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Editor's Note:
This discussion began many years ago, and unfortunately still seems pertinent today. As you will read, "Getting Permission" to do some painting is difficult in some churches. What you will also read is how some creative educators have not only come up with creative workarounds, but have come up with ways to bring "permission givers" onboard.

The "Workshop" descriptions and design ideas here at have a lot of "classroom décor workarounds" for churches where permission is difficult, walls are off-limits, or where space is shared.

My teachers and I think Rotation means (gasp!) colorful inviting space for kids!!  So when our church recently expanded, we wanted to paint our new classrooms with colors and murals. The problem is that an "Interior Design Committee" was formed to make decisions about this new space -- which INCLUDED our new Sunday School rooms, were very concerned that this new space blend with the old space (i.e. white walls, white doors, white...) No one on this committee had children in Sunday School, though some are supportive of the program.

So we're stuck with white walls, and the need to "ask permission" for anything we want to put on the walls, ...paint, decor, posters, you name it. 

Any suggestions??

Last edited by Neil MacQueen
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Pray, pray, then pray some more .. that the Spirit would speak to the committee and their hearts would be open to receive it. Then show them the photos on this website! Print photos out if they don't have access. We were thinking of printing out the photos on overhead transparencies to present at meetings. If possible, take them to a nearby church who is doing rotation. We were blessed in that not one person opposed our plans, and I KNOW that was God's doings, not ours!

It's amazing how often churches complain about their Facility and "interior design" committees being the bane of CE. Problem is, we also want people to LEAD and take their responsibilities seriously -- and there's the rub. Some are naturally protective, and perhaps have been "burned" in other churches or past experiences in yours where someone did a horrible job of decorating (it happens!).  Some old-timers have lived through the youth group painting their own room and getting paint everywhere, you know?

And sometimes, people are afraid of your mess blowing back on THEM. Been there with that too!

In one church where I volunteered as a pastor in the pew and Sunday School leader, we were told we couldn't attach anything to the walls in one classroom. No real good reason other than they were just used to not doing much in the way of creative décor, and didn't want "holes in the wall." 

We wanted permission for an Oasis and Nile river mural and were shot down. After the anger passed, we took a step back and then sideways to accomplish our design in a different way. Solution: We took them LITERALLY. We constructed an "Egyptian" looking wall out of boxes that stood "against" the wall, but not connected to it. We brought in a bunch of five foot ficus trees and taped a bunch of paper palm trees agains the wall. For a pyramid we covered a wood frame with canvas drop cloth. Everyone loved it, and frankly, it was BETTER THAN PAINTING.

Funny thing is, now they are onboard with whatever we want to do, including painting, long as they didn't have to do it or pay for it

God works in mysterious ways.

Last edited by Neil MacQueen
Our "pretty committee" is a sub-committee of the Trustees (who usually say "no" regardless of the request). I had everything mapped out in a handout which I distributed a week befor the meeting. I had detailed plans for each room, estimated cost, who would do the work, etc. I gave personal tours of the rooms, and, as was suggested, I asked for ideas. They didn't have many suggestions, but I didn't have any problems getting our plans approved.

When I get frustrated at the Trustees and "Pretty Committee" I have my own personal awards event (no one knows about it). I give out "The Golden Calf Awards" to those individuals or groups who idolize the building, and then I lift them up in prayer.

Our "Pretty Committee" was not too pleased with our idea of painting murals on the walls of the rooms. So we decided to get them "used to the idea" by starting at the point of least resistance. We started in the nursery where NOBODY thinks "bland" is okay.

Got me thinking that a nice mural of Jesus being followed by children would look great in the hallway. Who could possibly object to that? We discussed the paint materials and plan to "protect" the surrounding area, ceiling, floors.

I would also suggest introducing color in other ways than by paint. 

  • Colorful cloth (either hung in along a wall or creatively draped/framed)
  • Colorful posters
  • Colorful table cloths
  • Colored light bulbs in clamp lights (looks cool and can double as drama lighting)
  • Murals painted on cloth stretched on a simple wood frame (like a theater backdrop). 
  • Canvas drop cloths painted to look like Bible scenes/village/desert and hung from hooks.
Last edited by Neil MacQueen

What!! you want to paint the walls???! We just gave them a coat of nice white! Lol

What we have done to help the vision of our Sunday School rooms is put a lot of things on Bed sheets.

We share our space so everything has to come down. I have small tacks to hang it to the wall. or I can even use funtac at times. I have also used clothes pin hang from the ceiling.

I know that always having to get permission for a committee that meets once a month or only when they need to is hard, but I’ve learned to plan ahead. I have them come tour on Sunday morning to see what the children are doing and what is happening. I also have been talking to the owner of the preschool to see if we can team up and say this is what we both we need.

Last edited by Neil MacQueen

Thanks for all the suggestions and support. It felt good to vent; now I should clarify.

We have 4 rooms that are workshops, all of them are downstairs.

In three rooms we went ahead and painted after numerous, unsuccessful attempts to meet with the ID Committee.

The fall out: Half of them liked what we had done, the other half were livid, one woman in particular.

Fortunately, our pastor was supportive and liked what we had done. I am looking forward to doing some more work this summer in each room and will need to consult with this group. I respect their determination to maintain a traditional look for our church, but when it comes to the kids' space, somethings can't be "traditional."

Last edited by Neil MacQueen

Some old-timers have seen previous “creative best intentions” ruin walls, get paint on the wrong places, and look like hell when finished.  

