This is post #4 under category, “Portable Church–Church in a Box.”
Here are two photos of preschool environments in a high school classroom. Simply furnished with a few folding pick-nick tables, carpets and mats. (We are grateful for the donated carpet!)
To set the rooms back up exactly the way the teacher left it, we make a note of the placement of desks and other furnishings on the classroom white board. Often times, students have left posters on desks, school books, etc. Everything is noted and placed back in its original place. Smart phones are used to take a photograph of the class, especially helpful for a very detailed arranged classroom. It’s important that we respect all of the supplies and classroom resources. This earns our trust with the teachers.
We have an incredible team of men and women that help set up children’s ministry every week. There are four set up teams that serve for one month three times a year. We established a system that enabled the set up process to be completed in record time. We especially wanted to make it very easy for the newbies on the set up teams to quickly adjust to the set up process. Our goal is to have everything ready a minimum of 15 minutes before families and first time guests arrived.
Here are a few of the things that work for us:
Set up team arrives at the location about 20 minutes before the trailer arrives with the supplies. They map out the rooms, photograph as necessary and begin moving desks. They are careful to create a barrier of desks in front of the smart boards to discourage little people from exploring that area. By the time the rooms are prepped, the trailer has arrived.
We established this policy: “The classroom you set up is the classroom you put back in order.” This helps to maximize efficiency and organization at the end of the morning.
We colored coded the classrooms for each age group. For example: Yellow-Nursery, Purple-Toddlers, Red-Preschool 3′s, etc. Beside each classroom, we secure a color coordinated banner over the lockers. (Created small pockets on the reverse side of the banner for magnets)
Remember the last thing packed on the trailer is the first thing to come off. We need the industrial size sweeper brooms and the colored banners off first. Often times the floors need sweeping before the carpets and mats arrive and if there is a question about where a piece of equipment is to go, we simply direct them to “Yellow!” or “Green!”, etc.
Folding tables, pick-nick tables, carpets, bins, etc are all labeled with the color of the room. We use colored electrical tape to put on top of the plastic bins or small supply boxes. (If a bin or box moves locations, we change the color of the tape.)
A supply list for each room and a photograph of how the room needs to be set up is placed beside each classroom door. This helps each team member work independently with setting up the room. They look at the photograph and place things accordingly. The supply list includes the number of carpets, chairs, tables, etc needed in that room.
It is wonderful to have children accompany their parents and help with setting up. Those colored banners, colored labeled boxes and photographs of the classrooms make it easy for the elementary age kids to work independently too.
All of the bins and smaller supply boxes are stored inside large carts. Each cart is labeled with a designated location (Preschool, Elementary, Administration.) Members of the set up team are assigned an area to set up for the duration of the month (rotation is to serve one month, three times a year). This also helps us to be more efficient with setting up and packing up the environments.
Carpets are placed in the rooms first and vacuumed.
Vacuum cleaners, cleaning products, first aid kits, colored banners and signage are loaded last on the trailer and the first to come off.
This is post #3 under category, “Portable Church–Church in a Box.”
I’ve noticed that many of you have discovered the wonderful portable rocking chair to use in a portable church environment. If you happened to miss reading that post, please go here (A portable church environment–#2) and definitely investigate the options of folding rocking chairs for a “Church in a Box” nursery environment. Look at this picture of a sweet environment created for little ones. It’s amazing how a classroom for high school students can be transformed into a warm and cozy space for infants and little ones just learning to crawl or toddle about. Don’t forget to have a few pack-in-plays for the babies that just want to sleep. But you know what…those pack-n-plays are seldom used because our volunteers love to rock and snuggle a sleeping baby for the entire hour! (However, you should have that portable bed ready. Because on that one Sunday you decided not to set up the pack-n-play…it will be needed!) This nursery belongs to Church of the Redeemer, located in the Charlotte, NC area.
Several weeks ago while vacationing with my husband, we visited Eternal Church, located in Fort Mill, South Carolina. We loved it! We were welcomed with friendly smiles, warm hand shakes and a hot cup of coffee! They were prepared to welcome us…their guests! Eternal Church is a portable church that meets regularly at the YMCA in Baxter Village. The gymnasium floor was protected with floor tarps and hundreds of chairs were set up for worship.
I really enjoyed taking a tour of the set up for elementary age kids. It was terrific to see kids meeting in small groups and listening to adults telling them about Jesus. It didn’t matter that they were sitting close to work-out machines. In fact, none of that was a distraction.
Portable Church or Church in Box works. I am a fan of church planting and multi church sites. It’s all about Jesus! Why else would a group of people give so much effort to set up church every week? Yes, it’s all about Jesus…plus relationships and don’t forget the coffee!
This is post #2 under category, “Portable Church–Church in a Box.”
Don’t you love it when you discover a solution that will meet a need? Our church has been meeting in a high school for many years. We set up and break down every week. Move desks out-of-the-way, clean up the floor space by sweeping away the debris left behind from students and disinfecting the bathrooms for the many children that will need to use the facilities. Then we place carpets on the floor and proceed to vacuum the carpets, which had been stored in the trailer for the week. We do the same things that everyone else does that owns their church building. We just happen to focus on cleaning our space and environments on the day that we meet. We are an example of team work at its best!
Our nursery ministry has doubled and then tripled. Fairly soon, we will welcome seven new babies! And volunteers like to rock babies and mothers also would like a comfy chair to sit in while they feed their little ones. The portable camp chairs we have can be difficult to use…especially attempting to stand up out of the chair while holding an infant. Besides, everyone wants to rock a baby. Babies like to be rocked. We needed rocking chairs. Portable [and comfortable] rocking chairs. I found the perfect chair!
Tip #2: Purchase portable rocking chairs for your nursery. Our volunteers are happy and especially our Moms! Here is a photo of the chair I purchased and the link to Camping World’s website. The price is just right for a tight children’s ministry budget!
[I have not received compensation for this endorsement. However, if Camping World's inventory of portable rocking chairs suddenly decreases due to the overwhelming number of rocking chairs sold [due to my endorsement of said chair, of course] our “church in a box” would be overjoyed to receive a free rocker in gratitude for this wonderful endorsement. And , of course, we would be thrilled to receive a rocking chair even if sales don’t sky-rocket.]
Church in a box can be tricky. We don’t meet in a traditional church environment…such as a building that we have purchased. But we do have a building to meet in…it just happens to be a high school in the heart of a growing community. We are thankful for this place to set up church every week. We have established a good relationship with the school staff and leadership. We understand that it can be a frustrating thought for the teachers to know that their classrooms are rearranged every week for busy little people to move about and to explore. The computers and smart boards and science books and social studies pyramid sculptures usually cry out to be touched by little hands. We know this and so we work very hard to maintain the integrity of the teacher’s space. And we do this quite well…
Because we enjoy setting up this portable church. Because we love to worship Creator God. We love families. We love kids.
We have been meeting in the high school for more than ten years. We continue to expand into more classrooms, lobby space, media center, outdoor green space, cafeteria…it’s amazing how fast we are able to set up our church in just a few hours. It’s amazing how fast we are growing. We are ready. Ready for everyone. Ready to worship and celebrate Jesus with children.
Here is a tip: Chart the design of the classroom layout before moving the desks against the wall. This will help with setting the classroom back in its original design. Also, purchase industrial style brooms and several dust pans to clean the floors before carpets and toys are placed in the room.
This is a photo of a nursery environment. I’ll post more photos and suggestions for setting up a portable church environment in future posts.