Guest post by Ryan McMackin, FCKids children’s worship pastor
“Enhanced” is a trendy word these days. Seemingly everything in our culture has been enhanced in some way; tweaked so it’s bigger, better, faster, stronger, etc. Our bottled water is enhanced with electrolytes to aid in hydration. Our phones are enhanced with smart technology so we can play Angry Birds anywhere. Our TVs are enhanced with HD channels so we can see the individual blades of grass on the football field.
Now, we can argue the merits of some of these “enhancements,” but their existence and popularity prove that human beings are always looking for their life, and everything in it, to go to a higher level.
In FCKids, we are always looking for ways to enhance our worship services, and we will try anything if we think it will help kids learn about God. We do big events like Adventure Week (think Vacation Bible School on steroids), lock-ins at Legoland, and kids camp at Allaso Ranch. While those things are great, I think little enhancements make a huge impact in our ministry. Often overlooked in the light of big events, the value of these little tweaks is tremendous because they don’t require thousands of dollars, thousands of volunteers, or thousands of man-hours to put together.
In the last year, I’ve seen two of these little enhancements make a big difference in our kids’ church experience. The first is a bubble machine. We added two bubble machines in the atrium of our children’s building, strategically placed to where almost every kid who comes to church has to walk by them. We turn them on fifteen minutes before service and fifteen minutes after service, and the kids go nuts. Every weekend, I see kids playing in the giant mass of bubbles created by these machines, completely oblivious to anything else around them. The kids’ favorite thing in our atrium is not the giant purple mountain made of foam or any of the other amazingly cool visuals we have; it’s the $70.00 bubble machines.
The second enhancement came during our Easter series called Good News. One of the music videos, a song called “Hosanna,” features a group of high school students with glow sticks, waving them back and forth to the beat of the song. This gave our staff an idea: What if we got glow sticks for the kids, and passed them out during the song? So, we bought battery powered glow sticks (much cheaper than buying real glow sticks every weekend), and for the eight weeks of Good News, we passed them out in each service to each kid. When the chorus of “Hosanna” would start with, “Hey, hands in the air with a wave, lifted to the One who can save…” we would turn the lights off and all the kids would wave the glow sticks back and forth. They loved it. And by the way, so did our volunteers. It was a very cool sight.
Now, neither of these enhancements are flashy. And by themselves, neither will change a kid’s life. Certainly not like Adventure Week or kids camp can. But they do create excitement, and excitement brings kids back to church. As our pastor, Ed Young, says, “Small tweaks take you to giant peaks.” It’s often the little enhancements that make the biggest difference.
At night, you can sometimes find me drinking bottled water and playing Angry Birds while ESPN HD is airing commercials. Have these things changed my life? No. But they’ve definitely enhanced it.