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A theology of youth rooms and buildings

Theology of youth rooms and buildingsLast December I wrote a short rant about church consumerism, cliques, vision, youth rooms, attention spans and more. A discussion that followed that post on Facebook is worth sharing with you.

Item number 6 in that post mentions that I turned down someone’s vision to build a youth building or at least a youth room in our church because right now we have neither. The reason is because I think it’s more important that the teens become a natural integration into the church body and a youth room/building could unintentionally allow them to separate from the body too much. Plus, I don’t think it’s healthy for kids to feel like they belong in one room of the church building more than any other place else in the rest of the church, nor for adults to reinforce that notion by sending them to their “youth room.”

Here’s part of the discussion between me and a high school student (not from my church) on Facebook that followed my original post:

STUDENT: I don’t know if a youth room is such a bad thing. I would really, for me, enjoy that. You get to do stuff with your own age group and its like a spot where you can fit in. (Well, my whole church is like senior citizens, so I think a room for my church is sort of a good thing.)

ME: I’m not saying a youth room is bad, but I am saying it’s easier to do exactly what you mentioned — separate from the rest of the church (i.e. senior citizens).

STUDENT: Oh, I see your point. Well, I just kind of like it because I’m able to interact more with my age group more it seems that way. Like with other the other generations I get to do that in church and during coffe hour or whatever. But afterwards you are able to get togather and be with people with similar circumstances and problems. Isn’t it important to spend time with your peers spiruatally and with other generations too? I personally like to be with the older generations instead of my peers, but I like also being able to spend time with my peers also.

ME: Yup, there’s absolutely value in both. And like I said, there’s nothing wrong with having a youth room as long as relationships are continuing to be formed intergenerationally. It’s when the youth room becomes the hideout for the youth that the segregation starts.

Don’t get me wrong, the intentions for a youth room/building are usually pure. Like, “Let’s give the youth a place where they feel comfortable, a place where they can belong, feel like they fit in, a place they can make their own and have meaningful conversations about what they’re going through in life.”

I agree with all that and say, “Yes, let’s make the church a place where teens feel comfortable, a place where they can belong, fit in, can make their own and have meaningful conversations about what they’re going through in life rather than sticking them in a corner room somewhere, conveniently out of the way from the rest of the church.”

For me personally, I’d rather not have a youth room than have to fight against that “us” and “them” mindset between adults and teenagers in the church. Biblically, it’s supposed to be “we” and, for me, that’s easier if everyone is together without “our room” and “their room” (like, the church sanctuary is usually perceived as a room for the adults, ya know?).

Agree? Disagree? How does your ecclesiology impact how handle youth rooms and buildings? How do you balance the separation of teens from the rest of the church body? How do you avoid the problems that come from having youth group as a mini-church inside the larger church? Is this part of youth ministry’s contribution for why 20-somethings are missing from many churches? Can it sometimes become youth group vs “big church”? Share in the comments below.

UPDATE: Please don’t get defensive or feel like you need to justify to me why you have a youth room and how you use it. I promise I don’t think any less of you either way! lol


Posted on May 27, 2010

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/pjski pjski

    Good post Tim. This can be such a loaded question for many teens and youth pastors. I agree with your statement that the whole church should be a place they feel comfortable.

    We place a high expectation on teens that they are to be serving on Sunday mornings. We have our youth group on Sunday nights. And when we do, we do not have it in the 'Youth Room". We share a downstairs auditorium with the Children's ministry. They use it in the morning, and we use it at night.

    We do have a room that is teen oriented called the "Launch Pad". It has a four square court in the middle and a small stage that can be used for speaking and a tv for video games, but that's it. We had thought of making it into a teen cafe, or a teen lounge, but the truth is that it is one more room that can be used during the week for other groups and even when we have events that require the space for tables and chairs. If we add couches or booths it restricts what else we can do with it.

