"Kids' Church should look more like Disneyland than Holy Land"

by | Oct 15, 2013 | Best of!

It’s one of those stories that makes you wonder: What is the purpose of church?  When does entertainment cross the line? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this one via KNEWS CBS in Bismark, ND:
KXNet – Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson

After five years in the planning, a local Bismarck church reinvents Sunday school.
“Kids’ church should look more like Disneyland than the Holy Land,” says Doug Graham, Lead Pastor, Evangel Assembly of God in Bismarck.

Kids slide into church Courtesy KXNEWS

Kids slide into church
Courtesy KXNEWS

This one certainly does. It’s over 17,000 square feet of fun — unlike anything you’ve probably seen — in church. There’s a high-tech auditorium, air hockey, as well as a fish tank and bounce house, plus a store where your purchases are made — not with cash — but with attendance and Bible points.
Then there’s the tube — so you can slide into church. “We definitely have the fun, but we have the power of God, as well. When they come here, [they] walk out knowing that God is real and God loves them,” says Aaron Strawn, Children’s Pastor, Evangel Assembly of God.
Why all the fun — in church?
Evangel Assembly of God says kids learn externally long before they develop internally. The idea is to offer things familiar to their world. “The same Bible, but it’s a different method of getting the truth into their little hearts,” says Pastor Graham.
Getting the project done was not without its challenges. Kid friendly can mean adult expensive, plus “our community has been boom for economic activity, which means all of our local contractors, sub-contractors, are very, very busy, and costs to build have gone through the roof, which is a good thing for those who are in that business, but a little more challenging for those of us trying to build projects,” notes Pastor Graham.
The church is quick to point out, this investment is not just for Evangel. Children’s Pastor Strawn says, “we just want to let you know, the community, that we built this for you.”
And attendance is already up. “After church today, there were kids crying leaving church, because they didn’t want to go home,” says Pastor Strawn.
The new children’s church fits 500, but the church says, they have plenty of room. Services are at 10:00, 11:30 and Wednesday nights at 6:30 for kids.

Hat tip: Ransel Anderson