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As a teenager, I worked at a grocery store.  I’ll never forget one of the only store-wide trainings they ever held.  While our store director was talking, he explained how a single grape on a shelf was worth very little, but that same grape on the floor could cost the store $10,000 if someone stepped on it and got hurt.  Only a few feet separated that grape from worthless to expensive.  The point was not lost on me, little things matter.  As an employee, stopping to pick up a fallen grape was a very valuable part of my job (though they didn’t see that point when I tried to send them the bill for picking up the grape).

When we talk about environments in kidmin, we’re typically talking about things like the full set designs and themed environments housed in large churches.  These things can easily cost thousands of dollars and are completely inaccessible to a majority of churches.  But when we make our kidmin environments about just those kinds of things, we miss out so much of what really institutes “environment.”

When it comes to children’s ministry environments, little details matter.  It is less about the big flashy decorations and more about the little details.  When kids walk into your space, do they see a clean environment or one littered with last week’s take-home papers?  This idea not only screams chaos, but also communicates that those papers are certainly not important.  What kind of ambiance, if any, is present.  Is there music playing?  Is it music your kids would enjoy?  Do things in the room communicate fun or does it look more like a typical school classroom?  Are decorations modern or do they look like something from the 1970s?

And most importantly, what is the relationship environment?  Are your volunteers scary or friendly?  Are kids greeted at the registration table by a welcoming person or someone who just wants to get them through the line as quickly as possible?  A simple smile from a volunteer is worth more than you or I can imagine to a child.

Everything about your kids space needs to scream, “This is a church that loves God and loves kids!”  I’ll be the first to admit that my church is still working towards this goal and certainly I do not claim to be the standard.  But it is also something that I make sure to make myself aware of and we are often changing things up to make our space even better for our kids.  Not long ago, I spread the rows apart creating an aisle down the middle.  This made the whole room feel less crowded and cramped.  It also allows me to walk through the kids which makes the lesson more engaging.  That’s a $10,000 grape.

What $10,000 grapes do you need to work on in your church?  What little things are you ignoring that are costing you and the kids you serve?  Talk a walk through your space or, better yet, bring a notebook this Sunday and write down your $10,000 grapes to work on.  Inspire us with your grapes in the comment section.