Every year at Hillsong Church we gather people from all over the world and run Hillsong Conference here in Sydney. All of our teenagers get to participate in JAM and our children come and hang out with our Kids Pastors and amazing volunteer team as we run Kidsong!
I get requests occasionally for what exactly we do for up to four days and five nights – especially when kids arrive at 9am and are back with their parents for a short break at about 4pm then back for our night sessions at maybe 6pm with pickup at 9pm.
The following is a blog post from Eva Stringleman our Hillsong Kids Events and Projects Coordinator, there is no one better to write about how we pull off Kidsong each year than her. This is part one of a series that will take you inside and out of our biggest event of the year, hopefully inspire and inform children’s pastors and leaders!
(Hillsong Kids Pastor)
KIDSONG INSIDE AND OUT: PART ONE
“To all who come to this happy place, welcome…” – Walt Disney
I hope Walt Disney doesn’t mind me using their line, but I just love how much it conveys in 9 short words and I claim this across all of our children’s events each year.
Welcome to all who come, regardless of race, colour or creed.
Welcome to a happy place of fun, games, friends, family, laughter, connection, acceptance, revelation.
Welcome to Church.
We are blessed to have the opportunity to host children from all over Australia & the world at KIDSONG* each year (the children’s program for Hillsong Conference). The first element any parent or child sees is the WELCOME (for many parents it’s all they see) and in that welcome we endeavour to capture the whole essence of Kidsong. We still have a lot to learn but here are some hopefully helpful tips on how we put together our welcome at Kidsong.
The welcome can be defined by two main elements: our Creative Team & the theme. This year our theme was ‘The Greatest Story Ever Told’ and we embraced a 1930’s circus vibe across our staging, colours, outfits & decoration.
We usually open our programs for parents to drop off their children up to one hour before the full evening program starts. Our worship & dance teams finish their rehearsals as we start to receive children so during that hour before they are on stage, they make up an integral part of welcoming the families and children.
The teams are dressed in bright colourful themed outfits and are armed with acoustic guitars & box drums to sing songs. It’s important that their outfits match & are clean, ironed, tidy, modest & fun. They wave colourful flags, hi-five the children as they arrive, cheer, blow bubbles and create a lot of excitement. It’s a huge amount of noise and colour and smiling faces and craziness and it’s exciting and welcoming and is a perfect representation of the whole program.
“We want to release the kids leaders so they can connect with children in the program plus we also want our kids creative teams to be a part of the bigger picture of Hillsong kids on top of doing praise & worship.” – Beci Wakerley, Hillsong Kids Creative Pastor
We have anywhere between 4 to 8 creative welcome teams at each location.
Our program spans across 7 different venues and most are multi-use throughout conference so we cannot have a permanent welcome set-up. All that we create needs to be portable, sturdy, and be able to take down or put up in approximately 10 minutes by a small team.
This has previously limited us to a few items like large bunches of helium balloons and signage, however this year I gave the job to pioneer a colourful & exciting welcome design to one of our amazing staff Kathryn Macdowall. (budget was limited so she did well with a little).
I’ve asked Kathryn to elaborate on what she did and here is some of her wisdom & handy tips to help you create your own WOW welcome!
My decorating theme was vintage circus with one strict rule… NO CLOWNS.One of my favourite elements we made this year was a series of Side Show Freak style posters, but using Bible Characters eg. “Jonah the man that was swallowed by a whale and lived to talk about it”, “Abraham & Sarah, the world’s oldest parents”. We printed 100’s of them and plastered them all through the programs. We used MASSIVE 30inch helium balloons at the entrances along with festoon lights and check in “ticket” booths. In the rooms were oodles and oodles of paper chains, hanging hot air balloons and we even made some cute fold up play tents for our preschoolers.
Here are some key tips to consider when planning your welcome:
Keep it simple!
Colour Charts. Choose 4-5 colours that suit the theme and work well together. I chose a deep red, orange, yellow, cream and navy blue and for the preschool age groups I chose pink, yellow, orange, blue and purple.
Inspiration is everywhere! Utilise an inspiration board. This is really easy to do using Pinterest. Look at shop window displays, browse the website for ideas and I even paid a visit to the Wiggles Props team! Here’s our board if you’d like to take a look pinterest.com/kathrynjoy_/kidsong-2012
Use what you have: Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle. We scoured our storage areas, repurposed old Christmas spectacular props and visited a wonderful place called Reverse Garbage.
Have a plan. Make a detailed plan of what needs to go where and give pictures of what the finished product should look like to the team.
Safety first! Make sure things are safe to be walked under, around and through, check fire hazard rules, use weights incase of wind etc.
We hope this is a blessing to you as you plan your children’s programs and we hope to see you at Hillsong Conference 2013!
(Hillsong Kids Events Coordinator)
Click here to read ‘Kidsong Inside & Out Pt. 2’
*Kidsong is the Children’s program for Hillsong Conference for all children aged between 3 years old & Grade 6 (approx. 12 years of age).