We have begun work on a very interesting and challenging project at the Grace Community Bible Church in Houston, Texas. The church currently operates Jubilation, a program for their children's ministries that breaks the mold of 'Sunday school' and has been described by one theologian as "the cutting edge of children's ministry in America."
Their children's program for K thru 5th graders currently includes four fully themed venues the children visit each Sunday: "Time Traveler," "World Missions Adventure," "Joyful Noise," and "the Potter and the Clay."
These venues are no ordinary classrooms. They are far removed. For example, in the Time Traveler, children enter a room that looks like a professor's study. There they meet the Time Traveler Professor in costume who briefs them on that day's journey back in time. He then activates the time machine with flashing lights, spinning clocks and other apparatus. It looks like something right out of Jules Verne. Then the children enter the time tunnel with flashing lights. They exist the other end to find themselves in a themed setting from Biblical times where actors act out about a seven-minute scene from a story in the Bible. The children then reenter the time tunnel to go back to the present day where they discuss what they have just seen with the Time Traveler Professor.
White Hutchinson has been retained by the church to evaluate the feasibility of expanding the Jubilation program with additional venues and developing a new facility to house it that can accommodate field trips and other uses, developing 24/7 edutainment venues for families and children, look at other ways to expand the church's children's, youth and family ministries and develop a master development program for the entire campus. We just completed a workshop with the children's ministry staff and the Jubilation volunteers on applying developmentally appropriate practice to Jubilation's program.