowing why they played it, well, we’ve failed them.
Just a word on the elements you can use:
Music: You shouldn’t choose songs because they’re cool. Choose them because they will help kids arrive at the bottom line or will help them respond to God’s love in light of what they experienced during large group.
Video: Kids watch TV and videos on YouTube. They like them. Use video strategically. You may even want to consider using video to share the main Bible story to ensure that what you want communicated is actually communicated.
Games: Games can be a great way to introduce a topic or just simply to break the ice and get the kids comfortable in the space. They can be messy or not. They should be fun. If they’re crazy, just create enough space between the game and the Bible story for kids to get back “into the mood” to be ready to hear from God’s word.
Questions: Open ended questions are a powerful tool you can use to help kids process what they’re learning about the bottom line. Save these for small group environments where a trusted leader is helping them through answering them.
Visuals: Make sure that you can read visuals from the back of the room. Limit text to four lines per slide. Remember that many kids have difficulty reading. Make it simple for everyone.
Props: You don’t need everything just what’s important to create a feel for where you are and the story you’re telling.
Lights: Have fun but be intentional. Just because you can make a strobe affect, doesn’t mean you should.
How will you help kids remember?
As you plan how you’ll deliver the story each week, how will you help kids remember what you’ve covered? Something we often forget is the part of the environment kids take with them when they leave your spaces: take homes.
Take homes can be as simple as a sheet of paper to a trinket of some sort that they get each month. The most successful take homes are those which can be used or worn as a cue to remind kids to recall the bottom line and act accordingly. Is there a craft that will be something they won’t just throw out when they get home?
Everything costs money. Use that money to do something that will give you a return on your investment. Remember, you’re helping kids remember a story. Don’t have them create something that will never make it home in one piece. Spend as much time brainstorming a great take home as you would what questions you’ll ask during small group. Take homes are that important.
Planning delivery is really about being intentional with each element you’ll use to tell your story. If you have good answer for the question “why did we do this?” for each moment, you’re on your way to creating a great environment.
What are some of the best ideas that you’ve had when it comes to delivery? I’d love to hear them. Comment below!