Your church congregation has become the lifeblood of your community and you’ve worked hard to ensure that the spaces in your church are conducive to the different needs of a varied population. The ministry team has figured out the adult spaces and the children’s rooms, but you’ve been pondering how to pull together an area for the church’s teens. The youth in your church are vital to its continued growth so creating a contemporary and relevant space for them to congregate is crucial for long lasting fellowship and attendance. For teens, a sense of comfort and belonging is essential in every aspect of their lives and you’re certain that creating a space just for them is the key to providing this.
There are so many ideas out there for youth ministry spaces. Some of these are for churches with really big budgets and some for churches with more modest financial means. Your team isn’t really quite sure where to start, though. You’ve at least designated the room that will house the youth ministry, and you’ve even decided to incorporate a small cafe.
But where do you even begin? Here are some great tips to help you wrangle this seemingly overwhelming project and get started toward building a thriving youth ministry for your church community.
Clean It Up
The very first thing your team needs to do is to clear out the room. If it has been a storage room for a few years, you’ll need to do a really deep clean. Clutter is a disaster and will only repel the very kids that you want to attract. This is an important idea to keep in mind throughout the entire renovation process.
Pull out any furniture and decor that might be useful for the project, but don’t keep anything too outdated or dirty. It’s just not worth the hassle or the eye sore to put effort into rehabilitating items that don't really fit.
Ask the Youth
Take the time to reach out to the families in your congregation. Ask the teens what they’re interested in and especially what kinds of public spaces they really enjoy. If you get some great leads, go visit the places they recommend to get a feel for the spaces that inspire them. It will help you wrap your mind around trending interior design for youth, especially if it’s been awhile since you were in your teens.
Plan the Ministry
This would be a great time to also plan some strategic meetings with your team to figure out how you want to structure the new or upgraded ministry. After you’ve got some great ideas and outlines, invite the kids in to get their input.
Come up with a name for the group together and maybe even a logo. Some loose branding for the group will really help when making design plans. Getting the youth involved will also help them to become invested in the process and therefore more devoted to the group. A win all around!
Draw Up the Plans
Before renovating or purchasing anything, sit down together and draw everything out. You don’t need to be a designer to do this step, as it can just be a rough sketch. Just get something down on paper to guide the process and keep everyone on track. If you can afford a professional consultant to come in and give advice, great. But if you’re on a serious budget, just do the best you can.
Really think about how you want the youth to use the space and also try to envision how they will want to use the room. Try to incorporate both your plans and their wants. Will it be multi-functional or do you have a large enough room to designate specific areas for different activities? What kinds of activities do the youth currently enjoy and how do you plan to expand? It’s important to think about how they will use the space immediately and in the future, as the space will hopefully accommodate growth.
Tackle the Structure
Once you’ve got your place and you’ve cleared out the room, it’s time to work on the bare bones. If the carpet or flooring is dirty, out of date, or just plain ugly, it should be replaced. There are plenty of affordable options that will make the space feel clean and modern.
Next, look at the ceiling. If it’s covered in ceiling tiles, you’ll need to consider how to make it feel less sterile and more cozy. Paint the tiles a darker color to give the room a coffeehouse feel - though be warned that painted tiles will have less acoustically appealing effects (if that’s important to you).
Check out the lights and determine how they make the room feel. If they’re fluorescent and you don’t have the budget to replace them, consider adding lamps and other lighting elements to make the room feel more ambient.
Plan to put a new coat of paint on the walls to freshen everything up. If you’ve got a good branding theme planned out, you can integrate that into the paint colors. But if you’re not really sure, stick with neutral colors that will enliven the place without becoming outdated too soon.
Put Together the Areas
If you’re planning to create a stage complete with sound, lights, and visual technology, you’ll need to figure this out first. Some ministries will have enough space to make this a separate room and others will need to blend it into the communal “hang out” zone. Figure out which will work for you and then sort out your budget. This area can suck up a lot of the budget, so it’s important to plan before moving on to other areas.
Often, you can tap into the resources of your congregation to get furniture. Many members will have couches, floor lamps, and other items that are in great shape and that they would be thrilled to pass on. If that’s not the case with your church, you can also try to raise money for furniture through collecting items from members for a rummage sale or a similar event. Reach out and ask, and you might find many willing members who want to help make the project a reality.
For new furniture, choose wisely. It needs to be flexible in the space, multi-functional, as well as youth-friendly. It also needs to be extra comfortable to make sure they use the space for hanging out with their friends. Church chairs are a great idea for these spaces. They can be moved around easily, they’re super durable, they look modern and appealing, and they’re comfortable. Good quality folding chairs can also be an asset for a youth ministry room, depending on your needs and storage availability.
If you’re planning for a cafe, then modern restaurant chairs and tables are a must. You probably won’t need too many of them, but just enough to give that fun, hip coffeehouse vibe that kids love.
This is the part of the process that is really individual. Your youth ministry has its own group dynamic and goals, so you’ll need to figure out the collective “personality” of the group to make sure you do this right. You can incorporate some of your basic branding efforts here by painting the logo and group name on the wall in a fun, trendy style.
When it comes to decorations, think minimal. Cluttered looks never work well, but they especially don’t work in youth spaces. Keep the focus on activities and group bonding, providing the spaces for playing games, sitting around to chat, and more serious group discussions. It should feel comfortable and focused on bonding.
Here are a few fun ideas to bring into the space, especially for those with a smaller budget.
- Hang a few strings of white holiday lights around the room, above the stage, or in the cafe area. It will especially offset fluorescent lights.
- Paint a whole wall with chalkboard paint and offer plenty of chalk. Use it for group discussions, projects, or encourage youth to leave messages of empowerment for each other.
- Hang long wires across a wall and use clothespins to hang up printed photos of the youth ministry group. This will really make the room feel like it’s theirs.
- Head out to IKEA or a similar store and pick up funky floor lamps and hanging lamps. For a small amount of cash, you can bring a fun, modern vibe to the room and a lot of warmth, too.
- Find one or two short, meaningful quotes that you think will speak to youth and paint them huge on the wall. It will serve as an empowering reminder that they are in a safe, welcoming space.
- Use old pallets to create fun, rustic industrial-themed counters, wall covers, backdrops, and other elements. This is a very low cost way to give a youthful vibe to the room.
Youth are often without a “home” in churches, as they’re too old for the children’s room and not yet ready to fully hang out with the adults yet. Creating a youth ministry room is an important task, ensuring that the next generation feels welcome, needed, and understood in the congregation. While it is a big undertaking to create a youth room that addresses the mission of the church and also the needs of the kids themselves, with enough support from the congregation and the community it can be done. The end result is a lively space full of connected youth who lift each other up, and above all, feel like they belong.
When you’re ready for quality, modern, and flexible furniture for your youth ministry room, Classroom Essentials Online is there to guide you through the process of choosing and ordering. We understand your unique needs and are happy to work with you to find the perfect selection of furnishings for your space. You can find us online at classroomessentialsonline.com or by calling (866) 404-7671.