The economy took a toll on the themed industry. I watched very large companies collapse; some companies left the industry and others changed focus and direction. Some opted for only providing wallpaper, others focused on any work that could be found, Children’s Ministries or other. And yet others, like us, flowed with the economy and the needs of Children’s Ministry.
First, I will state that I still believe that dollar for dollar, a quality, well designed themed Children’s Ministry is still the best investment for drawing in unsaved families. Period. I said this before… even above VBS.
So, let’s talk about where we’re at today and what tomorrow holds. Over the last couple years an evolution in decorating has brought in some new ways to theme a children’s space.
The first is a larger focus by some for the use of wallpaper. I believe that wallpaper will continue to be used by some as an option. We have looked at it and for us the cost to produce, and install it just doesn’t quite compete with a custom design that is specific to what a client wants. Wallpaper is predesigned, with some ability to move characters around and relocate in different places on the predesigned backgrounds. But again, for some I believe this will meet their needs.
Incorporating play equipment into a facility is another newer option. This type of addition is expensive so be prepared. Small pieces start around $10,000 and can run easily over $200,000. I believe that there is a place for play equipment but make sure it is a good fit for you. Play attractions hold there popularity for very specific age groups. If you are going to utilize a play attraction piece do your homework. Make sure it is what you want, that you are working with a reputable manufacturer (not just the seller), parts are available because things wear out, and there is service after the sale.
3D/2D Sculpted Pieces
I believe most are opting not to install much 3D stuff anymore. The expense is very high, and the usefulness is questionable. I saw that for years and now I am totally convinced that it is not a good purchase at all. I recently spoke with a church that was consulting with us on designing a new Nursery Building. They had hired a company to build out a town in 3D down a main hallway. Spending $500,000 to do so. They shared that they do not like it at all 2 years later now. It is too intrusive, takes up a large part of the hall and the impact is no longer there for anyone.
However, 2D work is gaining traction. It is much more cost effective than 3D and has a nice depth change to accomplish the desired effect. I see more of this in the future although in a limited amount. This is an area that we are giving more focus to.
Ok, here is my disclaimer… this is, and has been our focus for the past 11 years. My comments could be considered bias. I believe that this basic form of custom themed work is hands down the best way to go to create a theme. Here is why. I believe the return on your themed investment is unchurched kids and families being drawn into a church because of the theme. From what I see in our industry, it doesn’t matter if you have 3D or 2D stuff in your theme, play equipment, or animatronics, compared to just a great mural theme created. The percentage of increase in the number of families is the same from my information. You could spend $100,000 more on all of the extra “stuff” than you need to but the result will be the same as just muraling a great theme. This will still be the primary form of theme creation in my opinion for the future.
Ok so what does the future look like? I think that it is looking up. The last couple of years have been tough on churches and the recovery will be slow but steady. I think the interest in creating a great themed Children’s Ministry has been there and will continue to grow. I will say that I am happier seeing churches be wiser about their theme inquiries. Most are no longer just jumping in with a blank check ready to do everything and anything. They are thinking, talking with others and making much wiser decisions. I like that!
As for Creative For Kids... We are excited about the future and we are still focused on 3 areas:
You do it! - Our product line of Do-it-yourself resources continues to grow. Our Mural Kits, and wall hangings are still excellent at cost effectively decorating. We now have over 750 Wall Stickers and we have just launched and quickly expanded our Posters & Banners to just over 40 at this article. We plan on adding 25 a month until we fill out the categories we a focused on.
We help you do it! Working together has been fantastic! The number of churches interested in partnering together with us to create an amazing theme has been beyond our expectations.
We do it for you! Providing a “turn-key” solution has been the foundation of our work for these last 11 years.