Tips for Elevating Your Youth Ministry’s Set Design


Stage design is a powerful tool for creating atmosphere and setting the tone for your youth to connect with God and each other. When done well, set and stage design has the ability to elevate the impact of what you are sharing from the stage. When done poorly or without much consideration, it has the potential to distract and take away from your overall message.

Most youth ministries have little to no budget allocated for dressing up your stages but that doesn’t mean you don’t have options for using your space thoughtfully. Here are a few tips for getting creative with elevating your space:

Set Your Intention

Before making any big purchases or lifting any heavy furniture, ask yourself: “when students walk into a youth group, what do you want them to feel? How do you want the space to help set the tone for your students and their experience with you?”

Consider, will this be a reverent, worshipful experience? Will it be warm and inviting? Will this be challenging and exciting? While these questions can feel abstract, they are the essential first step to making your space accomplish what you want.

Chances are, during different sermon series or even at different points during a single night you’ll want to cultivate different moods to help lead your students from welcoming moments to games to worship to teaching to discussion. To make an impact at any price point, you can use elements like:
• Lighting
• Background pieces
• Thematic Elements


A little bit of lighting goes a long way. If your ministry has a lighting rig and stage washes available, these are great and simple tools for switching up the feel of your space week to week or series to series. Bright spotlights and swaths of reds and oranges can infuse energy, soothing gradients and purples and blues can boost calm and reflection.

If you don’t have this technology, there are other ways to use light to your advantage. Target and Ikea offer vibey lamps and chandeliers at more affordable prices that can help you create mood lighting that gives your space personality and warmth. You can also search secondhand sites like Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist for low cost lighting.

Electronic candles and Christmas lights are other budget-friendly and atmospheric lights that help create a more sacred, worshipful atmosphere. Adding texture and layers in your lighting helps add interest without overwhelm and gives many affordable options for customization when you’re ready to switch things up.

Background Pieces

In addition to lighting, your stage background is a great tool for making your space unique, intentional, and appropriate for your mission. Creating backgrounds could be as simple as designing and printing banners or using these configurable background pieces. If you have any leaders, parents, or teens who are hobbyist carpenters and craftsmen, you could leverage them to build a more robust set and stage pieces.

This component to your stage design does not have to be flashy or complex. In fact, the more generic it is, the more versatile it can be to support any series or event while still offering a fresh look. We recommend choosing three or four times a year to change your background pieces. It can make sense to switch things up around big events like Fall Kick-Off, Christmas, and Easter, but ultimately it’s up to you to choose a schedule that makes sense for you and your youth ministry.

Thematic Elements

Finally, a great way to spice things up is using small props and thematically focused elements. Maybe you decorate your stage with poinsettias or pine trees at Christmas or you use specific props and stage elements for each series. You might choose to add nothing on this layer for months at a time, and that’s fine too! As with most things in church production, simplicity is a virtue.

Youth leaders, thank you for the work you do creating a safe, nourishing space for our students to connect with each other and God each week. When it comes to stage design for your youth ministry, a little bit goes a long way. You don’t have to switch things up constantly in order to create an impactful atmosphere that engages students and helps set the tone for worship. If you keep things simple and on message, keeping in mind the mood you want to cultivate, you’ll be successful creating an intentional space without breaking the bank.

Emma Tarp, Author

About the Author

Emma Tarp is a writer and worship leader based in Minneapolis, MN. On her best days, she's highlighter-deep in a good book or teaching herself to sew. On her other best days, she's helping passionate folks and inspired businesses put words to their work. Find out more at

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