    This lets the teens know that it is available for them to use when we are doing teen specific ministry, but otherwise it belongs to the entire church for use. And they should have the same thinking when it comes to their own selves. They should feel as though they are different because they are teens, and we will have specific ministries set aside just for them. But as a whole they are also a part of "The Body". We desire for them to realize this now so that they take that understanding with them when they move on after graduation.

    Jason

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/timschmoyer Tim Schmoyer

      Yeah, we also use rooms in the church, of course, but none of them are the "youth rooms" because they're used by other groups all the time. There's really isn't much that differentiates one room from another. Like, no one walks into a room and thinks, "Oh, this is obviously where the high schoolers meet" or anything like that.

    • Randy Smith

      I truly believe it has nothing to do with a youth room. Lets quit blaming things and places. It is up to the youth leaders to integrate the youth into the church. Our youth are a integral part of our church. They lead worship and at time like this week give the message. If my students leave the church our church would have a huge hole in it.
      This takes time to build so if you are a 2 and through or using youth min as a stepping stone you will not succeed. The youth have to be taught as well as the adults of the church. Once again it takes time. I have served in youth ministry for over 16 years and I am serving my second church.
      I am watching students raise their children in our church. Yes the twenty's and thirty's. It can be done but it takes time and a lot of work.

  • Trazy

    We recently painted our youth room black and silver with some bright highlights, so the senior citizens have shied away from using it (they think it's too creepy, but it's really pretty cool looking!) – however, before this change, the youth room doubled as an adult sunday school room… which meant everyone had an invested interest in the room.

    it's really just a room with something other than white walls and a couple couches. and a white board painted onto the wall.

  • Troy Young

    I will put myself out there as a easy target for some debate, but this is where I stand to understand. I really believer that satin has got his hand in youth ministry. We try to do such a good job at youth ministry that we look nothing like the body of the church. (We are one body with many parts) And we wonder why students after high school want nothing to do with big church after they graduate. It is foreign to them, it is not the church that they know.
    We must assimilate student into the main body, the church, not the Disney, or the latest trend. We wonder why it in not working and why students are leaving, we must go back to what works and to a sure foundation, the Word of God and His church. You will say, "My student will leave", you are right, "yours" will leave because they love the youth pastor more than they do their God. Start sharing the message verse-by-verse and book by book and you will see spiritual grow. And you will see student that are passionately in love with their Savior.
    And don't forget the most influence-able person in their like, their parents. You the YP only get 1-2 hours a week to invest into your students, the parent live with them, Maybe we should start investing into parents? We go to camps, where is the parents? We have retreats, where are the parents? We go to conference, where is the parents? We as YP get to see life change in students life that the parents are missing out on. I don't wan to miss out on that in my child life. So, where is the parents?
    As I started out, satin has got his hand in youth ministry. Satin one goal is to destroy, separate, or divide the family, don't let him win in your church and family…….

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/timschmoyer Tim Schmoyer

      Glad you voiced where you stand, Troy, and I agree with you 100%, except for the "Satan has his hand in youth ministry" part. I don't think youth ministry is unbiblical, but I do think it could be a cultural response to the lack of spiritual leadership in the home and all the consequences that brings to society and teens. In our ministry, the youth leaders are mostly parents and even grandparents (they're the best!). When we do mission trips, it's open to the whole family and others in the church. It's not exclusive youth ministry nor is it about us doing youth ministry at all. Instead, it's about youth doing ministry, especially alongside of their families.

    • Tony Roos

      Troy,
      I agree with many things you have stated. However to make a blanket statement that "Satan has got his hand in youth ministry," is a bold one which I would argue against. I read the rest of your points and think he has good point we do need to intergrate students into the life of the church. But don't blame youth ministry for this as a whole. Churches want/wanted areas where students can be hidden except when on display for good behavior (read on youth sunday). So they created youth ministry and segreated it to a different style, area and focus.
      There are, however, many many churches and youth ministries that do not operate that way. Currently where I serve many students are involved in all areas of ministry. From leading worship, to teaching AWANA, Sunday School and setting up tables, teens view the church as their church.
      If we are going to rally against separating students and parents, how come no one ever complains when students are in Sunday school? Isn't that the same philosophy? Age appropriate teaching is needed and dare I say biblical.
      Yes we all need to pour more into parents and for that reminder I thank you.
      Tony Roos

