We asked Paul O’Bradovic to give us some insight into how he approached decorating a youth room. Prior to becoming a WOL Youth Ministry Coach, Paul was a youth pastor for 14 years, and he consistently created an incredible space for his students.
1. Start with the right mindset.
Where your student ministry meets, what that space looks like, and how it is decorated is an important part of youth ministry, but not the most important part. Yes, the environment of the youth room sends a message to everyone who attends, but the message from the Word of God should be of greater importance than the environment. So, make sure to have the right mindset about your space.
Two attitudes to avoid:
- “It’s just the teens, hand-me-downs will be fine.”
- “We have to compete with Disney.”
When the word “just” is attached to the youth ministry, it sends the message that youth ministry is not important enough for an investment. When the focus is on entertainment, the purpose of the church is lost.
Remember, the youth room is the “main auditorium” for the youth ministry. Treat it with the same attention and care that you would treat the main auditorium.
2. Evaluate your needs and plan accordingly.
Before beginning any decoration or design, evaluate both the needs of the ministry and the budget of the ministry. It is great to get ideas from others, but just because the youth ministry across town has a pool table doesn’t mean that you have to have one. Make a list of what you need to run your ministry effectively. Some of those things can be purchased with the money in the budget. Maybe you will have to wait to buy some of them later. Maybe someone in your church will make a special investment into the student ministry each year. Work with your lead pastor to make sure the church family knows the needs of the student ministry. When accepting donations to the youth ministry, however, be sure to avoid the two attitudes listed under point number one.
3. Make your space appealing.
The old saying, “You never have a second chance to make a first impression.” rings true for churches and student ministries alike. So, using the resources that you have, make your space appealing to students. Remove the clutter. Remove things that are broken. Remove offensive smells. Be sure the room is clean. Be sure the room is well lit. Be sure the room is decorated.
One of the best ways to begin is to have someone who has never seen your youth room to walk through it with you and point out all of the flaws. Just have that person point out the harsh truth then make the changes needed. When you begin decorating, be sure to collaborate with others. Remember, it should be appealing for students, not for adults. Allowing the students to participate in the process will create “buy-in” from them.
4. Glorify God in all you do.
If Jesus attended your youth ministry this week, would He be embarrassed with your lack of attention, failure to declutter, and nonchalant attitude toward the room? Would He be disappointed that the focus of the room was on entertainment more than the mission of the church? No matter how many resources you have or how limited your resources are for creating a space for your students, create a space that glorifies God.
For users of the Word of Life Fifty1 curriculum, every module has décor and promo ideas to help you make your youth room an awesome place to be. Check out a free module of Fifty1 here.
For more research:
Stanley, Andy. Deep and Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend. Zondervan 2012.
Jackson Galloway https://bit.ly/decoryouthroom
Paul O’Bradovic was a youth pastor for fourteen years before becoming a Youth Ministry Coach with Word of Life. Along with serving local churches in the area of youth and children’s ministry, Paul also oversees Word of Life’s Youth Ministry Internship and curriculum development for Word of Life Olympians and Fifty1 Student Ministry. He and his wife Tati have two awesome girls and live in Schroon Lake, NY.