Is Your Atmosphere Too Thin?
Recently there has been a big change in the dynamic and atmosphere of our youth ministry programs. This change revolves around a group of 9th grade girls. These girls are loud, energetic, and very funny. They help to create a positive and thriving atmosphere wherever they go…the only problem is they just left my middle school program! Since these girls moved into 9th grade at the beginning of the school year I have felt a large dent in the excitement and morale of my middle school environment. It has been a struggle to fill that void…to replace the environment they naturally created. This change has made me think about what I am doing to create an authentic, creative, and fun atmosphere.
A little over six months ago I took a trip to Georgia for North Point Church’s Drive Conference. Before this trip I had never seen North Point, but heard that it was rather extensive and astounding. I had listened to Andy Stanley, but never had the opportunity to see the environment that he created. North Point operates on an entirely different level. Everything there is done to the nth degree. It was almost hard to believe they ever had problems. I’ll admit…I was impressed.
I have come to realize that there are quite a few people out there that are turned off by churches like North Point. Some think it is too large and incapable of real connection. Some think that it is too seeker friendly. Some think that it has too many resources…because we all know that for a church to function properly it must be poor or operate on an average level. It was not the contemporary worship that impressed me. It was not décor or the size of their screens. What genuinely impressed me was the atmosphere that they created. The more time that I spent walking around North Point the more I realized that Drive was all about creating positive atmosphere for ministry! Everywhere I went there were greeters that were actually helpful and not fake. There was an energy that promoted excitement and focus. It seemed that everyone from the top down had taken hold of the same vision.
I want it to be understood that I am not writing this post to convince you that you need fog machines and laser light shows. This post is not advocating the use of skinny jeans and superfluous scarves to help create an environment. It is not about what you buy to help you create atmosphere, but how you generate atmosphere. My goal is to point out some simple things that you can do to create a positive atmosphere and tone within your ministry.
Whose responsibility is it to establish and define the atmosphere of a ministry? Who should create the feel? Who should generate excitement? Craig, one of the pastors on staff at Otterbein, pointed out that I was overlooking my greatest assets…my leaders! The job of producing an exciting atmosphere does not rest on the shoulders of your 9th grade girls, but upon the leadership of the ministry. Mentorship does not just pertain to spiritual things, but leaders should also be examples for teens throughout a ministry program…generating excitement and teaching them how to appropriately interact with the created environment. When I was at North Point I realized that it was not the crowd that was producing the atmosphere, but instead those who knew the direction they desired to go. We, as leaders need to take back the responsibility of creating atmosphere. We need to look at where God is leading us and communicate that vision to everyone else.
Enlist Your Students’ Help
You might be thinking, “I can’t do this by myself.” You are absolutely right! We need to produce vision and communicate that vision to others so that they can help us create a positive atmosphere. This is where my 9th grade girls should come in. They have the natural ability to produce atmosphere. They innately put a charge in a room. Whether they knew it or not people…even upper classmen… were following their lead. I needed to enlist their help and get them on board with my vision! Leaders need to be responsible for creating and implementing vision, but students and parents can help to carry out that vision.
Shoot for Then Now
When I first came on staff at Otterbein I was really excited to hear the staff say that they were shooting for what the church should look like right now. This attitude impressed me greatly. This is dreaming big and not being afraid to say, “we want to be better…we want more!” I saw this attitude at North Point. They were not afraid to look at where they wanted to be and go after it. So many times we make excuses and tell ourselves it is not obtainable…but do we even try? If we keep waiting around for something else to change our dynamic nothing will ever change…we will always feel like we are not quite where we want to be. What if we made the decision to shoot for the environment that we should have…the one that would be genuinely attractive to students…instead of settling for the one we only think we could have?
Posted on October 7, 2011, in Leadership and tagged Atmosphere, Christianity, Church, Church Ministry, Family Ministry, Pastor, Religion, Student Ministry, Youth Ministry, Youth Pastor, Youth Work. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.