Author Archive for Dr. Tim S. Smith

The 5 Biggest Mistakes Churches Make in Classroom Design

narrowroomWHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? I’ve seen more than five mistakes so this will not be a complete exhaustive list of things to avoid or include in the design of your new education space.  I wish there were only five mistakes so we could easily make those corrections but life is not that easy.  It can also be different for the various age groups that meet in the education space but here are the top five issues I’ve seen in recent years.

WHAT DO I DO? Consider these mistakes and ideas:

  1. Too many churches have been guilty neglecting preschool, children and youth space.  They’ve provided for the adults and in particular they’ve taken care of the older adults but fail to provide the best space for the next generation.  I told someone last week, “I always want to be part of a church that is for the next generation.”  So put my class or group in the worst space but make sure that my kids and grandkids have the best!
  2. Churches need space for moving people and gathering for non-official fellowship time.  When they design their buildings they don’t provide hallways that are wide enough nor do they include spaces for gathering prior to, during or following small group and worship experiences.
  3. Yes, we are spoiled and we would have time making in other places around the world but we like our modern-day conveniences.  Don’t go cheap when it comes to HVAC!  I always recommend that churches include both a supply line as well as a return line in every classroom.  Also make sure you include technology such as Wi-Fi, video and audio.
  4. Another big mistake is when churches break what I call the “1 for 2” rule.  That is when they design a classroom that becomes a long narrow box.  The goal should be for the classrooms to be more like a square than rectangular.
  5. When I started in ministry this was not even a thought but today it’s a different story because it is a different world!  When we design our church spaces we need to take very seriously the security issues.  In designing space for those under 18, the space needs one way in and it needs to be controlled.  Make sure your church has a plan in place for dealing with the various security issues.

How to Set up Your Classroom to Improve Your Teaching

In this post we will look at how to set up your classroom to improve your teaching.  Why is this important?  Because the environment of the classroom, including how the room is arranged, has a major impact on learning.  A good teacher is equally concerned about the content of their lesson as well as the environment of the classroom.

Here are some ideas that you can use to make sure that your classroom is assisting you in teaching your students.

  1. I would encourage you to vary the ways that the chairs are set up in the room. Let the set up assist you in your teaching.  The ideal set up is a semi-circle but some times it may be needed to arrange the chairs in rows for lecture or in small groups of circles to encourage discussion or an activity.
  2. Another important point to remember is to always make sure that the entrance door to the classroom is always at the rear of the classroom. This is to reduce the possibility of a disturbance from those arriving late or from the activities in the hallway.
  3. Because of the influence of technology, most people today are visual learners or their learning is enhanced through visuals. Use a focal wall with the simplest of visuals such as a bulletin board and/or a white board.  If possible a flat screen TV would enhance your teaching through the use of video clips, info graphics and slides.
  4. The classroom needs plenty of light so make sure there is an appropriate amount of good clean light for the room. Either install new lighting or add some stand alone type lamps.
  5. The comfort of the classroom will also very important. Make sure that the chairs are comfortable and also make sure that there is air movement in the room.  If the HVAC is not adequate and can not be corrected, then you may need to use a ceiling or floor fan.  If the room is not warm enough it may require a safe floor heater.

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Dr. Smith serves as a state missionary with the Georgia Baptist Mission Board and is the Groups and Faith Development Specialist.  Visit their website at gabaptistgroups.org for more information and other resources to aid your ministry.  You can also connect with Dr. Smith at facebook.com/GABaptistGroups or twitter.com/GABaptistGroups  Dr. Smith is available for conferences or other speaking opportunities and can be contacted at tsmith@gabaptist.org.

The Three Most Important Areas in Your Church

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WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? What are the three most important areas in your church (other than the worship center and classrooms)?  Notice that I said in your church so that doesn’t include the parking lot nor the church sign but those are very important as well!  I also excluded the worship space and classrooms but I will make one exception.

WHAT DO I DO? In my opinion the most important area(s) of your church are the preschool and children’s areas.  This will include their classrooms, reception areas, inside play areas, large group/worship space(s), etc.  Anything that is for the kids at church needs to be as nice or nicer than the newest daycare and/or elementary school nearest the church.  Why?  Because that’s what is expected.

The second most important area at your church is a space I don’t visit!  Its your ladies’ restrooms!  Guys are different and we are okay with stuff but women are different.  We’ve stopped going to restaurants because their women’s’ restrooms were dirty.  I don’t understand the issue because they’re not cooking in there!  Make sure your ladies’ restrooms are clean and nice.

