As I mentioned last week, one benefit of taking the summer off is that it gives leaders the time to invest in other things. One of the things I routinely invest in during the summer is our youth ministry’s space.
Roughly every other year, we hold a youth room makeover on a summer afternoon. Successful youth room makeovers include:
1. Cleaning. Let’s face it. By the end of the year, lots of life has been lived in your youth room, which has likely seen more than a few spills by that point. So spend the first part of your time together throwing out trash and deep cleaning your space.
2. Ridding the room of relics. Oftentimes, youth rooms become treasure troves of mementos that were deeply significant to the group… Twenty years ago. To keep your space fresh, intentionally purge relics from the room. Send teams of freshmen through seniors to canvas your space. If no one on a team can identify what a memento was from (or the story behind it), repurpose it or pitch it. Doing so then creates space for new mementos – treasures that will hold deep significance and memories for your current and even future students.
3. Rearranging furniture. During each youth room makeover, discuss your plans with your teens for the coming year as well as your projected growth and therefore, seating needs. Then, if possible, rearrange the furniture in order to make the room work for your new constraints. Doing so not only breathes new life into an old space, but it also teaches teens to expect (and not fear) other, more significant, changes in your youth ministry.
4. Painting. To be sure, youth rooms don’t need to be painted every other year. However, when the time is right, painting your space (or even a part of it) is an easy way to keep it from becoming dated.
5. Making custom artwork. Prior to each makeover, purchase white canvases in a variety of shapes and sizes along with paints and paintbrushes. Then, lay out the supplies and let students go to work. Give students permission to paint whatever they’d like: Abstract works with shapes and textures; Their favorite quotes or phrases; Humorous or serious pieces. Remind students that as people created in the image of God, they are creators. Challenge them to silence their inner critics and create something. Once done, hang students’ canvases in your space. Canvases brighten up your space, allow it to reflect the unique personality of your group, and are relatively inexpensive, something that allows you to frequently change out your wall art.
Take it from me: Taking a few hours over the summer to work with teens to give your youth room a makeover is time well-spent. Doing so gives new students ownership of your space. In the process, it also helps ensure your space stays warm and inviting.