Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Youth Room Environments

We've been doing some serious remodeling for the past 9 months on our youth room at The Well. It's finally coming together!

Environments communicate. The lighting, the paint job, the seating arrangements, even the little aesthetics like pictures and lamps--the environment communicates who you are and what you're about. Our student ministries leadership team asked the question, "what does our environment communicate to a young person coming to our group for the first time?" Sadly, our pre-makeover perception brought words to mind like "cheesy" and "mediocre." We wanted to change that perception, so--with a little inspiration from a fire marshall inspection--we started to make the transition. It wasn't easy at first; many students weren't too stoked about the changes. But we felt it would be better in the end.

We went from bleachers to couches for seating; Christian clip-art stencils to black-and-white photos of our students on the walls; "Grover blue" and hospital white paint to a trendy neon green and black-brown; secondhand ping-pong table to Nintendo Wii; stained blue carpet to painted concrete and rugs. It feels like a totally different room! Wish I had some before and after shots, but you'll just have to do with the "afters" above.

Our shift in our environment has led to a shift in our community. Instead of sitting in isolation on the bleachers, our students gather in conversation at couches and cafe tables. Instead of one or two students playing ping-pong, the Wii creates a crowd laughing and playing together. It's been subtle, but I can definitely tell a difference in the atmosphere of a Sunday morning or Wednesday night.

What do you think? What does your environment--your home, your office, your youth room, etc.--communicate about who you are or what you're about?