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I am the Children’s Ministry Coordinator at City Church Houston, which is a fairly young church plant. Our vision is to renew Houston by bringing beauty into broken places, and it just so happens that we have church in a bar.
Yes, there’s a bar in the room! It’s not exactly the ideal environment for children’s ministry.
Since day one our church has met at the House of Blues in downtown Houston, and our children’s ministry meets upstairs in one of their smaller concert venues. Yes, there’s a bar in the room! It’s not exactly the ideal environment for children’s ministry. But the truth is that most of us don’t have an ideal environment for ministry – even if our case is a bit extreme! I’ve learned so much from setting up a children’s ministry space in bar week after week, and I want to share three of these lessons with you.
Flexibility Is Key
When I walk into the bar each Sunday morning, I never know what I’m going to find left over from the night before. In fact, I’m still finding confetti remnants from the New Year’s Eve bash that was held in the space.
It took some time, but I have come to learn that flexibility is the key to success in this type of setting. Many Sunday mornings do not go the way I expect, and I have learned to check my expectations at the door.
I have also discovered sometimes the best flexibility is planned flexibility.
I have also discovered sometimes the best flexibility is planned flexibility. Often we have to think on our feet and come up with alternatives to the original plan. This is one of the biggest lessons I have learned from my time at City Church. Because we do not have complete control over the space and environment, I have discovered how wise and important it is to be prepared for any and every scenario.
The space we have to work with is large open room used for smaller concerts at the House of Blues. There is a stage in the front and a bar in the back, and we found ourselves in the position of needing to get creative with the space. Someone had the idea to set up camping tents around the perimeter of the room to serve as classrooms, and chairs in front of the stage for a large group space.
We have been able to use this not-so-ideal situation to our advantage.
We have been able to use this not-so-ideal situation to our advantage, and I never tire of seeing children’s faces light up when they learn they get to have Sunday school in a camping tent.
Once we tapped into the mindset of using the environment to our advantage, we came up with some awesome ideas. On one of my favorite Sundays, we used the bowling alley just steps away from our door. The kids rotated through hearing the Bible story and getting to bowl with their friends. We used this as an event for our families to invite their friends and neighbors to come check out City Church, and it was a huge success.
Since our entire children’s space gets set up and torn down each Sunday, it doesn’t leave a lot of room for all the “bells and whistles” of children’s ministry, and that is okay. It’s not that the bright and shiny “bells and whistles” aren’t useful, but we have quickly realized they just aren’t necessary for teaching the Gospel. I have come to learn instead that relationships are what matter.
For us, ministry is almost entirely dependent upon our relationships with the kids – and isn’t that the way it should be?
Our space is simple and minimalist. Many games, activities and crafts just can’t be accomplished in a bar! For us, ministry is almost entirely dependent upon our relationships with the kids – and isn’t that the way it should be? I have seen some of the sweetest friendships formed and many kids come to know Christ. That is what matters.
Beauty in a Broken Place
Once we began to be flexible, think creatively, and value relationships, we turned what could be a daunting environment into something pretty amazing. I think these three lessons can be useful no matter where you have church.
I believe this is exactly what it looks like to bring beauty into a broken place.
Above all, my hope for every child is to remember the essential components of the Gospel, and walk away with meaningful relationships with caring adults and life-long friends. Having church in a bar might seem strange, but it’s a way that we can be outward facing and love our city to life. I believe this is exactly what it looks like to bring beauty into a broken place.
Want to know more? Check out a video of what our Children’s Ministry looks like:
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