  • stephen

    I believe that this argument is something people are hiding behind because we don't want to admit youth ministry is not measuring up in other aspects. Whether there is a specific youth room or not, kids aren't weak in there faith because of / or a lack of a designated room. Rooms are tools just like anything else and should never replace true, honest, life changing, personal interaction among believers of any age. The natural tendency after meeting in the same environment week in and week out is to have a sense of ownership. There is nothing wrong in that because in some ways that symbolizes a place of safety and security. I have kids from the community who have very broken homes and very often are not stable and consistent. Whether it be a youth room or not, a space is needed and appreciated that is safe, stable, and consistent. When someone enters a room they are comfortable with they tend to be more likely to be open and transparent. That which makes them comfortable often tends to involve likes and dislikes both culturally and generationally. If meeting a kids needs means taking a space and "making it theirs" then I think that is a little cost. The principles not always the practices need to be consistent within the church.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/timschmoyer Tim Schmoyer

      Exactly. Rooms and buildings are tools and how you use them makes a big difference. There's nothing inherently wrong with them.

      For me personally, it's a tool I don't feel I need. You could argue we have the same affect as a youth room because our high schoolers meet in homes instead.

      • stephen

        I am just frustrated lately hearing so much about how 'youth ministry' is failing and so much reasoning is based on weak insignificant issues. I am tired of the 'older' church body talking about the young people as the "future" of the church. When will people realize that they are the church now. What I have found interesting is that there is a growing number of youth pastors who are fighting to bring a deeper

        • http://intensedebate.com/people/timschmoyer Tim Schmoyer

          I don't think I heard anyone here say YM is failing because youth rooms. We're just merely exploring what youth rooms could be unintentionally communicating and the effects they could have that we haven't thought about before, that's all.

          • stephen

            Nobody here said that but it would seem there is more conversation in the general population about the failings of youth ministry and how it actually seems to be hurting students faith. I am just frustrated that youth ministry is being blamed without thoughtfully thinking through what is working and what is not.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=73101168 Brandon Rodgers

    Tim,

    I don't necessarily think a youth space is awful. Teens are given space to freely express what they wouldn't be allowed to in a large church-wide setting. Older people learn in a way that would not be conducive to allowing students to express themselves in worship. Our church has given the youth space to do that. All the while, we are committed to be good stewards of the space. As the YP, I don't think space makes the students not apart of the church as a whole. We don't do everything in that space. On Sundays, we have Sunday School in areas where other church members are meeting. So the church sees them. This argument or question could be raised for churches who have a traditional service and contemporary service, or better yet, multiple services of the same kind. To go as far to say that Satan is dividing our churches because of space, for me, would be a stretch. In my context, the people don't see our students as cute little kids that get stuffed in the upstairs of the gymnasium, but rather, they recognize the needs for students to have community and have an environment that they can freely express who God is to them. So that's how I view this.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/timschmoyer Tim Schmoyer

      Yeah, I don't think a youth space is awful either. Not at all. We certainly have rooms we meet in and some rooms we use more often than others. There's just not sense of ownership over them. We meet in various rooms depending on what's going on and what other rooms are already occupied by other groups.

  • gforster

    Its a tool. Tools can be used to construct or destruct. If you are allowing a room to be destructive in your ministry, I think there might be some deeper problems than a few walls.

  • branjohns

    I like my youth space (most of the time). It's the gym. We share it with everybody else. On Wednesdays we have a church wide meal'; then students roll out the stage (yep, it's on wheels) and set up. Other adults help out moving chairs and such. The meal allows students to engage with other adults and for the rest of the church to see what's happening in the student ministry. I like it because, although the student ministry uses the space most, it's not relegated just to students, but all church members use it.

