When WFM first asked Worlds of Wow’s Reagan Hillier, president of the Argyle, Texas, company, the best way to find out what types of worship spaces children like best, he joked, “We tell them what they like.” In fact, the reverse is true. Hillier lets the children—and their parents—tell church leaders what they want to see. It’s their space, after all.
Hillier uses a number of techniques to poll young congregation members. “We’ll put together artwork or storylines and the leaders will share the pictures, and get the kids to clap or yell to vote for the ones they like best. We can also do a take-home survey, where kids and parents together make multiple-choice selections for themes, color schemes, and other elements. When we graph it out, we can literally see what resonates with members of that church.”
Hillier and his team also spend time going through a creative meeting with the children’s leadership, asking questions that reveal what works in their community and culture. “What works for a church here in Dallas won’t necessarily work as well for a church that’s in another part of the country—or sometimes even the same area. Each church is unique,” Hillier states.
Of course, when it comes to designing children’s worship spaces, it doesn’t hurt to be a kid at heart, according to Jonathan Martin, owner of Jonathan Martin Creative (JMC) in Tulsa, Okla. “I can go to a theme park and ride some of the youngest rides and walk away greatly inspired,” he says, revealing that the JMC headquarters are themed out like an old submarine. “We never plan to grow up.”
Martin believes that, like himself and his employees, themed worship environments can be timeless, too. “It’s all about how the environments we create get used. If the children’s pastor has a vision of how they’ll fully utilize the theme, then the theme can live forever.”