During the summer of 1999, Mike and Craig started talking about the benefits of collecting fun and effective Sunday school ideas and making them available to others in a neat little package, such as a book. At that time, they had a few ideas of their own, but were mostly concerned with organizing ideas found from other sources. As Sunday school teachers themselves, they were familiar with ideas that failed compared to those that captivated the kids and truly helped them to learn about Jesus. However, after a few meetings they decided to drop the idea, partly because of the hassles they would face with copyright permissions, but also with the expected production costs. Still, they believed there was truly a need for quality Sunday school material that kids would enjoy and teachers would find easy to use.
A few months later, a new idea came to mind. “We could created a web site, and put our ideas out on the Internet to share with others free of charge. That way, we could add new ideas as fast or as slow as we came up with them and the cost would be minimal.”
They both agreed that would be the way to go. Mike had some experience with web sites, so he would get things started. They committed themselves to prayer and weekly meetings to discuss the web site, how it should look, function, who would do what, and so on.
A New Web Site is out on the World Wide Web:
Around the end of February 2000, a new web site was out on the Internet. Using free space from America Online, “Children’s Church and Sunday School Place” was born. A home page with several options brought visitors to a few object talks, crafts, and activities. With little experience, they kept the site as simple as possible, so the casual user, including Mike and Craig could easily navigate the pages.
To their amazement, but continually giving credit to God, ideas came quickly. The site grew in size from just a few ideas to a quite a number of pages containing useful information that soon needed to be categorized and grouped by topic. Almost immediately, emails started to pour in from individuals saying how they appreciated the web site and found the materials very useful. This encouraged Mike and Craig to add even more ideas.
During the early stages of web development, Mike used Microsoft FrontPage ® and other graphic programs to create web pages, while Craig used a web design program called Web easy ®. However as they added more and more pages, several concerns began to surface. First, the free space from AOL would soon run out, and they would need a new web hosting company. Second, it was now time to obtain a domain name. Third, in order to achieve design consistency throughout the web site, using the same web-publishing program would be better.
A Name is Chosen:
During July 2000, and after much debating, Mike, Craig, and Len reached agreement on the domain name of kidssundayschool.com. In addition, the name of the web site was changed to “Kids Sunday School Place.” They purchased additional web programs, and moved the web pages to “Interland Web Hosting.”
With the added cost of a domain name, web hosting charges, and the amount of time it was now taking to maintain the web site, they decided a free will offering for using the site would be helpful. Without wanting to charge for the materials, because after all they belonged to God, they added a page to the Kids Sunday School Place web site to give visitors the opportunity to send a free will offering to help defray costs. The e-mails kept pouring in sharing how helpful and fun the materials were, and how appreciated they were. However, they received only one small donation during the next six months.
Memberships are Added:
The emails did not quite match the donations. As development and hosting costs continued to rise, Sunday school teachers all over the United States and even the world were saying they truly wanted to have more quality material. Working full time jobs already, both Mike and Craig wondered how they could continue to devote more and more time and expense to a web site. “Would God be glorified if the web site was for profit?” After considerable discussion and prayer, they decided new items added to the site would be available for a small membership fee, and marked with a red dot. That way, visitors would still have access to a significant amount of free material, but for a very small fee, members could have even more.
To prepare for this change, they filed for a fictitious name, obtained a Post Office box and a checking account. Finally, towards the end of January 2001, they added about seven items with a red dot and gave visitors an option to become a member of Kids Sunday School Place for a small fee. The first checks for membership came in about three days later.
During 2001, memberships continue to come steadily. Then in December, they added an electronic payment option called PayPal®. The hobby quickly changed into a business, with memberships almost tripling overnight. After much prayer, the next major decision was to incorporate, knowing that a strong commitment would be required. They accepted it as being the Will of God.
A New Company is Born:
A new company was born on January 1, 2002, named Kids Sunday School Place, Incorporated. The website now receives thousands of visitors each day from the United States and many countries around the world, and is hosted on a dedicated server.
The vision of KSSP is to reach children of all ages the world over with the good news of Jesus by equipping Sunday school teachers and helpers with meaningful and fun materials. Their motto is, Make it Count! Make it Fun!
Since January 2002, the KSSP staff has added hundreds of new ideas and complete lesson plans, including a full section devoted especially for preschool age children. In 2004, they launched a new web design to improve navigation and page readability. Because outreach is a primary mission, efforts to translate all pages into Spanish began in 2006, and is now current with new material added each month.
To God be the Glory:
Everyone here at Kids Sunday School Place truly praises God each day for the wonderful opportunity to serve Him in this way to reach children around the world for Jesus. We also sincerely thank each and every visitor for all of your payers and support given to help make Kids Sunday School Place such a success.