    Now for the real question – I dont believe youth ministry should in any way be a separate entity of the church or act as a individual organism outside of the church. Students are the church. They are part of the universal church of all believers and of the local church they attend. We have for too long tried to make it a place that looks cool, sounds cool, is cool and not spend anywhere near the energy showing, teaching, and guiding students to learn about the church (and I'm not just talking polity here either). The context of the local church is to represent the bride (and body) of Christ – by serving others, sharing the good news with others, sacrificing for the good of others (wait, did that just come out sounding like way too much of a mission statement there?). We have to be careful not to let our actions state "Christ died for this youth ministry." Jesus gave his life for the church and if we aren't leading students to be an active part of the local body of believers, than we aren't doing our job.

    So yes, I have a youth space, and yes I love it. But no, I will not hide behind it and will work my best to help our students see our student ministry as a part of the organism and not a separate organization

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/timschmoyer Tim Schmoyer

      Awesome! Sounds like you guys have a great balance!

      • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/johns098 branjohns

        yeah, I wish it was alot better, but we're getting there

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/scullum2001 Steve

    I think that he hit the nail on the head when he said we need to be intentional about intergenerational stuff. If we use the youth room to separate, it has not served a good purpose. However, if it is a place where the teens have their classes or whatever, along with all the other kids classes, that's cool. You want to provide an environment where the teens feel comfortable and want to invite their friends. But if the students are ALWAYS hanging out there instead of integrating with the rest of the church, then that is when action needs to take place. Lock it up or something. Also, as Tim has stated, I think using those "youth rooms" for other purposes helps blur the lines too. We do not have a youth room now in our leased space, but we intend to have one in our future building. This will be used as a middle school class on Sunday morning, and a hangout during other times. However, I will probably do our large group times (everyone together) in another room. And we will have our small groups meet all over the church. And we will not have a separate youth worship time on Sunday morning, because we want them to be in the main service. Further, I want that place to be a cool hang out for all groups, especially college-age 20-somethings, which addresses your point too. Things like that, I believe, will keep that youth room from being a place of separation.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/timschmoyer Tim Schmoyer

      Yup, that's pretty much how we function, too. We use lots of rooms in the church, but none of them are ours. We use different rooms for different things and there's no sense of ownership over one space in the church more than any other space. We all share equally.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/johnbirkhead johnbirkhead

    As a church we recently went through a space allocation process and found ourselves grappling with many of these issues and more. In the end, we did designate space for different ministries to be the primary users. However, in the design of each space it was made clear that the space must be put together in a way that may focus on a specific ministry, but it can not make it exclusive to that ministry. In other words, it must be able to be used by other ministries as well.

    For our student ministry, we actually ended up being responsible for the renovation of an entire wing of the building. In the design, we made sure to not do the typical youth room design. We removed all of the old smelly couches and went to more sturdy and comfy single seating options. We also contacted a church member with a flair for interior design to help make our basement space more open and welcoming. Her help has transformed a dirty, dark basement into an open, airy, and even bright place.

    As part of this renovation we installed an integrated audio video system in the main student lounge which allows for our student worship and for meetings for groups of 50-75. In addition, in our break out rooms we put home theatre systems for sound and then either projectors or flat screens depending on the size of the room.

    The furnishings of each room are sturdy and usable for the primary use and can be set aside and stored if another group needs to use the space.

    Bottom line, by the Grace of God, we ended up with a space that is functional and flexible. In the end, we have adult groups asking to use this space as their first choice rather than as a last resort. And we our students have a place they are comfortable to invite their friends to. Not a bad deal! (but I am a little biased)

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/timschmoyer Tim Schmoyer

      That sounds like the body of Christ working together to me! :)

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/johnbirkhead johnbirkhead

        thanks – I can say it surprised the heck out of me. We have had our fair share of not acting like the Body!! It is really nice when we get our heads on straight!! :D

