If you don’t think room design matters in whether people come back to a place or not, you’ve never been to Dave and Busters, Disney World or The Metropolitan Museum of Art. All of these venues are intentional about design and what kind of experience you have.
Room design doesn’t mean expensive light shows and smoke machines. Room design means colors and spaces that are comfortable, eye catching and engaging.
One of the elements of room deign I focused on was pictures. Pictures told a story about our youth ministry. I had a section of the room for camp photos, a section of the room for missions photos and section for anytime photos.
I even had a wall of fame for epic photos of students doing something crazy or a meeting moment where God showed up big.
These photo’s intrigued our visitor and gave our members a reason to explain to visitors what was going on in the photos. Members would always show pictures of themselves. They saw themselves as part of the community and the guest they brought wanted to be a part of that community.
You can check out my many room videos on Youtube where I show my room evolving or where I show off what other youth groups are doing.
A youth group room in an affluent neighborhood on the West Coast will differ from a middle class neighborhood on the midwest, and they should. Each youth room needs it’s own cultural identity.
In the 90’s, many youth groups were trying to make their youth rooms look like the mall because that’s where teens were hanging out. Youth rooms started to look generic and uncreative. A youth room should reflect your city and the stye of your students.
The space your students meet in every week, matters. It matters in their worship, in their small group time and in there general hanging out. A room smartly designed will get students to hangout longer and that means more relationship building time.
Sure, you need money for when kids put a hole in your drywall, but putting room design into your budget allows you to update your room when your room calls for it.
How much should you budget? Start with $500 a year. This amount allows you to pick up that cool sign from Hobby Lobby or, and better still, allows you to hit up your local thrift stores to find some inexpensive treasures.
Tip: Don’t take junk from church people. A room full of junk, torn couches and scratched up tables are not welcoming.
You don’t have to break the budget on a renovation, a few simple changes will add some value to your room.
Doodle Board– You could paint a section of wall with black board paint and let students draw there.
Prayer Wall – Have a marker board or sticky note are for students to post their prayer requests.
Change the seating – If you’re in rows, start meeting around tables with a leer at each table.
Paint – Take the time to patch holes and put a fresh coat of paint on the walls. Choose colors that won’t freak people out.
Signs – Guests need to know where the restrooms are, etc.
Vision – Does your youth ministry have vision? Have a sign made that expresses what your youth ministry is all about.
Small changes like these will make your guest more relaxed and let them know you want to be do ministry with excellence.
Think Five Senses
Smell, Taste, Touch, Sight, Sounds. How can you engage all of these senses in your room?
Smell – I know how most youth rooms smell, like ax spray and sweat. You can pick scent that’s too strong, but you can make the room smell clean. Burn a candle or use plug in fresheners.
Taste – In these series, I’ve already talked about food, but taste can be a snack pre-service, some kind of meal post service or just randomly throwing out candy during a game.
Touch – At the time of this article, we are in a pandemic so touching is bad, but when it’s over, make sure, sometime during the service, you have students greet each other with positive touch, This can happen at the beginning of service where students greet each other or at the end where you gather them in a circle for prayer.
Sight- Some of these are covered in the simple changes section above, but consider colors and what you want to communicate to your guests.
Sounds – I always had a up beat play list going as students entered the room. Silence is cold and unwelcoming to a teenager.
Why do we need all this? Won’t love bring kids back even if our room is a wreck? Yes, love can bring students back, but why not make your youth room all it can be? Why not communicate how much you love your students with surroundings that says, “We want you here!”