May 12, 2003
|PIER 419 at Lake Pointe Church features 50,000 square feet of space dedicated to youth ministry, including informal gathering spaces, an auditorium, recreation facilities, a skate park (above right) and a cafe.
Youth ministry sets sail from Pier 419 at Lake Pointe
___By Leann Callaway
___Special to the Standard
___ROCKWALL--It's a teenager's dream hangout. There's a skate park, pool hall, indoor and outdoor basketball courts, sand volleyball court, video games and café.
___It's not a shopping mall or a theme park. It's the new 50,000-square-foot youth facility at Lake Pointe Church in Rockwall.
___The facility, called Pier 419, opened April 27. The name was chosen as a reference to Matthew 4:19 where Jesus said, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men."
___Grand-opening ceremonies included a worship service led by recording artist Chris Tomlin.
|LAKE POINTE CHURCH began planning its Pier 419 youth center four years ago.
___Pier 419 will enhance Lake Pointe's already thriving student ministry, church leaders predicted. The goal is to provide a comfortable environment to attract teenagers who don't know Jesus Christ.
___"God is changing kids' lives through relationships," said Bubba Thurman, Lake Pointe's student pastor. "This whole building is going to give us more opportunities for relationships. We're seeing kids begin to do ministry, and that's a key indicator for us that God's really impacting their hearts. They are rising. Their priorities and the choices they make are changing. Our students are giving back."
___Even before the facility opened, it caused quite a stir among curious onlookers and those who couldn't wait to check it out.
___"There hasn't been a night this week that our sand volleyball courts have not been packed with high school students, and the basketball courts all around the building have been packed all week long," said high school pastor Greg Bradford. "The crazy thing was that the building wasn't even open yet.
___"Kids I met Wednesday afternoon on the volleyball court ended up coming back that night to church. Already, it's a place where kids feel comfortable inviting their friends, saying: 'Hey, come check this place out. It's a really cool place to hang out, and you'll have a lot of fun.'"
___The center is staffed by adult volunteers who engage students in conversation. "But even more than that, our students are actively inviting their friends to a place where they know they're going to hear the gospel," Bradford said.
___Before building Pier 419, church leaders involved students in the design process.
___"We got little things like what radio station they're listening to, what TV shows they're watching, and specifics of the buildings--what kids are really into these days," Bradford said. "Obviously, skate park was one of the first things we thought of because we already had a huge number of kids in the community that were skaters, and we were trying to find a creative way to connect them
with the church."
|LAKE POINTE averages 800 students for their midweek program. With Pier 419, rapid growth is anticipated.
___Planning for the facility began four years ago. Construction took one year.
___Church leaders hope the facility will positively impact not just the church but also the larger community.
___"It finally gives our area a state-of-the-art facility that is a safe environment where kids can come and hear about the great things God wants to do in and through them," said Matt Humber, middle school pastor, said.
___Lake Pointe averages 800 students for their midweek program. With Pier 419, rapid growth is anticipated.
___"Even though our youth ministry's pretty big compared to most churches, we still haven't scratched the surface" of the community, said John Mark Seelig, youth associate. Rockwall County recently was named the fastest-growing county in the United States, even though it is the state's smallest county in geographical size.
___"There are so many kids in this community who have never heard the gospel," Seelig continued. "So this is awesome. The best thing about it is we're seeing tons of kids we've never seen before, just coming out of the woodwork."
___Lake Pointe offers several unique services for students. On Tuesday nights, skate church is geared toward skaters. A Bible study begins at 5 p.m., and skaters are required to attend before they can use the park. The high school ministry, "The Net," meets Wednesdays at 7 p.m., while "The Shore" for junior high meets Thursdays at 7 p.m. On Saturdays, the center will be open from 2 to 6 p.m. and students are encouraged to stay for the church's evening service.
___Pier 419 will open an hour before church services begin during the week, and then reopen for one hour after services. Hours may vary during the summer months.
___For its opening weekend, Pier 419 hosted an after-prom party, providing a safe alternative for students.
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