A church’s investment in its youth is paying huge dividends.
PINEVILLE – A church’s investment in its youth is paying huge dividends.
Since Trinity Baptist Church Pineville opened its new $120,000 youth room, it has seen its number of youth increase five-fold.
“It has been a blessing to watch this ministry grow,” said Jeremy Nunnally, student minister at Trinity. “When I first came a year ago, we averaged eight kids in our youth group, now we average almost 50.
“A year ago, I could put all of our youth in one room for Sunday School, and now we are pushing 30 to 35 every Sunday,” Nunnally said. “This new youth room has caused a lot of excitement for them and has given them a sense of pride. I’ve seen a total change in their attitude.
“They have become more involved in our worship, and they are doing a lot more stuff – running the PowerPoint and video equipment; working in the graveyard; working around the church, and helping with other projects. They are beginning to step up and take a more active role. They are our church’s future.”
Nunnally, a former truck driver with no formal seminary training, has a passion for his youth that quickly becomes evident when he speaks about them.
“One thing I brought into this position was that you have to invest in each one of the kids,” Nunnally said. “I love being with the kids. I love showing up at their schools, practices, plays, school functions. I try to eat lunch with them whenever I can.
“I spend 60 to 70 hours a week with them, and it is worth every second,” Nunnally said. “I want them to know that not only do I love them, but God loves you.”
To help Trinity’s youth ministry grow, and realizing he would need more than a single room with a couch, a couple of chairs and a TV to help attract kids, Nunnally began formulating a youth room that would be a draw.
Enlisting the help of Doug Selman, a church member and a local contractor, and the youth, they located an upstairs storeroom in the church’s gym, cleaned it out, and went to work fixing it up.
“There is so much out there competing for the kids’ attention today,” Nunnally said. “I wanted to build a room that would be just as attractive. I wanted to equip it with many of the things kids are looking for today.
“Doug is simply amazing with a skill saw,” Nunnally said. “He could eyeball something, make a cut, and it was perfect. While we involved the youth for a lot of the construction, three months before it was completed we locked them out. Doug and I wanted to surprise them
“We involved the youth for a lot of the construction, but then three months before it was completed we locked them out,” Nunnally said. “We were real conscious how we built and decorated it. We wanted it to be something unique – we wanted that WOW factor.”
Working mostly at night and whenever money became available, the pair custom built everything in the room. While Carolyn Farr, a church member, did the painting, which includes a beautiful mural, the two men did the decorating.
“It was pretty funny watching us go through Hobby Lobby,” Nunnally said. “We were just throwing this and that into the basket. When we would get back, we put this piece up here and that piece over there. We were going for a Louisiana motif and we made sure it came close.”
And they wasted nothing. As they neared completion of the café, they had some stones left over. They took the excess and spelled out Rock of Ages on the floor, and then glued them to the wall over the café.
They took the moss, leaves, vines, and cypress knees they went out and cut and put it all together to make it look like a Louisiana swamp. “We were actually using this to hide some of the pipes and electrical conduits that ran along the ceiling. We also had curtains donated that we hung in the ceiling so the lighting wouldn’t be so harsh.”
When the room was unveiled, Nunnally knew he had succeeded. It had the desired effect or WOW factor on the kids.
The room included two 61-inch TVs, a Playstation 3, a Wii, a X-Box 360 in the game room. There were three other 42-inch TVs placed strategically placed around the room. There was a theater which seated 42, but could comfortably seat as many as 52, a sound room, and a stage.
There was an arcade game, a pool table, shuffle board, a foosball table, electronic darts and basketball, and a café where students could get a soft drink, coffee, hot chocolate, or a cappuccino.
Because school is so important, Nunnally had included a computer area with printers and internet access where students could do their homework or reports.
“I told the kids this was their room,” Nunnally said. “We have some kids who are responsible for running the café. They are responsible for the cleaning, sweeping and vacuuming. Our regular staff never has to bother with this room. Some stay late on Friday nights or come in Saturday or before Sunday school and make sure everything is clean.
“The are very proud of it,” Nunnally said.
So is the church, because the adults are allowed their own night in the room.
“On Monday night we host an adult fellowship in here,” Nunnally said. “Tuesday we have tutoring for the kids. Wednesday is worship. Thursday it is closed so I can get one night at home, Friday is Pit Stop, which is open to kids in grades seven through twelve. So, it is being fully utilized.
“Parents can rest easy because we have security here and this is a safe Christian environment,” Nunnally said.
Word is quickly spreading about the room. The youth group is growing as more and more youth are bringing their friends. Nunnally said he has noticed kids from other churches coming and hanging out there. He’s contacted area youth ministers offering them a chance to use the room.
As a matter of fact, he just finished hosting 55 students from New Orleans for the Collegiate Evangelism Conference. And a church from West Monroe, who was considering building something similar was sent to check out Trinity’s youth room by the LBC’s Kevin Boles.
“I don’t want t see it (the youth room) be just our little thing. I want as many people to come and enjoy it. We don’t pressure the kids that come. We have a devotional and present the Gospel. We encourage the kids to step up and be leaders and to minister to each other. And the kids are taking a more active role as far as discpling,” Nunnally said. “We’ve had the entire Pineville baseball team over, and that because our kids went and got them to come.”
Understandably proud of the room, Nunnally has plans to add even more.
“We want to put a rock wall in the back of the room where there is nothing right now,” Nunnally said. “And we are looking at making a similar room on the opposite gym into an activity room for the GAs and a fitness center for everyone. We may have to wait until we get a little money.
“If this ministry continues to grow, we may have to use the other room for the overflow of kids,” he said. “This is God at work here. He provided the inspiration, the money, and these kids. He is in charge and there can be no denying that fact.”