The Gorilla Blog

A Different Kind of Main Street Theme

Today, one of the more popular themes for children’s church areas is the “Main Street” theme. This flexible theme converts a plain, ordinary church hallway into a design that calls to mind a classic, small town Main Street, complete with store fronts, street lights and 3-D signage. The model of this theme, of course, is the Main Street, USA at Disney theme parks. It’s a salute to hometown Americana with it’s retro decor and design with shops such as candy stores, ice cream shops, barber shops, arcades, police and fire stations. You can see several examples of Imagination Atmospheres‘ Main Street designs in our gallery but in this article I’d like to focus on a different kind of Main Street design and one that works quite well in a children’s ministry church environment. This is a “Biblical Main Street” or “Old Jerusalem Town Square,” complete with Biblical-style storefronts, merchants and vendors.

Jerusalem Temple Main Street Stage Design

A worship room stage has become a Jerusalem temple in this Biblical themed environment.

Types of Biblical Main Street Themed Environments

Imagination Atmospheres has created several Biblical Main Street themed environments and we’ve discovered they generally fall into three main design categories:

  • Realistic Design
  • Storybook/Cartoon Design
  • Modern Design with Biblical References

Let’s take a quick look at the different categories.

Realistic Design

A Realistic Design would be one that fabricates an authentic Biblical environment. This type of design is rare in children’s ministries and is usually created for theme parks, stage or film sets. The purpose of this type of theming is to capture the realism of a Biblical landscape. architecture and experience. A professional theatre company producing a Passion play, for example, would have need for this type of environment and would request Imagination Atmospheres to build a village, room or set with the most authentic detail. Creating this type of detail would involve many artists and would require a larger budget and timeline but the end result would be an atmosphere of stunning realism.

Storybook/Cartoon Design

The Storybook/Cartoon Design uses the Realistic Design as a model but creates a visual environment closer to the illustrations in a child’s storybook. Architecture, murals and other details have a more stylized or cartoon feel to them. This design is the most effective for children’s rooms in churches. Depending on the needs of the particular children’s ministry, the design can range from the more realistic look to an extreme, stylized, cartoon version. This allows for a fun, humorous environment that also serves as a teaching tool. Many of the Main Street designs created by Imagination Atmospheres have a Disney or Looney Tunes feel. This allows the environment to appeal to kids and adults alike. Because Imagination Atmospheres custom designs all of their themed environments, your particular theme could be created to focus on preschool, elementary school, middle school or even high school kids.

Often, the Biblical Main Street themed environments reflect the standard Main Street environment in that they also feature “store fronts” and “vendor shops” along the themed street or square. These can feature the humorous as well. Some of the “store fronts” we’ve created in the past are:

  • Delilah’s Barber Shop
  • Joseph’s Carpentry Shop
  • Paul’s Travel Agency
  • Mary & Martha’s Bed and Breakfast
  • Goliath’s Big and Tall
  • Noah’s Pet Shop
  • David’s Music Shop
  • Elijah’s Chariots
  • Matthew’s Tax Service
  • Dr. Luke’s Office
  • Samson’s Gym

The options are limited to your imagination and it’s a great opportunity to completely customize your own themed space.

Cartoon Biblical Main Street

A cartoon Biblical Main Street brings humor and teaching opportunities to kids.

Modern Design With Biblical References

This design isn’t really a “Biblical Land” environment, however, we put it here because it is a modern Main Street theme with Biblical references. This is also currently a popular choice for children’s church areas. The distinguishing characteristic of this theme is that it looks like a contemporary Main Street theme but the store fronts and vendors (and frequently street signs as well) have names that evoke Bible characters and stories. The shop names are usually the same as the ones in the Storybook/Cartoon Design mentioned above, while still incorporating a contemporary design. This gives a humorous level to the atmosphere which kids always appreciate and teachers can utilize for stimulating questions and teaching points. In this type of themed environment, you get the best of both worlds while still being very customizable and personal.

I should mention briefly that it is possible to do the opposite to this design, where you have a Biblical environment with modern references. This is also a great way to incorporate humor. For instance, “Delilah’s Barber Shop” may have murals featuring contemporary barber tools and furnishings in her ancient store front. Often the Storybook/Cartoon Design utilizes this technique to some extent anyway so it is indeed possible to have a theme incorporating all of the different Biblical Main Street design elements.

Childrens Ministry Bible Village

Biblical Main Street store front options are limited only by your imagination.

The Main Street themed environment is a popular design for children’s worship areas today. The added dimension of Biblical style and elements make it a fun and unique way to bring your teaching curriculum to life while giving your kids a fun atmosphere they will want to come back to on a regular basis.

You can start designing and customizing your children’s ministry space today by contacting Imagination Atmospheres for a free consultation.

Heading into 2017

It’s been an interesting 2016 and as we move into 2017 we want to wish everyone a Happy New Year and say thanks for supporting us and allowing us to create some fabulous themed environments for you! We’re getting ready to start planning new themes for 2017. Maybe we will be designing for you this coming year?

We plan on using our blog more often in the coming year.  Our first big article will be pricing for murals and themed environments since that is always an area of concern and we constantly get questions about it. We’ll be letting you know how we come up with pricing, how you can plan a theming budget and how we will work with the budget you have available. Check back soon for that article.

