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Weigh In: Volume 19 – To Build or Not to Build

 —  April 10, 2012 — 8 Comments

We had a letter come in from a youth worker asking about building a youth room. Not every Youth Ministry has a dedicated youth space, like mine for example where we share common space with the Church, and Josh, well lets not go there! :)  It would be great to hear what your perspective is on this question:

We are in the process of a transition and conversations are beginning about building a dedicated youth space. But is it worth the investment? Do we build it for the group we have or one much bigger? Are there negative aspects to having a dedicated student space that I have not thought of? 

What do you think? Lets help this youth worker out, share your experiences, good or bad with building a dedicated youth room.


Geoff Stewart


8 responses to Weigh In: Volume 19 – To Build or Not to Build

  1. I believe that if you have the resources to build, building a dedicated space for youth is never a bad idea. But you probably already realize some will still see it as shared space, and that’s ok. We are looking at this possibility as well right now. DEFINITELY build for more than you have. Once your space(whatever it is) reaches about 75% capacity, some kids will begin to be turned-off by how crowded things have become, so build for growth! The major negative that may come up is a dedicated space furthers the disconnect between older generations and the youth, but there are many ways to combat that disconnect. Most important, bathe the whole process in prayer. God will lead and God will provide.

  2. @Kraig – great comment and agreed, all of my experiences so far in ministry have been with shared spaces – even our “student building” is really a community center.


  3. I would agree with building a space larger than what the current need is but with the flexibility and capability to control the set up. We have found that students enjoy a space that is full of students. If you make it too big there is the temptation of cliques happening. If you can control the space by shrinking down the teaching area, or simply the overall set up you create the feel that this is the place to belong, and encourages interaction amongst students who normally would not get together. Plan with a space for the students and allow that space to be used by others, but intended for the students first. A personal space allows students to have a place, but still allows for others to take advantage of the facility.

  4. My wheels are turning right now as well. Our church is going through a vision process and looking at potentially buying some space for our youth ministry. While we are thinking about this space we are talking about how big it should be, and what resources we should place in it.

    As for space I am thinking it should be bigger than you need in the moment, but it should be able to be broken down to feel more intimate when you need to. Be it dividers or making seating space.

  5. We built a dedicated youth center about 6 years ago and it has made a huge difference to our youth ministry. If you are hoping to grow then I would encourage you to talk to some large church youth ministers that have a dedicated space. If I could go back now, I would change so much.
    Things I wish we would have thought of – Higher ceilings, bigger stage in the worship space, etc. A lot of it depends on the DNA of your youth ministry. I encourage you to reach out to others who have been down this road before a plan is ever drawn up.

  6. Here is a follow up Question – What are the must have, non-negotiable parts of your youth space?

  7. Hey Geoff, stu here. I know I don’t really have a professional opinion or anything, but hopefully from the eyes of one of your previous youth kids, I can tell you a few things that I personally would have/would be looking for in a youth space. The first being very simple: Space to roam around a little bit, but a place to get comfortable. The best example I could say is “home.” Make it feel like that’s home. EG: You could have a few couches, some coffee tables, and maybe a kitchen that people can actually cook in. The reason I say this, is because this helps extend your reach with kids without stretching the church too thin. A question to you is, what are your wishes for the kids once they are out of high school? I know a lot of them move away, but the ones that say go to Trinity Western or other nearby colleges/universities could use the space as a place to relax, study, and enjoy an engaging social atmosphere with other Christian friends. Maybe even consider a washer/dryer? I know it sounds a little out there, but the kids that start living on their own, even free washer/dryer is a miracle. I don’t know the size of the building that would be planned, but it would be a great add-on.

    On a not so university note, I would say for everyone that goes, to have kind of a slightly raised stage area, where you could do talent shows/bands can play, and the integrated music system that you could possibly put in would allow you to also very easily be able to plug in an iPod/MP3 player to play through the entire room. This way kids may feel like they get their “party” energy out at church, so they are less likely to do it elsewhere, unsupervised. Again, just things to think about. I added these comments about the sound system, stage, and whatnot, because I’m assuming if you can build a new building, the church may also have money to spend on this sort of stuff as well.

    In closing, (sorry for the long message) I would say the ESSENTIAL parts of the youth space are:
    1. Stage/sound system
    2. comfortable atmosphere (this includes couches, coffee tables, and if going with a young-adult part as well, a kitchen)
    3. conditional upon if you like the young adult center idea – washer/dryer.

    I’d like to point out a few last benefits of the young adult part: If you can get more youth leaders from your youth kids (as they grow up), your youth leaders will be able to be a lot more dedicated to the space, and the kids, in my opinion, if they don’t have to worry about going home, then studying, making food, and doing laundry. This again allows you to expand your youth size because with more youth leaders, you wouldn’t be stretching thin.

    Sorry for the long message, but some food for thought.

    God bless ya,


  8. LOVE the washer/dryer idea! We’re in the midst of a building project (and our first “real” youth room- wahoo!) and these are some great tips. We also have a lot of college students, and I’m adding the washer/dryer to my “pie in the sky” budget list :)

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