Making God’s Town a reality

For me, one of the highlights of 2009 was seeing Christ Fellowship’s new Children’s Ministry area, God’s Town, become a reality.  All three of my kids grew up in the original God’s Town at Christ Fellowship, so it was a real honor to be a part of planning, design and build-out one of the most exciting children’s ministry areas in the country.

An accidental idea: We had as part of  the landscape of our original church building, a “Prayer Garden” outside which was a lushly planted area for people to go and have some quiet moments.  After every church service, it was anything but quiet.  Young children would rush this area and play in all of the landscaping until their parents could find them so they could go home.

The idea of pulling an outdoor park into our new indoor facility became a huge win! We constructed a two-story tree house with a staircase that allows kids to “climb” the tree and come down one of two tube slides.

Zach's Treehouse in the Park

This whole project didn’t just happen overnight.  We actually followed a systematic approach in creating 35,000 sqft of ministry area that would be filled with children from toddlers to 5th Grade during weekend services.  The process involved the following steps:

1.  Blue Sky session – a meeting where our Children’s Staff, the General Contractor, Architect, Adult Ministry Staff, and Executive Pastor discussed the project from every angle to come up with a well-rounded vision for what this area could become.  A “theming” company was selected during this meeting.  Attendance projections and room usage and programming were given to the architect to figure out room sizes and placement.

2.  Concept Development – The architectural group produced some concept drawings for room and space layout based on the capacity and age group specifications.

3.  Concept Refinement and Schematic Drawings – The concept drawings were modified after review by staff and construction drawings were started.

4.  Design Development and Construction – The development of the God’s Town theme took a parallel track to the construction as we started to refine the final theme design week after week.

5.  Installation – The cool trees, signs and other pieces of the “theme” were being manufactured in Tulsa, OK and other parts of the country and began arriving on site and being installed as construction was being completed.

6. Program / Training – As the area started taking its final shape, the Children’s Ministry Staff was developing the programming and content for weekend services as well as training new volunteers in order to be ready for opening.

7.  Soft Opening – We actually opened up one half of the facility for families to walk through and get excited about the new area.  This also showed our staff how traffic flows would work and how to manage check-in stations.  Mini events were held to get the bugs worked out.

8. Grand Opening – Staff, volunteers  and contractors worked tirelessly through the final hours up to opening night to complete the finishing touches.  One of the main rooms had a delay in carpet delivery and the installation was completed 4 hours prior to opening night!

9.  Maintaining a Fresh Appearance – Staff and volunteers use time between weekend services to maintain the area and keep things feeling fresh and new for the kids.

GK Studio - 1st thru 3rd Grade stage

Little Mountain Productions out of Tulsa, OK did an amazing job of capturing the vision of what we wanted to do and took it to another level.  Their expertise in design and production was first class.

Back of GK Studio - Sound Absorption Panels / Movie Story-Boards (a touch of genius from LMP)

Overall. making God’s Town a reality took 2 years.  The project started as an idea during ThanksGiving holiday, 2007.  Concept design and development occurred during 2008 as our contractor constructed the space.  Final theme and installation took place between January and September of 2009.  Grand opening was at the end of September.  Time well spent.

Seeing the kids, and even the adults, as they enter the area is a real joy.  We worked Bible stories into every area of the theming so the kids are absolutely “drenched” with God’s Word week after week.  What an awesome privilege to be part of this!  You could actually see and feel God working through the schedule during the whole project.

Main Street - Getting ready for opening night!

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