Four weeks ago, we tore down the Kidmin stage we had used for the past decade. It was a tough decision. So many memories of many kids' lives being changed around that stage. However, it was time. If you want to know WHY we tore down what seemed to be a perfectly good stage, see THIS POST.
Yesterday, we unveiled our NEW Kidmin stage. It is a significantly different approach. Many have asked what made us go the direction we went, so I thought I would document our thoughts here. Of course, I understand that every environment depends heavily on size, budget, and context. So, this is not a manifesto on how every Kidmin environment should be. It is a list of the thoughts that led us to do what we did. Enjoy!
1. It's simple. - Our old stage was so elaborate and overwhelming in its theme and look that it often overwhelmed the message and theming of a particular teaching series. We were unable to really theme for each teaching series because anything we added to the stage was swallowed by the color and personality of the stage itself.
2. It's versatile - We didn't want to be "locked in" to a particular look for a long time. Too often, churches spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on theming a room so that they can "compete with Disney." The problem is, Disney targets an audience that visits their environment once a year (or less often than that). People don't get tired of a look when they only visit annually. However, kids tire of a particular look very quickly when they see it EVERY WEEK. We wanted to be able to set the room up in a different way depending on our needs. This stage design (from Cinemation Design) is basically a giant LEGO set. We can mix and match and rearrange each piece however we want. Plus, we can purchase additional pieces down the road with minimal cost.
3. It's tough - Our old set was covered in styrofoam and then painted with a hardening "foam coat." It had a tendency to chip and peel when kids ran their hands across it (which kids tend to do). This stage is aluminum framed with sturdy wood tiles that are virtually indestructible. Each section of the main stage is designed to hold over 1,000 lbs on its own.
4. It's timeless - When we built our old set, we modeled it after a design that was very "Nickelodeon." Ten years later, it resembled "Nick Jr." more than it did "Nick." This stage allows us to continue to simply add inexpensive deco pieces and keep up with the changing looks of today's kid culture without breaking the bank.
5. It's technological - The entire stage comes alive because the pieces are covered in "milk glass", an opaque plexiglass that has LED lights behind it. Each week (or each song) can have a totally different look with the touch of a button. The entire room changes because the "look" is established by the lighting. When new lights come out, we can replace them and achieve whatever the latest technology allows. Not too far down the road, we hope to install "Environmental Projection" in the room. The entire area above the black portion of the wall will become a giant image screen. We will be able to project whatever picture, image, moving video, etc. that we wish. At that point, the entire ROOM comes alive.
6. It's economical - Now, I understand that when I say that there will undoubtedly be those who say, "Ha! My church could never afford that!" I encourage you to talk to my friends at Cinemation Design about what they can do for you. They have been able to totally transform even the smallest of rooms. We had originally talked to one of the popular "theming companies" about doing our room. If we would have went with them, we would have spent almost five times what we spent and we wouldn't have had the versatility that we have now.
We are very excited about being able to use our new stage to communicate the Gospel to a new generation of kids. We are thankful for a church and a pastor who believe in Kids Ministry to an amazing degree. So many families and individuals sacrificed to give in order to make this happen. They invested in this generation, and we are eternally thankful.
So, what do YOU look for in a stage design? What are some NON-NEGOTIABLES for you? What are you looking for in your next phase of stage design? Share your thoughts in the comments section. It is important that we all learn from each other! Thanks for joining in the conversation!
For those of you interested, here is a time-lapse video of the entire process. Also, below that is our first "unveil" for the kids - very fun!