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Making a Great
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Sunday School Lessons

-Creating a Great Youth Center/Youth Room-

Kids Need a Place of Their Own

Great Bible lessons and fun games are essential to discipleship but a boring youth room can really hinder your youth ministry. Here are some basic tips to providing a comfortable atmosphere for spiritual growth:

Make a separate youth room or youth group building if you can. Kids need a place they can call their own that has age-related furnishings and activities. They need to know that you, the adult, protect their space and defend their right of possession. Article on "Youth Room Ownership"

Use lots of color. Paint the walls many different colors. "Color can affect a person in a positive, neutral or negative manner." Edward Tufte . Stark white...well, you might as well just jab their souls with a fork. Make one wall the guest book. Supply markers so they can sign their names and create artwork.

Comfortable furnishings: Old sofas, bean bag chairs, stereo, TV, and games. Make the youth room look Bad Youth roommore like their bedroom than a class room. A stage for music and skit performances is fun. Refrigerator, microwave oven, and kitchen cabinets are a must for snacks. A table and some chairs always come in handy. Keep a supply of jackets and sweatshirts, blankets, and pillows. Get some posters and lots of enlarged pictures of the kids. I also like stringing Christmas lights just for fun.

Games and activities: Make your youth room inviting by providing many activities choices. Ping-pong and foosball are perennial favorites. I also make sure there is a big TV with a video game that has four controllers (Note: Strictly monitor and games you allow to be played). An assortment of costumes and wigs is great for role playing or skits. Stock the cabinets with colored construction paper, markers, and of course duct tape. Each time they come in let them play for a set amount of time. This not only takes the heat off you to come up with games for every meeting, it lets them congregate in the groups they are most comfortable in with an activity that relaxes them. This is unscheduled downtime now understood as one of the best things we can do for kids in our fast-paced over scheduled culture. Work into the lesson time when they're ready.

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new youth room take shapeThe Youth Garage begins to take shape:

A big screen TV, X-box, drum set, foosball table and a couple of couches...it's coming along. Still a lot of white though (we'll fix that). When asked what color the carpet should be we said, "The color of coke, pizza, and powdered donuts". Good choice guys. More pictures to come as we progress towards a great youth room.

Now we've added bongo drums, lots of large throw pillows, two stuffed chairs, refrigerator full of drinks, kitchen table and chairs, and another big TV with a PS2 and an old Saga Genesis. Just got an air hockey table. Sweet.

youth garage snack facilitiesyouth group room

Kids are comfortable in a relaxed atmosphere where it's OK to put your feet on the furniture. Snacks are always available: chips and dip; popcorn; cake; ice cream; and soda for the evening meetings. Cereal and milk; donuts; orange juice for Sunday mornings. I served those iced frapacinos a couple of times but parents came up after the service and asked what I had done to their kids so I trimmed the caffeine (but kept the sugar).

youth couchesLook at these great couches, bean bags, and giant throw pillows. The kids love knowing that this is their place.

We've added kitchen cabinets and a stage. This is really taking shape.

Finally a ping pong table (always a favorite), an X-Box with DDR (see source below), and a Wii video game. We just bought this and an up-to-date DVD player from our budget. Now the kids have plenty of activities and we have all the equipment set up to be able to use video clips or movies as intro's to lessons.

 


 

 

 

 

 

During the day I am a Home Theater Installer. My company is
Kevin's Connections.

 

 

dance dance revolution game photo
I've never seen anything as popular as the Dance Dance Revolution video game.
The kids love it. We hitched it up to a
donated big screen TV via an X-box. They play it all the time.

Choose video games carefully. Most video game stores offer some very harmful games along with the good games. It's up to you to make wise choices for your youth. Read my blog on the
dangers of violent video games.

 

Bean Bag Chairs

Comfy, easy to store, and fun to sit in.

If you do nothing else -get rid of the straight back chairs. Do anything you can to make your youth room less like a school class room and more like a living room or club house.

Yes, I call it Sunday School but it really shouldn't be anything like school. Get in a circle, join the kids on the couches or floor. Talk to them like adults, with respect. They'll respond.

 
Get Crowded :  Duffy Robbins reports, in Group Magazine, volume 38, that there is substantial evidence "that crowding teenagers together into a slightly too-small room makes them more open to persuasion than the same number of kids sitting in a larger room would be.

What we learned:youth

Power: If you are building a separate youth building plan for lots of electrical power. Heaters, band amplifiers, microwave ovens, lighting, etc. really suck down the juice. 200 amp service is not unreasonable.

Heat: If you live in an area that needs heat think about the most efficient way to heat the area fast. Baseboard heaters are easy but take a long time to bring a cold building up to temp. It can cost hundreds of dollars a month to keep a youth facility heated all of the time. A heater like the one shown hear can heat a large space very fast, just for meeting times. They take a lot of power to run but are less expensive because you only heat when you need it.

Paint:  Have the kids and some adults help paint the youth center. Expect that the kids will do a poor job, get paint all over themselves, and get distracted after about  fifteen minutes. You will probably end up painting much of the youth garage by yourself. That's just the way it goes. The kids involvement will give them some "ownership" even if it looks bad. One wall was The Guest Book.

Colors:  The local hardware store donated the paint. It turned out to be the colors of the rival high school football team. No wonder they were giving it away. Note: White is not a color (just sayin).

Lighting: For some reason builders and pastors like fluorescent lighting. I strung ten strands of white Christmas lights across the area. It created a really nice lighting effect. We used the fluorescent when needed. Do Not use halogen floor standing lamps. They can start a fire in seconds of tipped over.

Doors and windows: Make sure the windows have blinds or curtains so would be thieves can't see in. Our building codes also required the doors to have a window whenever kids were inside with an adult. One youth garage had actually been a garage but mice could get past the garage door so we had to replace it with a wall.

Bathroom facilities: An onsite bathroom and running water is nice but might change the building code requirements and taxes. Check with your local authorities before you build. Our youth garage was close enough to the church so the kids could just run over there.

Furniture: Do not advertise in the bulletin for used couches. You'll end up with twenty of them dumped in the parking lot and have to drag them to the dump. Quietly ask around. Someone will know of ones available. Then you can go check em out and offer to pick up just the ones you can use.

Do you have to have an awesome youth facility?

Creating an awesome youth center or youth group building like the one suggested here is not a do-or-die thing for a successful youth ministry but it really makes it more enjoyable for everyone. My current church meets in our towns community building. My Sunday school class is held in the lobby. The Sunday school lessons are awesome but my options for games and activities is severely hampered. Group building is difficult. Our youth group attendees come from three towns about twenty miles apart. The parents are hard pressed to fit a mid-week church activity into their schedules especially when it means driving thirty minutes one way. So, our mid-week youth activity is more like a small group in each town. These small groups, made up of the kids in that town, meet in a parents home. The study material is the same for all of the groups. It takes a lot more effort on the leaders parts but the goals can still be reached.

We are in "the building phase." Once the church building is complete our youth will have a little better situation. I haven't told them yet but they'll be building a "youth garage" as soon as we're done with the building. Lets just keep that between us.

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