During the school week Monday through Friday there are over 600 Kindergarten Four through Grade Twelve day school students in my sample church classroom and nursery facilities. Nearly all the classrooms have school desks for the students. Most elementary classrooms have all walls covered with school lessons; some classrooms have displays hanging from the entire suspended ceiling. In many cases all the storage is for school days.
On Sunday, most churches could be comprised of perhaps 75 percent adults, 18 percent school ages 5–17, and 7 percent preschool children (since this is the age distribution of the community demographics). Where do you place the adult Sunday school classes? This decision has major impact on adult education and assimilation in your church.
Or, is there a room large enough that we can arrange for children’s church? Awana Club night poses other major questions: Where will we have Council Time? Where can we store all the equipment, supplies, awards, and shirts?
It is common for me to see even first-grade school desks stacked on one side of the classroom, while metal folding chairs have been brought in for the adult Sunday school class arranged in a congregational setting for the lecture. But the first-grade school lessons are still posted throughout the room. In other settings, the adults are squeezed into the junior high or high school desks, showing the adults how much weight they have gained since they were graduated from high school, and that the priority for the use of space is still the school and not adults. (I’ve had some school teachers argue that since the school uses the room five days a week and the church for 45 minutes, the school has the proportionate space priority. I found one classroom locked on Sunday by the day school teacher.)
You must have a strong church to have a strong school.
You must give adequate priority to adult education, especially in the Sunday school (of at least one hour) to assimilate adults into the church. Therefore, adults (especially the majority of households who do not have children ages 0–18 in the household [community demographics]) must be given evident priority in space utilization if you are going to reach the adult potential of your community, aiding you in building your church with an age-group distribution comparable to the community. (Most churches with schools demonstrate a primary appeal to families with school children, while lacking in adult constituency, especially adults without children in the home.)
You must address this space challenge. Here are some hints to consider:
a. Provide some classrooms dedicated to adults. These may be classrooms used exclusively for adults and furnished accordingly (preferably comfortable chairs at round tables for multiple adult small groups within a large room), or a multipurpose area using movable dividers to separate adult classes comprised of small groups.
b. If you must use school classrooms for adults, use the rooms for older school ages, then furnish these rooms with tables and chairs to be reconfigured on Sunday, rather than school desks.
c. On Sunday or club night, place the same age group of children and youth in the school classrooms used for these age groups. Then the furniture and surroundings are more appropriate. Again, consider tables and chairs instead of desks.
d. Allocate display space in each room for each use, so that church functions have spaces to work with as well.
e. Provide storage space in each classroom for each function that meets in the room. Limit the number of functions per classroom; you can’t effectively have day school, Awana, Sunday school, and children’s church in the same room without some very careful planning.
f. Be sure new classrooms are designed large enough to have storage space for each function, and enough space for the number of students desired in the room (at least 25 square feet per pupil).
g. Dedicate church nurseries (ages 0–3) to exclusive church use. This limits exposure of the church babies to communicable diseases carried by the larger numbers of day care children. Furthermore, the church nursery ministry is much different than the day care services, requiring different furnishings.