Behind the Scenes - What Goes Into a Weekend Kids’ Service?
One of my favorite TV shows is the History Channel’s “Modern Marvels,” a show that gives you a behind-the-scenes peek into the inner workings of things we take for granted every day. Sometimes I can’t believe how much effort goes into producing something that I don’t think twice about. That’s one of the things I love about serving on the Children’s Ministry team at Southland. I get to see the tremendous effort that goes into pulling off incredible weekend experiences for kids. Go ahead and dismiss any notions of a lone Sunday School teacher skimming a curriculum book and preparing a felt board and a few craft supplies. Pulling off weekend children’s services at Southland requires the coordination and collaboration of hundreds of staff and volunteers, all working together to help our kids experience Jesus week after week after week. I thought I would give you a quick look at what it really takes to create a weekend experience for Southland kids.
About two months before a weekend series goes live in the room, our team gathers for a brainstorming session. In this meeting our Programming Team provides us with an overview of our upcoming series including the Bible stories and key concepts. During this meeting we look for fun themes and current cultural trends to use to present old lessons in fresh ways. For example, in our last brainstorming session we took a series on Psalm 23 called “Show Me the Shepherd” and changed it to “The Sheep Life of Jack & Brody” to liven it up and give it more kid appeal.
Unpacking the Curriculum
After the brainstorming session, various members of our programming team take the scripts for the Large Group program and tear them apart. We evaluate each script through several filters.
- Is it biblical?
- Is it age-appropriate?
- Is it creative and fun?
- Does it have a compelling hook to get our kids’ attention?
- Does it engage multiple learning styles or does it just use a teacher as a talking head?
- Does it provide clear, tangible application, giving the kids something to do differently on Monday because of what they heard on Saturday or Sunday?
- Is there at least one powerful moment where kids can do business with God?
At this point, our large group programmers plan every element of the service, including worship and special elements, and plot the whole thing out on a storyboard so that we can map out the spiritual and emotional journey we’ll be taking kids on for the weekend. After this, they rewrite the scripts and send it on to the rest of the staff and our volunteers.
Putting Together the Pieces
Once we have a final script, our team attacks it, each adding his or her own unique, creative gifts. Diana Bower begins locating, purchasing or creating all props and costumes. Nicole Ernst communicates details of the weekend to our volunteer teams including teachers, worship leaders and actors and recruits any additional people needed. Chris Tetterton begins designing the tech elements. This includes computer graphics, videos, sound effects and lighting cues.
This may seem like a lot of work, because, well, it is. But can you think of anything that deserves more time, effort and attention than helping kids fall in love with Jesus and follow Him? Yeah, me neither.
As you can see, the preparation that goes into these weekend services is closer to a Disney stage show than a simple kids’ lesson. But this is just the beginning. In my next post, we’ll take a look at what how our Children’s Ministry team takes all of this preparation and puts it into action. See you back here next time for another look behind-the-scenes.
Jason Byerly, Children's Pastor