Not all student ministries have their own space to meet. If you’re a student pastor that serves in a ministry that has their own space, this post is not for you. Instead, this is a post for those of us who meet in a shared space. In my current position, our student ministries, both middle school and high school, meet in a shared space. Our facility has a room called the “Big Room” (we didn’t get too creative, obviously) that is specificity designed for our Sunday worship services. However, it is also designed to be easily used for other events and things, including our mid-week student ministry gatherings.
Not only in my current ministry but in many of the ministries I have served in previously, were ministries that met in shared spaces. Because of this I have learned a thing or two about doing student ministry in a shared space. It’s not just about making the space appropriate for your students, it’s also about respecting other ministries and doing what you can with what you have been given. Here are three important things to remember when doing student ministry in a shared space.
1. Make your stuff portable. I have met a lot of student pastors that don’t purchase or use certain things in their ministries because they meet in a shared space. Don’t let meeting in a shared space keep you from getting stuff that makes your student ministry effective and attractive. All you need to do is make sure your stuff is portable. For example, we have a ping-pong table, flat screen TV with a Wii, check-in station and more that is all portable. When we are not using the space, all our stuff is in a storage area. I have also been involved in ministries that have had portables stages, sound equipment and other media/tech stuff. Meeting in a shared space doesn’t mean you can’t have certain things (big or small) that help make your ministry attractive and effective, it just means you need to think “portable.”
2. Make sure to do a good job cleaning up. One of the best things you can do as a student pastor who uses a shared space is to make sure you clean up after your ministry uses that space. Don’t be the student guy who leaves a mess, hoping the facilities guy will clean it up. Don’t hold back when you’re using the space. Use it to the best of your abilities and make a rocking space for your students. However, put in the same amount of energy cleaning up as you do making the space “your own.” Coach up your leaders (and student leaders) in this area. Have them help you clean up after your program is over. Whatever you do, excel in this area. Your pastor will appreciate it, the facilities guy will appreciate it, and God will appreciate it as you strive to be a good steward of the space He has allowed you to do ministry.
3. Compromise with other ministries. For me, this is the hardest part about doing student ministry in a shared space. It’s tough at times to not be able to do certain things because it might interfere or mess with the space too much, which will affect other ministries. But remember, other ministries are having to do the same for you. For example, our student ministry meets in the same space we have our Sunday worship services. There is a ton of expensive things in that room. From multiple projectors, audio equipment and stage lights, there are a lot of things in that room that can be broken and will cost our church a ton of money to fix or replace. Because of that, there are certain games I’d love to do with our students (especially the middle school students) that I can’t do. At first I didn’t like that, but after talking to other leaders in other ministries that use that space and oversee much of that equipment that is in that room, I have come to be OK with compromise. I’ve also learned the things you usually have to compromise on with a shared space are not the most important things. It’s usually things like games and how the area is set up. All good stuff that is important to effective student ministry, but they are not deal breakers. Effective student ministry can still be done. The important things like community and biblical teaching can be done no matter what the space is like and no matter what you can or cannot do. Learn to compromise with the other ministries that may use that space.
These are just some simple things I have learned with doing student ministry in a shared space. I am planning to do a follow-up post with pictures of our shared space and how we tweak it to make it fit our student ministry. Look for that post soon.