Many churches are finding they have few, if any, youth in their church, and a lot of unused space, even on Sunday mornings. They don’t want to do extensive renovations but are willing to consider some changes to reach out to youth. If you find yourself in this situation, we are willing to work with you to explore creative options.
Here are four key factors we need to consider:
How much space do you have, and how much of it are you willing to make available for youth center activities? Having small to medium size rooms can provide opportunities in addition to obstacles. Our generic youth center design focuses on open space and the multiple uses of space. Classrooms provide the option of having more designated spaces. For example, some of the activities that take place in a large multi-purpose room can be designated for certain rooms: A game room, homework room, café lounge, etc. You will need to be flexible and prioritize.
An important component of a Rock Solid Teen Center is a Sports Activity room. It’s the one room in the building in which the kids can participate in action sports or movement activities. In every other place in the building, they need to be well-behaved and restrict their physical activity, but if there is no such room in your church facility that can be adapted, we will need to come up with a plan “B.”
The advantage of our generic teen center design is that there are no blind spaces and every room is monitored by video cameras except the restrooms. In addition, we have one central entrance. All other doors have alarms on them. Your church needs to answer the question, “Do we feel comfortable having security cameras in the building?” We highly recommend them, not only to monitor youth but to provide protection against false accusations against adults (In this day and age, it happens). If you do not want security cameras in your building, you will need to increase the ratio of adults to youth significantly.
The second major concern related to security is blind spots. Teens are good at determining places where they are not easily monitored by cameras or adults. We need to minimize them as much as possible.
Keeping unused interior doors locked and limiting access to the rest of the building can help you avoid a lot of trouble. If there are holes in the system, kids will find them. If there are no holes, they eventually come to accept that their opportunities to create trouble are very limited.
SACRIFICE AND COMPROMISE
We’ve learned from experience that most churches do not feel comfortable with large numbers of youth roaming throughout their building, so whatever space you designate for youth center activities, you need to be prepared for unchurched youths who sometimes behave as unchurched youths, although a combination of tight security measures and adult supervision can make a world of difference. The good news is once they start attending, you have an opportunity to build relationships and share the Gospel. In other words, your church can have hope for the future, something lacking in many of our churches today.
In service to Christ,