  • pray4urfabrics

    You're right Troy, satin has such a hold on youth ministry. In our local area last year we met and discussed different textiles and materials that we can integrate into ministry that would be more godly and not have satin in these areas. Chairs with cotton, or woven polyester might tend to mix things up a bit and could catch the attention of this younger generation to question why everything has to be satin. A couple of us even thought to start a business promoting 'ChristCotton' where we pray over different fabrics that make way into our churches. We hold magazine meetings and pray over things like the catalogs that we order the chairs out of, or sometimes make fieldtrips to local flooring stores to pray over the carpet. And lets not forget Walmart and other stores that sell fabrics, joining into a prayer circle in the middle of one of these stores, we invite the Holy Spirit into bless the threading. All of this will help keep satin our of our youth rooms, or churches as a whole.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/timschmoyer Tim Schmoyer

      ummm… okay. I'm smiling because I noticed the same thing. I thought it odd that someone who speaks so strongly about Satan doesn't even spell his name right, but it's not cool to make fun or belittle because of his misspelling. You know what he means.

  • George

    We have a great youth space, which essentially functions as a 2nd auditorium in the church; we are also still in the process of allowing the teens to decorate the room and increase their ownership of it. But on Sunday mornings, the room is dark and locked up. Why? Because as a church we believe we want our students with the rest of the church – and not isolated away in their own space. Granted, we don't do Sunday School or an equivalent on Sunday mornings, so it's easier for us to get away with this. But, despite several inquiries, we have intentionally decided not to have a separate "youth service" or the like on Sunday mornings.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/timschmoyer Tim Schmoyer

      I obviously agree with your intentionality of integrating students into the rest of the church, but do you feel that by intentionally giving students more ownership over one part of the building more than the rest somehow communicates that "This space is for you more than the other spaces in our church"? I'm not asking to be critical — I'm honestly just asking how that plays out for you guys.

      • George

        I think it's a tough call. Giving students a space to call their own certainly communicates that students are important to the church – important enough to have a not-insignificant piece of church 'real-estate' if you will. On the other hand, by doing so, you don't want to communicate something to the effect of, 'this is your part of the church, so stay here and please don't bother anybody else.' And, while our students definitely have priority in using that facility, the church does use that room for other purposes, given that it's the perfect size for smaller groups of people to meet. Honestly, I think churches often devote certain spaces to certain ministries or functions, and on the whole I think it's positive – whether children's classrooms for kids, a nursery for babies, a kitchen for cooking, a gym for recreation, etc.

        Ideally I suppose we hope to walk a fine line of giving students ownership in the student ministry with a particular space while at the same time giving students identity as members of the church as a whole, and not simply as 'the youth group.'

  • Ryan

    Currently our student ministry does not have our own space. Our church only has shared space for ministries to use. However, the space we use is decorated all week long for our Children's ministry. After many survey's and studies done we have found that the first judgement people make about church, at least in the north east, is due to the physical look of the inside of the church. So, when people come into our church and see only Children's ministry space they believe we care about young children, which we do. However with no student space or student area they do not have an automatic reaction thinking we care a lot about students. This is only the initial reaction. once they have been in our building for any period of time and been in a service they know we care a whole lot about students. Our goal for the future is to create a space that is for students during the week only, but is a multi-use space. we want to offer community classes, and church classes, and events in our student space so that when people from the community come in they can see that this church cares about students. we will also utilize the rest of our building for students during the week as well. this is all happening down the road though.

  • http://conversationsonthefringe.com Chris Schaffner

    Our youth ministry efforts consists of inviting kids to our "adult" bible studies. I have been a part of both experiences (youth separated and youth blended) but the spiritual growth and biblical literacy I'm seeing from the intergenerational bible studies is off the charts. I ashamedly admit I had low expectations of what I thought kids coupld handle, theologically speaking. Their able to hang with the bigs and the feedback we get from them about being with adults is that they actually CRAVE being with us. The crazy part is that we have so many adults who are now willing to get involved with the youth because they not only see the needs more clearly but they can also see what God is doing in the lives of our youth. It's not to say that the youth don't get together just to hang out with peers but it's more organic and doesn't require that we "program" that. The other cool thing is that the conversations we overhear when the kids are in peer groups is usually about what God is doing in their lives. I would likely never go back to having a separate meeting place for our youth. I've just seen firsthand the fruits of one body meeting together.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/timschmoyer Tim Schmoyer

