Before I was youth minister I was a case manager at a clinic in Baltimore City. Â I loved the work, and people I interacted with on a daily basis. Â I did not like the office in which I worked. Â My office was not very large and fit two people, I had an old desk chair that wiggled and wobbled. Â There was no light from the outside world and the air conditioning came on in the winter, while the heat came on in the summer. Â This made it difficult to focus and concentrate.
If you aren’t aware of the environments in which you run your ministry you’ll find that your teens will struggle to engage in what you are communicating. Â Easily overlooked, your environments are the context in which the story of Christ is delivered. Â To create irresistible and engaging environments you need to understand how to optimize these four components:
- Lighting:Â This sets the mood and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Â If you have a stage (Or performance area) it’s best to consult with experts on what works best. Â For the room itself you need to answer to know how much natural versus room light you want. Â Light can hide distractions and it can enhance focus. Â Feel free to experiment with different types of light, to get the best mood.
- Temperature:Â If it’s too hot teens will be drowsy, too cold and they’ll be distracted. Â This seems like a simple component; however, it can easily be overlooked. Â If it’s out of your control talk to your maintenance guy.
- Sound:Â Like lighting you don’t have to bust the budget to have good sound. Â Make sure that any outside sound is eliminated, ask people to be considerate and invest in a decent sound system. Â While a microphone might not seem necessary to speak to a group of 15 teens, it will lower the strain on your voice and allow teens to easily listen to your words.
- Set-up: This component covers the furniture people sit on, the decor of the room and where you set up presenters (i.e. band). Â Are you going for a coffee house feel, basement hangout or do you want to mimic the atmosphere of adult worship? Make the room look neat, make sure everything is in good condition and ask yourself, “What theme am I presenting?”Â If you want to know what engages your audience, look at the places they like to hang out.
Your environments are meant to engage and draw your audience into a closer relationship with Christ. Â Make it a part of your weekly schedule to review what is working and what is not. Â Bring in your team, ask your student leaders and gain their insight on how the room should feel.
What is your biggest challenge to creating an engaging environment?
Chris Wesley (@chrisrwesley)