Is Your Youth Room Working Against You?

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Your youth room should help you share the story of Jesus, not distract from it.

There are basically two ways to help students focus on The Message.

1. Create more engaging content.

2. Eliminate distractions.

We spend plenty of time trying to write better content.

But we don’t always pay attention the second part…

…and some of our chaotic youth rooms are starting to reflect that.

Your youth room should help you share the story of Jesus, not distract from it.

I have seen some pretty epic youth rooms in my day, but the coolest-looking one featured an old school disco ball, replete with dozens of tiny mirrors.

It gave the room a futuristic look, and it was cool to watch the lights bounce around the room during the energetic worship set.

Trouble was, the lights didn’t stop bouncing around the room.

That silly mirror ball was hanging right below a vent, and so a continuous flow of air kept it moving…

…during prayer, during teaching, and during breakout groups.

Fill a room with enough distractions, and it won’t   matter how compelling your message is.

Worse yet was the room that overlooked the neighborhood park. There was no air conditioning, so in the summer, they left the windows open.

That meant that instead of listening to the message, you listened to everyone playing basketball on the playground…

…and they sounded like they were having a lot more fun than you.

The good news about most distractions is that they’re actually pretty easy to fix if you’re aware of them.

Be on the lookout for these most common distractions in your youth room.

The three most common distractions are…

Noise from the furnace or air conditioner.

If you’re doing ministry in an older building – and most of us are – this is a very real problem.

You might be loud enough to teach to the whole room, but once the furnace kicks on, the kids in the back cannot hear you.

Fix this by turning the thermostat OFF during your programming time.

If you have to, run the temperature a little high or low before you begin so that the room stays in a comfortable range longer.

Doors opening and closing.

This is especially a problem in a darkened worship space. You work so hard to create a calm and intimate environment…

…but it’s ruined as soon as someone steps out to go to the bathroom and lets in a stream of white light.

Worse than that, everyone is now aware when anyone has to go potty, and you bet they’ll snicker about that.

If doors squeak or slam, WD-40 and a few strips of noise foam can fix that.

If light is a problem, choose one door to be the primary exit and hang a thick curtain on the other side.

A great big mess.

I don’t want to sound like your mom, but in this case, it definitely pays to keep your room cleaned up.

Students might not care that there’s something sticky over here and a pile of trash over there, but it will definitely steal their attention.

If you’ve got random things lying around, and they’re not there to help you share the Gospel…

…they’re only going to get in the way.

Take an hour this week to pick up your mess and tell me if you don’t feel better about things this weekend.

I want you to help all of us become more effective teachers.

So tell me, what other distractions have you conquered lately?  

Aaron Helman Aaron Helman is on a mission to help end the epidemic of youth worker burnout. He writes at Smarter Youth Ministry to help youth workers with their biggest frustrations – things like leading volunteers, managing money, and communicating effectively. He is also the youth minister at Firehouse Youth Ministries in South Bend, Indiana.

More from Aaron Helman or visit Aaron at http://www.smarterym.com/

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  • Christi

    Instead of having a big spread of snacks laid out for each meeting I decided to make a snack closet full of single serving packaged items such as chips, and Little Debbie snacks. If students want a snack during hang out time (the 15 minutes before bible study) they can get in the cabinet, help themselves, and clean up after themselves by throwing away their package when they are done. The best part is, students would see this spread of food and get up and walk around during the bible study to get a snack or seconds, now by the time our lesson starts it’s out of sight out of mind. Also instead of getting a parent to bring a snack each week, I get a different parent to fill the cabinet each month.

    • http://www.smarterym.com/ Aaron Helman

      This is a really, really good idea, Christi! Simple, practical, and super-easy! Thanks!