Creating a Good Atmosphere Before Your Service Starts

PJ-AW203_TEENHO_D_20100728164045I’m a stickler when it comes to the atmosphere in the room before our student ministry services start. When it comes to our student ministry, there is a certain atmosphere in the room we want to set way before we even start the actual service. We strive to create an atmosphere that is welcoming to new students, promotes community, and gets students excited for the service that is to come. There are many ways to create this type of atmosphere and some of it depends on your context. I want to share with you a few things we do each and every week that helps us create the right atmosphere in the room before we start our services.

Music. Our media team knows that music should be playing before the first student walks through the door. Some of our students are already there because they are in the worship band, media team, or student leadership team, but once the band gets done practicing the media team knows to hit play on our pre-service playlist. This playlist usually starts no later than 15 minutes before the first student arrives. For our pre-service music we use Spotify. We have a pre-service playlists on Spotify that we use each week, one playlist is for high school and the other is for middle school. Our playlist is made up of mostly non-Christian artists with a handful of Christian artists thrown in. You can click here to take a look at our high school ministries pre-service playlist and click here to see our middle school ministries pre-service playlist. We are constantly updating these playlists by adding new songs as well as taking older songs off. There is a reason our playlists are 90% made up of non-Christian music. First off I hate the idea of “Christian vs non-Christian” music, but that’s a topic for another post. When it comes to our student ministry I want to be playing music before our service that our students actually know and like. One of the best ways to create a good atmosphere is to play music. This is why when you walk into a restaurant there is usually music playing in the background. But what creates an even better atmosphere is playing music you know the people walking into the room like and know. I am always asking our students for music suggestions for our pre-service playlists as well as taking time to scroll through top charts on Spotify to see what songs and artists are popular. I also listen to a few radio stations when I am in the car to catch some of the songs and artists our students may be hearing. Before I move on, don’t think I just throw any song a student recommends or I find on Spotify onto our playlist. If it has curse words, I won’t put it on the playlist. If it promotes sexual promiscuity I won’t put it on the playlist. But if it’s clean and students like it, I will put it on the playlist.

Things to do. Another way we create a good atmosphere in the room before we start our services is by providing things to do. It’s great for students to walk into a room that’s bumping with some good music but if nothing else is there for them to do while they wait they will be bored. We always have things set out for students to do before we start our services. Right now we have a ping-pong table, Wii, Kan-Jam (which is one of the best games ever), football, and a basketball hoop. It’s not a ton but it gives students something to do. But there is a great purpose than for them just to have something to do. The purpose of having these things available is that they help students build community with each other. We see students building community each week as they do some of these things we have available to them.

Places to chill. Having things to do is great, but it’s also vital to have some comfortable places for students to just sit back and relax. Some students thrive at connecting by doing something while other connect better by sitting on a couch and just talking. We provide a few areas for students to just kick back and chill. We have a corner with couches as well as an area with a tall table and stools.

Adult and student leaders being trained to connect with new and regular students. One of the main ways to create a good atmosphere before your service starts is to have leaders and student leaders trained to connect with new students and regular students. Music, things to do, and places to chill will mean nothing if students are not talking to one another and welcoming new students into the group. This is why our adult and student leaders are trained and encouraged to be moving around the room talking to new students and welcoming them into the group.

Countdown. I have vowed to never starts a student ministry service with a countdown. Every week we have a five minute countdown that signals we are about to start. I love using countdowns because it naturally pulls everyone into the room and gets them ready to start without anyone having to get up say anything. We have a membership with Centerline New Media so we use countdowns from them each week.

These are some of the things we do each week to create a good atmosphere before we start our services. What does your student ministry do to create a good atmosphere before services?

Published by Austin McCann

Austin is the student ministries director at Redemption Chapel in Stow, OH. He has a BA from Piedmont International University and a Master of Arts in Religion with a Christian leadership focus from Liberty University School of Divinity. Austin enjoys reading, writing, playing basketball and golf, and spending time with his family.

Join the Conversation


  1. Hi Austin,

    I’m intrigued by KanJam. Can you bring it tomorrow and show us how to play? Or am I just way behind the curve and everyone knows this game? 🙂 Thanks! Anne

    Sent from my iPhone


    1. Hi Anne! I’m sure you are not the only one but the majority of the team knows how to play it. Jimmy, Todd, and Josh actually introduced me to it!

  2. I can’t play your playlists. It says not found. What’s the name of it?

    1. Hi Melissa,

      Sorry about that. I updated the links and it should be working now. The names of the playlist are “Porch Pre-Service” for our high school ministry and “Edge Pre-Service” for our middle school.


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