Why can’t our youth ministry environments be fun places to be?
This past week I was talking with a parent in my community, and she said that her daughter was looking forward to our Jr.Youth Ministry starting back up. It’s the thing she thinks about every Thursday. That caught me off guard. She is thinking about it every Thursday! I am thankful for my team of leaders and coworkers who are passionate about making the youth ministry the best it can be, and apart of that is creating an exciting and fun environment for students to walk in to.
When I was in Bible College we never learned about how to make things fun or exciting. We learned how to help students learn and grow in a Bible Study or learn about their spiritual gifts. Those were great things, but the first thing a student is going do when they step into your space is decided if it’s a place where they want to learn about spiritual things. Is this going to be a place where I am open and honest with my thoughts and feelings? Is it safe? Is it fun? These are questions that students are constantly asking when they show up.
We routinely have parents show up to drop their kids off and immediately explain how they wished they had a ministry like this when they were growing up. That is the cue to invite them to a weekend service. I want students to show up and be amazed at how different our ministry is.
Here are a few things that we do to create an atmosphere of fun in my youth ministry.
Have fun music playing
There are tons of playlists on spotify out there. My go to playlist is from dj promote (link). It’s fun, and there are tons of secular songs that students will know. The best part is that it’s clean. This is the starting point.
When students show up, the first thing they are going to be aware of is the music. Make sure it’s great.
Make it look good
We use a shared space so we use banners. Using banners to define your space is cheap and easy to set up. Roll them out and change a space in a matter of 15 minutes. We have been using the slogan welcome or welcome home as a way to connect with students.
Again, we want students to feel connected and welcomed the minute they step through the doors. We don’t want them to see our old church building, but we want students to see a space that was designed for them, and made for them.
Have leaders mingling
Leaders set the ton of any ministry. Instead of having them organize or plan games, get them hanging out before the night begins. They are your guest services. If there is a new student who shows up, we connect that student with their small group leader right away.
We also have all the leaders enter into the sanctuary early to high five and welcome all the students as they come into the youth ministry space. Our students mingle in the lobby for 15 minutes before the night begins.
Have an attractional element
A few years ago we scaled back our monthly events to do attractional things on a youth night. One thing that surprised us was that we had more students than ever. Some of our highest attended nights in the past few years were on a regular youth night.
We do attractional elements like a huge sundae, cereal party after or before the night (basically just eat any cereal you want), make your own caramel apple bar, and cotton candy. These are ways for students to get connected to other students or leaders. They are simple, and students have loved these additions to our youth night.
Make it fun!
What are you waiting for? Make your youth ministry environment the best it can be. Make it fun. Create a space where students can’t believe they are inside of a church. You have an opportunity to reach students in your community. One of the simplest ways to reach students is by creating a fun atmosphere where they want to be apart of, and will invite friends to.