Written by Aaron Helman
Should you paint your youth room pink?
Here’s a new way to think about your teaching space, and it’s not what you’d expect.
If you’ve ever tried to teach a serious concept to a group of caffeinated jr high or high school boys…
…you know how impossible it can be to keep their attention even in ideal conditions.
But when conditions aren’t ideal and when everything is working against you, it can feel impossible.
What if your teaching space was actually making it harder to teach your students?
And what if you could fix that?
Your teaching space can help you keep your students’ attention. Or it can make them crazy-hyper. It’s up to you.
Way back in 1979, Alexander Schauss set out to test his color theory by painting several cells of a Naval penitentiary a very specific shade of pink.
The results? After just fifteen minutes in the pink room; even the most aggressive inmates were calmed and placated. They weren’t sure what, but the color pink did something to make these men quieter and more peaceful.
You’ll find that same shade of pink in many of the drunk tanks in local prisons, and for the same reason. Belligerent and intoxicated people exhibit calmer behavior in a pink room.
Does that mean the students in your youth group should be hanging out in a totally pink room?
Not really, although, if anyone has actually tried this, I would love to hear about it.
The Demise of the Radical Youth Room
Back in the late 90s, trendy churches built truly awesome youth rooms. Bold, neon colors like orange and green; blacklights, loud music, posters of Toby Mac DC Talk, The OC Supertones, and Five Iron Frenzy were all over the place.
It was really a good time to be alive.
But there was one big problem with all of this. The loud, almost obnoxious colors actually made students more hyper.
The posters – posters everywhere! – meant that students had dozens of things they could read, look at, or pay attention to, instead of whoever was giving a message.
I heard complaints from youth workers who decorated their rooms like a night club, then were upset when students acted like they were at a nightclub.
Or the guy who outfitted his youth room with those video-game rocker chairs and then complained that all students did was rock in them.
(Yes, you read that right. He spent extra money so he could get chairs that could rock, then literally printed signs asking students not to rock their chairs during the message.)
Is your space conducive to what you want it to do?
Maybe you’re not ready to buy a few gallons of Pepto-Bismol-tinted paint. I don’t blame you.
But, if your youth room is designed to feel like a wild and crazy space; then you’re going to have a harder time keeping students from being wild and crazy.
At the same time, if your space feels like a sterile, stiff, and rigid classroom; don’t be surprised when students are slower to come forward for conversation during small groups.
Here’s what I want you to do. Stop reading this article, and walk straight down to your youth room, and ask yourself these questions:
How does the way this room is designed make me feel?
Does that feeling HELP me or HURT me?
Then come back, and leave your answers in the comments below.
Enjoyed this blog post?
Then you will love this one – What Schools Get Right That Youth Ministry Gets Wrong
Aaron Helman is on a mission to end youth worker burnout by providing the training and resources that you haven’t been taught… until now. Smarter Youth Ministry exists to help you learn how to manage their time and resources better so that you can do more ministry with less frustration. All of that having been said, you most likely know him as the creator of “Lamentation or Taylor Swift Lyric.”