Developing The CM Facility – Meeting In Trailers
“How can the CM survive, and flourish in our own modular trailers, with little space?”
Operating the CM in modular trailers is challenging for everyone; but at least they are your trailers! The issues related to this situation are safety, signage, communication, and space. In a growing ministry, you may fill the trailers’ capacity and be faced with recruiting more CM team members to add more classes and satisfy the “Never Alone” policy.
“…I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4: 11-13
The children’s ministry (CM) is often the “playing field” of perspective. Those who operate their CM in borrowed facilities (movie theaters, schools, or other churches) would be very thankful to have modular trailers of their own in which to hold the CM. Those who use modular trailers to minister to children may desire an actual building where the CM can be held “under one roof.” We, as humans, always long for something more. This is not necessarily bad, but it does prevent us from a certain level of contentment. Comparing what God has given us to what others have is never healthy. This is not to say that we shouldn’t have goals and hopes, but we must be careful to not grumble.
Moses dealt with grumblers. In Exodus 16 and 17, the people of Israel grumbled about not having any meat, bread, or water. They made comments about “wishing we were back in Egypt.” Their grumbling continued through the book of Numbers. In Numbers 14:11, God lets Moses know how their grumbling hurts Him, “How long will this people treat Me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in Me, despite all the signs I have performed among them?” God threatens to kill them all! Moses pleads for God’s forgiveness, and God answers Moses’ prayer for forgiveness.
Surviving and flourishing in trailers is also a matter of perspective. There are definitely things that can be done to make up for the limitations of space, but the real “enemy” is a lack of contentment. The space inside each trailer is a set space. You can’t change the shape or square footage of the trailers. Adding cabinets to the trailers is good, but it also takes up precious floor space. The local fire department probably has given you an occupancy limit for each trailer. You shouldn’t abuse your relationship with the Fire Marshall by exceeding that limit.
Hopefully, you have considered growth when you laid out the arrangement of the trailers. If you can protect some space for additional trailers when they are needed, that is an excellent plan. If you are “land locked,” and you can’t add any more trailers, you face a significant challenge when the Lord blesses the ministry with more children.
Each classroom should have some limited storage inside. This can be storage for specific craft supplies, first aid supplies, curriculum supplies, and a few extra Bibles. These items can be stored in moveable cabinets on wheels to permit the CM team members to rearrange the room if needed. The trailers should also include tables and chairs to accommodate the number of children permitted in that trailer. Make sure that the tables and chairs are the correct size for the children in the room. To force sixth graders to sit in chairs for first graders is insulting. The children will complain to their parents, and this negatively affects the reputation of the CM. If the children are not comfortable, the entire family may go to another church.
There are things you can do to “balance” the limited space in the trailers. The most important thing is to create a supply room, and ask God to provide a supply room coordinator. The supply room coordinator will contact the CM team members each week to see what supplies they need. The supply room coordinator will then be present during the service to bring needed supplies to the rooms. This addition to the CM team will greatly enhance the team’s contentment in the middle of the “trailer phase” of your growth.
Another great thing to do to make the trailer phase more enjoyable is to make sure that there are creative, easy to read direction signs that direct the parents to their child’s classroom. Churches usually place trailers in a row or “block” configuration. This is a good way to use the space effectively, but it can be confusing for the parents who are looking for a specific classroom. Direction signs are essential, but CM guides with maps are a definite plus! The CM guides or greeters should be pleasant, smiling, positive team members who greet the parents and direct them to the right classroom.
Another excellent idea is to add some music to the outside of the trailer area. The speakers can be wireless and small. You only need some pleasant, instrumental background music. Disney does this in all their parks. Hidden speakers play pleasant music as visitors enjoy the park. The CM trailer area can be just like Disneyworld!
There are some basic principles of CM “trailer life” that should also be practiced. These principles are: 1) Make the exteriors of the trailers look professional (clean, painted, pretty, landscaped with plants). 2) Provide solid walkways (brick, cement, asphalt, or compacted gravel) around the trailers (no mud!). 3) Provide plenty of exterior floodlights around trailers (for safety and security). 4) Provide many large trashcans around trailer area. 5) Provide restrooms as near to the trailers as possible. 6) Provide air conditioning and heaters to each trailer. 7) Provide working battery lights in each trailer for power outages. 8) Provide two-way radios to CM greeters who remain in trailer area during the service. These radios can connect with security, maintenance, parking lot, ushers, and the CM office. 9) Provide drinking water inside each trailer. This can be a large water bottle on a stand, or smaller bottles on shelves. It is easy to “outsource” this requirement to a company like Sparklets who will replace the empty bottles with full bottles weekly. This convenience will come with a cost, though. 10) Provide a copy service for the CM team members who need more copies of something. They can connect with the copy person via phone or radio, and the copy coordinator will bring the copies to their trailer. 11) Provide weekly maintenance (cleaning, repairing) for each trailer. For more help with this and other needs, click on the “Developing The CM Facility – APPENDIX” link below.
Visit other articles in the “Developing The CM Facility APPENDIX“