Facilities are an enormous blessing and a simultaneous curse. Having an efficient facility takes careful thinking about traffic flow, space utilization and knowledge of what is cost effective. Brad Simmons has done some great thinking in this area. The material below is part of an assignment that Brad did for an XPastor Online Course, Ops 105—Facilities. We need to have this kind of attention to detail in order to see how to improve our facilities. Read this as an example of how you can evaluate your church facility.
The assignment was: “Does your kids’ ministry have a dedicated kids’ space? Evaluate this space for its safety and kid-appeal. How might it be improved?”
Our church has two distinct areas for kids: the Preschool Area and the Kids’ Area.
The Preschool Area is very much a dedicated space. All of the preschool rooms are accessible through one internal entryway that can be secured by locking double glass doors. This hallway has a single exit out of the building that allows access to the playground space behind the church building. This is very secure, but it’s also very crowded.
Only one of the double glass doors can be opened; opening the other door blocks access to the area behind the check-in desk. A single door entry means there are lots of parents, kids, siblings, bags, strollers, etc. trying to get through—quite a bottleneck.
In order to simplify giving parents directions to where their child belongs, each room is color-coded, which helps tremendously. The hallway is painted with simple shapes, mirrors, and a cartoonish Biblical scene or two. The rooms are large, colorful and well stocked with toys, snacks, supplies, extra diapers and changes of clothes.
Aesthetically, the area is acceptable. More could always be done, but given the long, not overly wide hallway, it could quickly become overdone.
The bottleneck caused by the double doors is really a pain. The other problem is that there is an entryway to a set of rooms and a single room just past the double doors. As a result, the problem compounds. Short of tearing out walls and probably losing a room or two, there is not much that can be done. The most simple solution would be to leave both doors open and park a worker behind the check-in desk, not coming or going from the desk during the rush.
An additional check-in computer would be ideal, but would require another counter space set up in a lobby that can already feel crowded.
In short, major renovations would be needed in order to improve the layout and flow in more than an incremental way.
The Kids’ Area is not quite as separated from the flow of people as the Preschool Area. It’s recognizable as the Kids’ Area, and it’s easy enough to find, but it is not nearly as secure or set apart. All but one of the rooms are around a large common room that the kids meet in together during a closing time. The one room that is away from the others is for the oldest kids.
The check-in area is in the hallway just outside of the rooms. It works, but the line tends to block the hallways where people are trying to get to other areas of the building.
The large room is furnished with colorful benches. However, the projection system is dim and not HD. Classrooms are created using dividers. The dividers aren’t very colorful and the decorations that have been placed on the walls are beat up from being folded and unfolded along with the dividers.
Much could be done to improve the aesthetics. Upgrading the AV equipment would be a step in the right direction, as well as decorating the walls using materials that won’t be damaged by folding and unfolding the dividers.
There are two main issues with the Kids’ Area, but I think they’re easily solved.
First, the check-in area is not well placed. Moving it inside the large meeting room, to get people out of the hallway, would be a huge improvement.
Second, parents stand out in the hallway, blocking traffic, when they’re waiting to pick up their kids. If directions were given for parents to wait inside the large room, outside their children’s classroom to pick up their kids, a lot of congestion in the hallway would be alleviated.