When a small space makes a large impact

The leadership of a Texas church provides a state-of-the-art center for its youth, making an impact before they go on their way.

By Brent Mullett

How important is youth programming for teens in today’s churches? The youth are the church of tomorrow, right? Having a successful youth program will add excitement to any church. Unfortunately, often funding for students is not a high enough priority in a building project or the overall church budget.

Imagine being a teen growing up in a church that decides to create a space that is totally dedicated to the youth group. The area would offer things most young people would enjoy, like several Xbox stations, a café, a lounge area and a spectacular worship center with state of the art Audio Video Lighting (AVL).

That is what the teens at First Baptist Church, Longview, TX, discovered when “The Hub” Student Center had its grand opening last fall. A tech-heavy place was uniquely designed just for them. This exciting new space geared for the students showed a strong dedication to them at FBC and in the community.

Higher attendance

“After setting up and tearing down week after week in the gym, we wanted to have a place where students could go and call their own, a place truly designed for worship,” explains Chris Talleri, associate minister to students at the church. The result has been incredible with attendance higher than ever and great excitement from both youth and adults.

The space became available when the bank building across the street was vacated. The church had already been using other areas of the building for various community outreach programs and the facility included a computer lab and a gymnasium. The plan for a youth room had been in visionary planning for close to three years. The plan was not implemented until Sam Midgett recently came on staff as the minister to students.

A few issues of concern included the small size of the space and its hard, concrete floors and ceilings, as well as obstacles like the large windows on each side of the worship area.

While the footprint of the usable area was small, and only allows for about 150-175 seats, the positive was that there was a blank canvas in terms of what was possible for AVL design. The goals were simple: a high impact audio system, an out-of-the-box video system and theatrical lighting system that would create flexible environments to create different moods to aid worship and teaching times.

Functional style

Benton Brother’s Solutions, Cartersville, GA, was selected to install themed, graphic acoustical wall panels placed over the blacked-out windows and the front and rear walls. The panels served two purposes. They eliminated the high reverberation time and assisted in concealing the large windows with graphics. Benton also installed an acoustical product in the ceilings to reduce negative reflective energy from the concrete ceiling.

The engineering department of CSD Inc., Woodburn, IN, took the lead in designing a permanent stage and trussing system. A relatively large trussing system from Global Truss was selected as the main structure of the worship center. LED lighting was attached throughout the trussing to allow for almost any color theme. Ten Elation Power spot intelligent fixtures were also installed with the intent of creating different atmospheres using multiple colors and gobo designs to enhance the worship experience.

Bag End, Lake Barrington, IL, has a history of outfitting smaller, club-type venues, which made them a logical choice for the speaker system. Powered TA series-powered main speakers were used for the main speakers, while powered D-12 low-profile subwoofers fit perfectly within the four stage sub bunkers.

A wall of video monitors was rejected due to the desire to include text content as well as video images. A Da-lite 22-foot wide video screen was implemented for the video system that included two Panasonic projectors with edge-blending technology from TV One, Erlanger, KY.

The worship center audio and video systems are tied to the independent café area. A Kramer scaler switcher allows the café to select either local sources or a feed from the worship center to feed two 50-inch flat-screen monitors. Ceiling speakers allow for independent audio to be piped into the lounge areas or share the worship center feed.

This is most definitely not your father’s youth group worship experience, or mine for that matter. In this case, the leadership of FBC Longview had learned to understand the value of making an impact on today’s youth before they leave and go on their way. They are doing a great job of meeting them where they are and challenging them.

Brent Mullett is a project manager for CSD Inc., Woodburn, IN. [www.csdus.com]


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