Refining Environments: Students Seminar Notes

At the Orange Washington, DC Tour Stop last week, I went to the Refining Environments: Students seminar led by Jeff Brodie.  These are my notes:

The key question in creating an environment is to ask the question, “What do I want them to know and to do when they leave?”

The Prelude (setting the tone for the experience):

  • This communicates that we thought about students before they go there
  • Every student comes to group with some sort of wall/barriers up
  • It is our job to remove those walls…that is why the prelude is huge
  • Is your social media presence current?  Moms check Facebook, Students check Instagram
  • When students arrive, do they know where they are going, what to do?
  • Every leader should be connecting with students making them feel accepted
  • Music should be playing in the background when students arrive…not too loud, but not too softly either
  • Get outside opinion…this ties in to a post I did a few weeks ago
  • Do volunteers know what they are doing and what the goal for the night is?  Do they know their roles?
  • Keep reminding leaders why they do what they do.

Social (providing time for fun and interaction):

  • Shared moments and common memories create connection
  • Question: how do you create these moments?
  • Have fun where there is an element of connection with others

Transitions (moving smoothly from one thing to another):

  • Think through how you will transition from 1 thing to another
  • Videos can help with transitions
  • Well done ones give momentum to the night, bad ones kill momentum

Worship (inviting people to respond to God):

  • Its more about understanding your students than understanding God
  • Look at who they are and where they are at with Christ when deciding what songs to play
  • Help worship leaders know what they are going to say/sing
  • Are the songs you are singing easy to engage?
  • What are other types of worship you can do?
  • Only do worship when you can do it well

Story (communicate God’s Truth in engaging ways):

  • the Communicator’s primary goal is to invite the students int a discussion, not a into a decision
  • Communicators need to warm up the group for a discussion
  • You don’t have to resolve anything, send them off to small groups
  • 80% of a good talk is preparation
  • 3 reasons to tell the story…1. so they can see something, 2. so they can care for something ,3. so they can hope for something
  • Its not a goal to have the students like you, the Communicator
  • Mix it up a little…video communication is ok

Group (create a safe place to connect):

  • Where the message takes root or grow wings (inspires students to do something)
  • Plan ahead
  • Small Group leaders are pastors and processors
  • Refine your small group questions

Home (prompting action int he home and community):

  • What you do once a week will have more impact if it is repeated during the week
  • Leverage influence at the home

By not refining your environment, you are missing an opportunity to make an influence


Tom Pounder

A father of 4, Tom is the Online Campus Pastor as well as Social Media Director at New Life Christian Church in Chantilly, VA. He blogs, vlogs, periscopes and podcasts regularly about student and online ministry stuff. Check out his work at and on iTunes (search YMSidekick).

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