Third on my list is your hallways and gathering spaces.  People want and need space to gathering and congregate.  That space also needs to be bright and up-to-date.  It needs to be clean and well kept.  I’ve always said that you can tell how healthy a church is by how early the people come and by how late they stay.  If your church doesn’t provide the space for gathering, then it could be a hindrance to the growth of your church.

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Dr. Smith serves as a state missionary with the Georgia Baptist Mission Board and is the Groups and Faith Development Specialist.  Visit their website at gabaptistgroups.org for more information and other resources to aid your ministry.  You can also connect with Dr. Smith at facebook.com/GABaptistGroups or twitter.com/GABaptistGroups  Dr. Smith is available for conferences or other speaking opportunities and can be contacted at tsmith@gabaptist.org.

 

Five Ways to Update Your Classroom Without Spending Too Much

barnWHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? “Every barn needs a little paint”.  It is amazing what can happen when you give even the oldest space a little attention.  First impressions are very important and we only get one chance to make a good first impression.  The way we dress says a lot about a person.  The way your classroom looks says a lot about your group.  So what are five simple things you could do to update your classroom without spending too much money?

WHAT DO I DO? First, clean it!  Take a Saturday morning and have a workday in your classroom.  Provide breakfast for the members and clean up your classroom.  Throw away anything that is outdated or broke!  The things that are in your classroom that you don’t use put them in storage.  Dust and wipe down the walls, scrub the floors or vacuum the carpet.  Don’t forget to wash the windows and the window treatments.

Second, put in new lights.  You can replace the existing lights or add new ones.  Make sure you clean the room before putting in new lights because all the dirt will be seen with new lights.

Third, paint the room.  Again plan a workday and paint the classroom.  Make sure you check with the appropriate leaders at your church because there may be certain color pattern for your church.  Don’t pick out a dark color nor do you want to pick out an unusual color.  Stay with the basic comfortable colors.

Fourth, hang some new visuals in the classroom.  Put up a new white marker board and/or a new bulletin board.  Go to the Christian bookstore and get some decorations to hang on the walls.  Don’t make it too much but just enough to make it look new.

Fifth, purchase some new chairs. Before you say that costs too much go and price nice chairs at the local big box store like Staples, Costco, Sam’s, etc.  You will be amazed at how new chairs will change the look of the classroom.

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Dr. Smith serves as a state missionary with the Georgia Baptist Mission Board and is the Groups and Faith Development Specialist.  Visit their website at gabaptistgroups.org for more information and other resources to aid your ministry.  You can also connect with Dr. Smith at facebook.com/GABaptistGroups or twitter.com/GABaptistGroups  Dr. Smith is available for conferences or other speaking opportunities and can be contacted at tsmith@gabaptist.org.

 

Scheduling Makes Class Time More Effective

scheduleWHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? I’ve been accused of calendaring everything, even my own funeral!  There is a story but way too long for this short blog.  Even in our Sunday School classes we need to be better organized with the limited time that we have on Sunday mornings.  The following is a schedule that I like to use and recommend to other Sunday School teachers and leaders.  Please note that this is for an adult class and will not work in a class for preschoolers or elementary age children.

WHAT DO I DO?

Fellowshipping Together (5-10 minutes)

  1. The FELLOWSHIP LEADER will provide light refreshments.
  2. The SECRETARY will begin the record keeping process.
  3. The ADMINISTRATIVE LEADER will make announcements and serve as the timekeeper.

Evangelizing Others (5-10 minutes)

  1. The GREETER is welcoming everyone and assisting guests to be registered.
  2. The MISSIONS LEADER will lead the group to be involved in missions.
  3. The OUTREACH/EVANGELISM LEADER will lead the group to pray for the lost, be involved in outreach ministry and contact those on the prospect list.

Loving People (5-10 minutes)

  1. The CARE GROUP LEADERS will report on prayer needs and ministry opportunities discovered as well as identify those absent and make plans for follow-up.
  2. The PRAYER LEADER will lead the group to pray for specific needs and ask for other prayer needs.

Investigating God’s Word (30-45 minutes)

  1. The DISCIPLESHIP LEADER will remind the group of the importance of a personal worship time and distribute devotional guides.

The TEACHER or the APPRENTICE will lead the will lead the Bible study.  Bible study should have at least 30 minutes.

 

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By: Dr. Smith serves as a state missionary with the Georgia Baptist Mission Board and is the Groups and Faith Development Specialist.  Visit their website at gabaptistgroups.org for more information and other resources to aid your ministry.  You can also connect with Dr. Smith at facebook.com/GABaptistGroups or twitter.com/GABaptistGroups  Dr. Smith is available for conferences or other speaking opportunities and can be contacted at tsmith@gabaptist.org