Discuss how you plan to take care in painting and do something worthy of the rooms they have been entrusted to take care of.

Do smaller projects to gain more than their trust, do them to gain their involvement in ministering to the kids! Help them become part of the vision by inviting them to help/supervise and CELEBRATE  at the unveiling.

Speaking of “vision”... Some words from Daniel 10:7-19

"I, Daniel, was the only one who saw the vision; the men with me did not see it, but such terror overwhelmed them that they fled and hid themselves. So I was left alone, gazing at this great vision; I had no strength left, my face turned deathly pale and I was helpless. Then I heard him speaking ... He said, 'Daniel, you who are highly esteemed, consider carefully the words I am about to speak to you ... Do not be afraid ... Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them ...' I said, 'I am overcome with anguish because of the vision, my Lord, and I am helpless ... my strength is gone ...' Again he touched me and gave me strength. 'Do not be afraid ... Peace! Be strong now; be strong.'"

Last edited by Neil MacQueen
Some reactions:

Some property committees have women??? Wow!

Tack strips--close to the ceiling, or at children's eye level--are a good way to hang temporary stuff without hurting the wall. The strips are permanently attached cork board type stuff about 1/2 to 1" wide, pretty unobtrusive.

I count myself blessed that the CE chair is married to our property chair--it simplifies some things.

I also count myself blessed to be in an old church that used to have a larger congregation--we have a surplus of rooms. The easiest ones to get permission for total renovations have been the ones up behind the balcony (the hs and ms youth got those--the adults don't like climbing the stairs anyway) and the rooms that had become storage closets over time--when no one has opened the doors for years there is less investment in preserving what used to be.

I once helped develop a child care program and one of the facilities we visited with really cool digs was located in a historic downtown building with WPA murals on the walls. The space the kids got was two stories on the first floor, but don't touch the walls. The daycare built a two story house with all kinds of nooks and crannies (didn't need a roof) and a fenced in "yard", right in the middle of the murals. Sometimes the obstacles can push us to the most exciting places.

Peggy Sorensen
Broad St CC
Columbus, Ohio

When I'm at wits end, I think it helps me more to read everyone else's problems than to even vent about my own. lol

People were shocked when I laughed last Sunday-- I checked the art room setup to see if we'd need extra supplies for class- I had already cut several sets of yarn and streamers for windsocks-- only to find the Sexton had "cleaned-up." 

The Superintendent in my church has been "in charge" a long time (which is part of the problem), so you can imagine how difficult it has been trying to make some changes. (Why is it that people who "cling" to power also gravitate to positions of it? This is why we need term limits in church positions.) They didn't want anything in our white hallways. When we got permission to have a "tack strip" we used it to hang all sorts of décor from big and small, long and colorful.

Thanks for all the creative decorating ideas in the thread,smile


Last edited by Neil MacQueen

I don't even want to get started about painting the walls. Our Sunday School board was all for putting murals on the walls. We were getting ideas together to bring to the Church Board, but we were shot down before it ever got to them.

The Buildings and Properties Committee had found a willing person to paint all the walls in the educational unit an eggshell color. Including painting over a nice mural that had been up for twenty years. 

We now have egg shell colored walls throughout the building. Nothing is "supposed" to be connected to our newly painted walls. WHY?  Who would decorate their HOME like this? It makes no sense, but I think they are afraid of what will get put up without permission, or attached the wrong way. They offered to put tack strips up near the ceiling, but two months later, they're still not there.

They also took down the screen we had made in the theater and didn't bother to use new sticky tape when they put it back up. So of course it fell. (I suppose I should be happy they attempted to put it back up.) I went in the room to prepare for my lesson and found the screen lying across the table that they had put in there. I decided I would go home and get my tape and return in the morning. But when I returned they had THROWN THE SCREEN AWAY!!! It cost me another $20 for the materials to replace the screen and $5 for the border.

And people think it's the children that have caused the handfuls of hair to be missing from my head!!!!!

Last edited by Neil MacQueen
I hear alot about painting walls here. Have any of you thought about making murals on painters paper drop cloths (backed with thin plastic and cheap at Home Depot)or covering the entire room in plastic table cloth (comes in lg rolls for about 15.00) and then attach these to the ceiling. I use banker clips if you have a drop ceiling. There is also a type of drapery hook thing that can go on a rope hung across a large space to create smaller space. None of this has any permanent effect on the physical space, all are reusable resources and create very dramatic effects at very low cost. Just FYI for those trying to transform space to creatively convey the transforming message of Christ to children. JeanC

Good to hear it's going better for you! smile

We've just formed a new committee for expansion, and I made sure to be one of the first volunteers. smile I was pleasantly surprised at our first meeting when one guy (newer member, no children in SS, he doesnt' even come to SS) announced that he felt our #1 priority should be providing more and larger SS rooms! Yeah!! So far the whole committee agrees-- and I am in 7th heaven smile While brainstorming for needs, I made sure to add in "free reign with decorations inside SS rooms." And no one even blinked! LOL

Oxford, GA

Last edited by Luanne Payne
Well if I could only do one room entirely, I would do my room with a tent. Tents are harder to put up week after week. Your walls could be where you see your tent. Some people make their blue with sponge clouds, others make it desert, ours is set in rock mountains with blue sky above. I've even seen some that have more of a worship tent set inside stone walls.

The other rooms can be "transformed" through props, furniture arraingement and backdrops hung on walls.


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