      Dude, that is exactly what we're "discovering" in our church, too! Both children, teens, and adults all greatly benefit from having small group time together with other families and age groups. In fact, I doubt I'll ever do another "youth missions trip" again, but that's another post for another time. :)

      • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/conversationsonthefringe conversationsonthefringe

        I fear bragging but God get's the glory for this…

        Our community has two youth gatherings, and they are both open to the entire community. While they are sponsored by specific denominations they both welcome kids from other churches without any intent to "steal" the others kids. The youth pastors regularly speak at the other locations. They promote each others events and attend them as well. I really think a lot of this has a lot to do with intentional effort to build relationships across barriers. This is why the kids don't have any problems meeting with adults, it's been modeled by the adults already.

        When there is work to be done we, the entire body (i.e., kids, teens, young adults, adults, boomers, and seniors), all chip in and do their part. Whether mission trip, food pantry, bible study, worship, building a roof, sharing our faith, praying for our city, etc. it's a collaborative effort.

        When we meet for small group we meet with the teens as well on a weekly basis and constantly have toddlers and infants among our group. Once a month we gather families (including younger children and meet at the local park to play games, cookout, worship, and provide teaching aimed at the younger kids.

        There is this pervasive idea that we are all ministers to each other, regardless of age. If you have the Holy Spirit living in you then you are a ministry of the Gospel. Here's the crazy part…our church is growing like crazy because of this. We are not a church growth church. We are not "seeker-sensitive". We just love each other, love others, and seek truth. End of story.

        I really believe this would not ever have happened if we had just kept our kids in a separate room, in a separate ministry, serving only themselves while we served only ourselves.

        • http://www.cfbym.org Brenda Seefeldt

          This makes me so happy I have to respond too. I'm so glad so many youth pastors are finding "rooted success" in mixing intergenerationally. We are in year 9 and I would not go back. And year 9 is bringing the beginning glimpses of what I predict to be good fruit for these teens and now grown teens.

  • Jamie

    We built on a addition a few years ago and a good part of that addition was putting in a large youth room and a gym. The main reason was mission focused. We are across the street from a middle school and were hoping to begin a after school program. We now serve the community by opening up our space 4 days a week in a after school program that is a partnership with the school and several other non-profits.

    It is also over flow for our youth focused (not youth exclusive, but youth focused and it's driven by the youth)

    It's a great place for students!

    I do very much see and struggle with the cons of having a space designated for students. It does create division, all that is mentioned in the previous comments. I see it as the job of the leadership to come up with creative ways to overcome that.

    Part of overcoming that is getting adults to come down and hang out in that room….which is very difficult.

    It's a challenge to build those inter-generational relationships regardless if you have a youth room or not. We just made up prayer cards for every member in our congregation with students names on them so they can take it home and pray for them. It's a start…..

    but it's a difficult challenge to do it effectively…at least in my context.

    Thanks for the thoughts!!!!!

  • http://www.gotreallife.org Dave

    I am of the same opinion as those who see the room as a tool — not THE ministry, but A tool for ministry. We had a youth room when I came to my church 13 years ago. It was your typical youth room of that era — schlocky things painted on the walls, folding chairs, moldy couches, etc. NOBODY really wanted to be in that room (except to play pool, ping-pong, fooseball or air hockey).

    About 2 years ago we completed a building program here at my church, we put in a Life Center that is a multi-purpose gym (that we use a lot), but we also put in a Teen Center that is front and center when you walk into our new entrance. The Teen Center has a cafe in it that is open to the ENTIRE congregation — they are welcome to come in and grab some dinner and hang out with the Teens before and after services. We close the cafe during our teen worship service, that cuts down on non-teens in the teen worship service, but we welcome ANYONE who wants to join us.

