Category Archives: Decor for a Dime
My Mom once told me that God allows you to experience something so that you can better understand what someone else is going through and help them with that. Truthfully I always thought that kinda sucked, but the older I get the more I see her, and especially God’s, wisdom in it. I have toiled for years (nearly my entire ministry life) in churches with little or no resources, pitiful facilities and no enormous budgets for spicing up your youth’s space, and or advertising. Be that as it may, I am the perfect guy to help you out with that “how do I make it look cool, and spend very little money?” Trust me your teens will be saying, “Wow, this is sweet!” before you know it.
So I’ve been there, you don’t want to lose the mood after your worship time when the lights are off and your screen or TV’s or overhead was giving you some light but the room wasn’t flooded. Well I’m here to help, cause trust me I’ve been there. What I’ve found to be an extremely cheap alternative to a stage spotlight is the good old fashion shop light with the aluminum dome and a flood lamp (both available for under $20 at Wal-Mart). Simply mount your light to the ceiling where you feel you can get the best light, you gotta be careful that you get enough light but also keep it at an angle so that you don’t feel like your standing on the tracks waiting for the train to catch up. Run your extension cord across the ceiling to the wall behind your stage, or wherever you want your light controlled. Plug that extension cord into a good old fashion power-strip and your good to go. Then whenever it’s time for your spotlight simply step on the power-strip and “presto change-o,!” you’ve got your stage spot ready to go.
Something I’ve always found cool, thats a great way to decorate empty walls with class is “Framed Shirt Art.”
It’s a very simple and inexpensive way to add sentimental decorations that are unique to your group. All you need is an event T-shirt and a picture frame:
We use our church’s Disciple Now T-Shirts, but you can use camp t-shirts or even just random shirts that you thought were awesome.
We went with a simple black 11x 14 frame and a plain white mat making the opening for the shirt 8×10.
We’ve cut the front of the shirt out of it and stretched it around the cardboard back of the frame. This keeps it from having extra shirt hanging off the back (which helps it hang on the wall). Then simply arrange the frames on the wall in whatever design you want and TA-DA quality thrifty art.
When I first moved to my current church we had no space to meet in on Wednesday nights. AWANA needed our one place that was ours, in fact AWANA pretty much needed the entire facility. Now I will preface this article by telling you that I was the first full-time youth pastor in the church’s 15 year existence, so needless to say there weren’t tons of students flooding our way. Which does help explain the lack of designated youth space, but nevertheless the problem was there.
The only place not being used by AWANA’s during the Wednesday night hour was the fellowship hall (a large tile room that is capable of seating 175, not ideal if you have 12 and don’t want to feel pathetic), unless it rained then they needed that too. Ok, so side note here. When your trying to create an exciting atmosphere for teenagers you have to try and make the space feel like just enough that you’d have had room if they brought a friend, but not so much that it feels like no ones there. 12 students in that size fellowship hall was definitely not giving off that feel. So I decided to make a sanctuary. That’s right I became my own building contractor, only it was more like arts and crafts on a giant scale.
A few summers earlier I watched my friend Dustin Sams control a large warehouse type space at the summer camp we attended. He did it using large sheets of black plastic, hanging from the ceiling to create makeshift walls. That idea seemed to work well and we needed to shrink the size of the room we were dealing with, so I bought some black plastic (I’ve found that the painters plastic drop cloth works well, you can get that at any WAL-MART in the painting section for less that ten bucks a roll) and went at it.
We went for the whole room covered look, so I tacked it up on the two walls of the corner we chose to meet in and also hung them from the ceiling to create the other two walls. You can eliminate work if you want to and just hang the back walls. I also, hung a piece in the back center of our sanctuary parallel with the stage to allow students to enter into the room from either side. So the back plastic walls looked similar to this:
\ — /
Like I said, I hung plastic on the existing walls so I had to measure and cut each piece to fit in its unique position. What made this even more difficult is that our plastic sanctuary had to be removed before each Sunday morning, this being the case I had to number them starting from the front corner, that way when I went to set it back up the following week I didn’t have to guess which piece was which. For hanging the plastic I bought paper hole reinforcers (you can get in the office supply section for a couple bucks), and little hooks that have the screw-like threads on the other end and got up on a ladder and screwed those into the ceiling and then punched a hole in the plastic stuck the reinforcer on the hole and hung it on the hook. Make sure you get hooks big enough to support the weight or you’ll be climbing up and down that ladder a thousand times to re-hang that plastic. (If you have a drop down tile ceiling get those black office clips instead of the hooks, they work great for clipping your plastic to the existing framework. Or even worse you’ll be apologizing to a student if the wall collapses on them during worship. All in all if you need to create a space out of nothing this trash bag sanctuary is a great option for a very cheap budget.
This is also, an unfortunate pit many youth guys/girls fall into while trying to make their youth space more appealing. Let me tell you a truth that I’ve learned, if you have a small space, you actually need less decorations.
If you have a small room thats been designate for your youth don’t panic as you can still have an awesome space.
First off you need to decide the main purpose of your space; is it fellowship (a place to hang out and have small group discussions), or is a room you plan to use for a big group meetings (teaching/worship etc.) This is mainly important for deciding what type of furniture you need to have. If you have to use it for both then get simple chairs and end tables that will move easily to be rearranged to meet the variety of purposes the room will have.
Next your going to want to create a focal point, whether its where your small stage will go or where you want the focus to be drawn. You don’t want to over do it like this:
This kind of design in a small space makes it even smaller. Instead try something like this one:
Again its all experimentation when it comes to your particular circumstances, so just remember that when it comes to small spaces less is more.