Stay safe out there! Happy 2017!

Main Street With Garage, Park And Train Station

This theme was large enough to cover several areas including nursery, sign-in area, hallways and a worship room. The Main Street theme served as the anchor concept for the other themed areas: a City Park for the nursery, a Train Station sign-in area and a worship room themed as an antique garage. The Main Street themed hallway included individual “shops” such as a pet store, florist, bike shop, barber shop and cafe as well as a Police Station and Fire Department.

Airbrushed murals, wood cutouts, 3-D sculpted pieces and actual found objects included for authenticity. The theme featured two large sculpted trees, 2 marquees, several 3-D signs and a full-scale gas station area.

This custom-designed theme covers a sign-in area and entrance, nursery, hallways and a worship room.

$60K – $75K

Prop Sculpting

For those who enjoy seeing “behind the scene” glimpses, here’s a sneak preview of how we create some of our props and themed sculptures.

We were very fortunate to have contributions from two of Atlanta’s top prop makers, Matt Ward and Jennifer “Ferf” Smither. Prop making is a very specialized art form and it is often difficult to find talent to create the sculptures we utilize in our themed environments. Matt and Ferf had the perfect mix of professionalism and creativity to pull it off.

Matt Ward Sculpts a tree for Imagination Atmospheres.

Master prop maker, Matt Ward, sculpts a tree for Imagination Atmospheres.

Matt sculpted two full-sized trees in foam using traditional foam sculpting tools such as chain saws, hot knives and raspers. Not the easiest job to do in the blistering Atlanta summer sun. Ferf created stone columns and walls in foam using wire brushes, sand paper and hot knives.

Ferf Sculpts a tree for Imagination Atmospheres.

Master prop maker, Ferf, sculpts a tree for Imagination Atmospheres.

Both artists did a superb job as you might imagine and we’ll be posting the finished pieces here soon. A big thank you from Imagination Atmospheres for their tireless work and a shout out to Ted Morrow at All About Props for the use of sculpting space.


Building A Main Street Theme

Building a Main Street ThemeWe are currently in the workshop, deep into a project build for the children’s ministry of Goodlettsville Pentecostal Church in Goodlettsville, Tennessee. This project incorporates a Welcome and Sign-in Area, a Nursery Lobby and Nursery, a long Hallway leading to children’s classrooms and a large Children’s Worship Room. Each area has a unique theme ranging from a Train Station to a City Park to a Downtown Main Street village.

One of the challenges in theming large kids’ spaces is designing unique themed areas that bring a “WOW Factor” to smaller areas, yet still work in harmony with the overall theme design. If we design a kids’ City Park in the same space as a City Garage, both themes need to feel like they belong to the same themed environment. This is accomplished by using sculpture, architecture, murals and artwork of similar styles, colors and design. We wouldn’t want to put a cartoon Train Station in a realistic Main Street environment or paint realistic animal murals for a cartoon zoo.

This is one of our favorite types of projects. It gives us an opportunity to create 3-D environments, cartoon murals, lots of fun Main Street shops and even a couple of large sculpted trees for the City Park theme. It’s one of those themes that has it all and that’s always a fun time for artists. We’ll be sure to post photos of the completed project here and on our Facebook Page, so come back for the big reveal!

Downtown Main Street Theme

Mississippi Boulevard Baptist Church, Memphis, TN

This abstract and cartoon main street mural features some specific Memphis icons such as BBQ and the City Zoo. While all of the walls areas are completely covered with murals, the lack of 3-D sculptures keeps the space open and serves as a colorful and creative passageway to the children’s classrooms. Muraled wood panels add a touch of 3-D for maximum visual effect and “wow factor.” A themed environment that provides saturation of art, yet simple design for a creative and open space. This environment is very flexible and can work for almost any space from kids church hallways to daycare and schools and with design alterations it can work with practically any age group.

Airbrushed, hand-painted murals and wood cutouts.

This custom-designed theme covers two sides of a wide hallway and included theming of existing sign-in desk.

$20K – $30K

Church Unleashed

We had a great team of artists come along with us to Church Unleashed in Commack, New York to build their “Ultra Kids” themed environment. Brent Hooper managed the onsite project and all installations, Chattanooga-based mural artist, Seven, created the spray paint murals in the classrooms and hallway and artist Anier Fernandez painted the onsite silhouette murals, signs and 3-D props. 3-D sculptures and onsite airbrushed murals were created by Rick Baldwin.

Church Unleashed Lead Pastor, Todd Bishop and his staff welcomed us into their new space on Long Island, New York for six days. During this period, Imagination Atmospheres themed several areas for the “Ultra Kids” – a sign-in area with a 3-D roller coaster cart, a worship room with 360° murals depicting a fair and arcade, a Noah’s Ark classroom and hallway, an Eve’s garden classroom and hallway, a Moses classroom and hallway and a hallway mural featuring “God’s Great Galaxy.”

Despite a a long cramped van ride to New York and a wind storm which knocked out our power for over 24 hours, the IA team rose to the occasion and in the end created a wonderful and creative environment for the kids at Church Unleashed. A big thanks to Pastors Todd and Mary Bishop for inviting us up and trusting us with their theming project.