    The room is an AWESOME room that gives priority to the teens, but it belongs to the ENTIRE congregation. There are many groups (adult Sunday School classes, Children's Ministry, private parties, etc) that use the room. All reservations for that room are funneled tome, checked against the student ministries calendar, then sent back to the Office Manager to get it on the master church calendar. Lots of groups want to use it – we have a projection system, sound system, tables and chairs that make for a nice informal gathering place, yet allows presentations and such to be done in there, too.

    We encourage our students to participate in ALL areas of the church, however, some aren't ready to serve in "big" church — we become the training ground and help get students' skills up to a level where they can move up and minister (particularly in regards to musicians).

    I can tell you this, too — because of the demand on our room, it has FORCED me to plan further out for the teens to guarantee that we can use "our" room! (Forced organization can be a very good thing!)

  • Kiersten

    Whoa…that conversation looks very familiar…….

  • Jamie Stolp

    Tim, this issue is a huge part of what is happening in my church. We work hard and being apart of the whole. We are blessed with being nomadic. It has re-shaped minds as students realize they are "members" of the church rather a "owner" of a room, in the building.

    I have had much backlash for not having a youth room or facility. Always from other youth pastor though, not students. I am told we could reach more students, maybe hundreds more. The youth pastors see the church vision of "reaching thousands for Christ" as justification for a facility. They seem to act as if I am foolish for not realizing that. But they are missing the point of how we (at my church) think. This article is how we think. The cool part is the evidence of tracking students after graduation. They are already apart of Celebrate, not a room, and so the "absence of 20 somethings" is not happening here!

    Tim, I am glad you proposed the questions about a youth room!

    Also I believe the youth can teach other how to value the building, chairs and bathrooms. They take care of it because they know it values all its members and guests!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/timschmoyer Tim Schmoyer

    Sounds like you guys are doing some awesome stuff there, Jamie! Keep it up!

  • dave

    i like youth rooms. I also like my kids to do things with the rest of the church. Recently our church had a prayer meeting and a time of eating together after. Our group was invited to come and enjoy a meal with the rest of the church. We were invited to the prayer meeting part but we were off site during that time. I also started to have people in the congregation come and share their testimony every month. Helps get to know people!
    I think when the room becomes the idol and focused on more than the Holy Spirit to draw people to God then that is a bad thing. I like that our church invested time and money into our kids- i like that, they like that. But when I hear we need this or we need that I remind people that the church in 3rd world countries people worship in bare overcrowded rooms and have no problem worshiping God. Why can't we?

  • Guest

    What about nursery room? Washroom? Storage room? Aren’t these just rooms that help us bridge the needs of a community?

    I’m not entirely sure that labelling a “youth” room goes against what Paul preaches in divisions of the church. If anything, having a “youth” room should coincide with how Paul is a Jew when he is with Jews, and how he is Greek when he is with other Greeks. Or how Jesus is able to say the right things to the right people. Shouldn’t we have the right equipment for the right people?

    • http://timschmoyer.com/ Tim Schmoyer

      It’s not the room itself that’s the problem — it’s how the room functions in the faith community and what it facilitates, both intentionally and unintentionally. Having the right equipment is absolutely necessary and a strategy of how we use the environment around us is just as important.

  • Andrew J Johnson

    I think it all boils down to whether youth ministry is encouraging students to be a part of the larger church community. To say that a room is responsible for youth not feeling comfortable in a larger church context seems like a scape goat for an ineffective youth pastor. Our youth room is a youth room, a multi-purpose room, a place for the chruch to host parties for other groups in the church, and a room to be used by anyone in the church. However, it definitely has characteristics of a room that is designed with youth in mind (the requisite ping pong and pool tables, etc). The thing is, though, we have our youth service BEFORE the main service and all of the students then join in worship, fellowship, and learning with the rest of the congregation. It’s a cultural thing. If you plan youth events that contradict times for churchwide services and events, surely that is going to hinder students from feeling like a part of the body, but I highly doubt the fact that a church has a youth room is the root of the problem when youth don’t assimilate with the rest of the church. I just don’t see why it matters if a youth group has a dedicated room or not? I guess we could play musical rooms each week and just pray that God leads them to the right room?

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