A Passion for Reaching More Children—and Their Families—for Christ
By Pam Siddle
Dwight L. Moody once said,“If I could relive my life, I would devote my entire ministry to reaching children for God.” We have a similar commitment at Crossroads Christian Church in Grand Prairie, Texas, and God is using our children’s ministry to attract families to worship with us and ultimately reach more children for him. Here’s how we’re doing this.
Having a visually appealing, kid-friendly building is very important. Families love seeing areas designed specifically for children, and the kids are excited to be there. Our members also love having areas that are appealing and specific for kids. It makes it easy for them to invite friends and families with children to church. We want Sunday to be the most exciting day of the week for children, so we’ve designed our facilities to reflect somewhere every child wants to go—Disney!
On our previous campus, we designed and built an authentic castle as our children’s building. It had a drawbridge and a medieval armored knight; all of our team members wore authentic costumes. The entire community talked about the church with the castle, and kids wanted their friends to see the castle where they went to church! It drew a lot of people to our church. A drawback, we learned, is it limited the themes we could use. It just seemed awkward having a western-themed VBS in a castle!
When we moved to our current campus, we decorated and themed all of our children’s areas with wall murals and three-dimensional elements that appealed to kids and their parents. Kids feel more comfortable when they enter a fun, kid-friendly, welcoming environment. It shows parents that kids are a priority for us, and it demonstrates our passion for reaching kids and their families for Christ.
Our nursery area is called Giggleville, and we believe it is the happiest place on earth. The name brings a smile to people’s faces and helps them picture precious, giggling babies. Each room in Giggleville has soft pastel colors and wall murals of different baby animals such as bunnies, lambs, ducklings, and puppies.
Crossroads Station, our preschool area, is located just off the main lobby and features a train theme. The preschool’s entryway looks like a train platform. Inside, there is a working model railroad with six running trains that include, of course, Thomas the Tank Engine. Each room is decorated with bright colors that have an international flavor and feature animals and sights you’d see as a train passes by.
Our 4-year-olds enjoy what we refer to as Texas Hall. Each room includes imagery—including landmarks and sports teams—from a different city in Texas: Dallas, San Antonio, Fort Worth, and Houston.
From the outside, the children’s building looks like an art deco-styled movie theater. Upon entering, it looks like Main Street at Walt Disney World. The building includes a snack bar, ice cream shop, lots of classrooms, a two-story themed playground called the Park (with incredible, interactive play features), a huge theater that features stadium seating and three screens, a smaller theater just for kindergartners, a multisport gymnasium, and gaming stations.
This building was created for one purpose: to connect kids to God and to one another (Matthew 19:14).
Events and Programs
Special events and programs have also helped us attract families with children from our surrounding communities.
One example is a Saturday event we hold on Easter weekend. It is specifically geared toward families with children who wouldn’t normally come to one of our morning services. We host an outside service with a similar message to the one shared in our Sunday-morning services, but it also includes an Easter egg hunt with more than 100,000 eggs. After the egg hunt, kids can play on inflatables or join family members for a movie in our outdoor amphitheater. Local food vendors participate, which is the only associated charge. This event has brought thousands of people to our campus who wouldn’t otherwise come to church; many of them now attend on a regular basis.
Parents today are more concerned than ever about the safety of their children, On the evening of October 31, as an alternative to Halloween, we have a family event called the Hallelujah Carnival. We have loads of games where we hand out lots of candy. (We also have candy stations!) There are more than 30 inflatables, multiple petting zoos, pony rides, a huge cakewalk, face painting, balloon animals, and lots more. We also have areas designated for preschool and elementary children.
In December, we host a Christmas Lights Spectacular with thousands of outdoor lights synchronized to music. Food is available for purchase inside our children’s building, plus there are lots of family-friendly Christmas activities such as crafts, movies, and photos with Santa!
Our movie theater-style children’s venue lends itself to family movie days and nights several times during the year. These events are free for our community and church family.
Families are looking for fun, safe, high-quality, family-friendly events, so we try to offer such programs throughout the year. During the summer, we have a weeklong event called Kids Nights Live. This event is similar to Vacation Bible School; we do it in the evening and invite 4-year-olds through sixth-graders. We also have a basketball camp and sports camp for kindergartners through sixth-graders during the summer.
Some years ago, children’s sports leagues began scheduling activities on Sundays, causing whole families to miss church. Aside from that, many parents are seeking athletic opportunities for their children that will also teach good sportsmanship and character values. For these reasons, our church now offers a phenomenal sports program year-round for children ages 4 to 14; this program not only teaches values, but resolves the conflict with Sunday-morning church attendance.
Sports are huge in Texas. Crossroads Sports focuses on our church’s mission statement—connecting people to God and to one another. It’s a great way to get to know other church members and introduce friends, co-workers, and families in the community to Crossroads. Our high-quality program includes first-class uniforms, equipment, sports facilities, and fields. Our trained coaches and referees teach inspirational life lessons and encourage each athlete to perform to the best of his or her ability. Crossroads Kids Sports include basketball, soccer, flag football, volleyball, cheerleading, and tennis.
Through our children’s facilities, special family events, and kids’ programs, we are able to make more connections with kids and families in our community. Our desire is for our children’s ministry to make a greater impact in the lives of families in our community and reach more children for God. As George Barna once said, “In the race to a child’s heart, the first one there wins.”
Pam Siddle has served as children’s minister at Crossroads Christian Church in Grand Prairie, Texas, for 27 years. She is married and has one daughter and two grandchildren.