Above is a picture of our brand new fire pit. Instead of buying one “off the shelf” at Lowe’s, we went all in. We dedicated 1/3 of our back yard to a large (5′ diameter) fire pit with room for a dozen people to encircle. The idea was simple: We live in a small house with very little extra space for conversation, so let’s create an outdoor “great room” of sorts.
Last night, our teenage son and 8 of his friends broke it in. They hung out around the fire pit for a couple hours talking, laughing and burning things. Somehow, the fire pit created an atmosphere that made them way more open to conversation….with each other and with my son’s dorky middle-aged parents.
It got me thinking about junior high ministry, and the environments we create (or fail to create) to help foster conversations. The obvious answer is to to grab the old faded plaid couch in the corner of your youth room, move it to the center and torch the sucker! Trust me, that would get your kids talking! And it will get you fired. So the second best idea is to simply ask yourself, “How might we create ‘fire pit’ environments in our junior high ministry that would create more natural opportunities for conversations?”
To get you started, here are some thoughts about creating “fire pit environments” in your ministry:
- A warm, friendly feel.
- conversations are welcome, but not forced….they flow naturally.
- laughter is a value.
- Physical comfort. So don’t burn the old faded plaid couch, find MORE of them.
- Create a sense of relaxation…unhurried feeling.
- An environment where everybody’s voice matters.
As you head into Summer, it’s the perfect time to build a fire pit atmosphere in your junior high ministry!