For a lot of communities and churches thinking of starting a teen center, it may seem to be a major undertaking beyond your reach, especially during these times of economic hardships. So let me suggest another idea that may give you a completely different perspective and newfound hope for the future.
If you’ve read through our Rock Solid Teen Center (https://rocksolid.us) website, and some of the commentaries on the shop pages on our Rock Solid Store (https://rocksolidstore.com), you know that a major element of our concept is to create a teen center that can look really cool for youths but then be transformed into a more neutral environment for outside groups.
So, here’s a thought: Why not engineer this in reverse? Why not create a neutral-looking church facility that easily transforms into a teen center? Your church building may look a little unconventional, but still in good taste. After all, how many church services today take place in a room with a basketball hoop on both ends. We’ve transitioned some, but not as far as we need to go. All of a sudden, you’re not looking at new rooms that need to be added to your facility but, instead, you are truly focusing on the multi-use of space.
Especially during the middle-ages, the church built some spectacular structures that were great works of art, all to glorify God. Today many people think of them as museums. Now circumstances have changed, and more than at any other time in history, we need to remind ourselves that the church is not a building, and that form should follow function.
For numerous folks in the pews, this will require a major shift in thinking. Many congregations are welcoming to youth in the church, as long as they are well behaved and fully discipled. But if there is the least bit of “rough stuff” going on, they are out the door. At Rock Solid Teen Center we don’t kick them out of the building. Instead, we send them to the sports activity room in the back. Over time they learn what is and is not appropriate behavior.
In Matthew 19:34 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Churches today are conflicted: They want young people in their churches but have such high behavioral standards the youths feel unwelcomed.
We need to meet young people where they are at in their lives, welcome them in, provide them with opportunities for fun, build relationships and then, maybe then, we can welcome them into the life of the church.
In service to Christ,