Our Youth Staff recently read through Andy Stanley’s book: Deep & Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend. This book has helped us to continually ask: “Does this make sense to a student who has no ‘church culture’ background?” We are committed as a Youth Staff and volunteer team to do whatever we can to create an irresistible environment for students!
In addition to planning content and programs that engage all students toward a relationship with Jesus, we recognize that the environment must be irresistible as well.
“Every environment communicates something. There are no neutral environments. Environments are messages before The Message.” Our Coffeehouse/Youth Group vision is to provide a safe and welcoming place in which all students can experience Jesus. We always present a verbal Gospel Message, but recognize that we must first communicate a “welcoming message.”
“By merely walking in the door, many have already made up their minds as to whether they will come back the following week.” We acknowledge that our check-in area is not our best first impression and needs improvement.
“Communicate that you are expecting guests.” We hope to communicate through the friendliness of our volunteers, students, and environment that guests “came to the right place.” In fact, we have been expecting them.
“Design, decor, and attention to detail communicate that you understand your target audience. It assures attendees that you’ve done your homework, that you took some time to investigate what would make them feel comfortable.” By intentionally creating an appealing setting for students, we hope they will the connect to the content we present, seeing it as relevant to their lives.
This fall, our Youth Staff asked our Governing Board for budget support to create a more irresistible environment for our students, including significantly updating our Coffeehouse and youth quad spaces. They approved. (After our December 13th Christmas Party, we will be taking a break at Coffeehouse until January 10th implement these renovations.)