By Amber Mabe
Adolescence has never been easy, but with the dawn of the internet and cellphones modern young people are bombarded with more information and influences from peers and media than ever before. That is why the people of Triad Baptist Church are making it their goal to reach out to local teens through their student programs.
Young people in grades 6-12 can participate in programs for almost any interest group, including sports through Upward, drama, missions, music, social media, and even an in-house coffee shop with all the proceeds going to missions.
“We don’t want to just entertain,” says Toby Pegram, the Student Pastor at TBC, “we want to motivate and push them to be lights in the world, and go into their schools and portray Christ in the right way to other students.”
Every Sunday and Wednesday night, dozens of young people meet to worship and learn together at The Crossing, for middle school students, and Radiate, for high school students. For many, these groups have been life-changing.
Student Ministries Intern Chris Smith, who grew up in the student programs at TBC, said his involvement at church changed his life and shaped his goals for the future.
“Where it all started was somebody seeing potential in me, and investing their time and their life into mine…I really believe, if those few instances didn’t occur, that I probably wouldn’t be where I am today.”
Tenth-grader Rebekah Vaughn says being a part of the student ministry is one of the best things that has ever happened to her.
“I have been at Triad for four years, and when I first came I didn’t have many friends, I wasn’t close to God, and now I feel like when I pray I can almost reach out and touch Him. I go to a public school and so I feel like sometimes I can’t do anything there with God. And here I can come back and I can let it all out and they are very encouraging. It has been such a great environment to be a part of.”
Not only do these young people meet to worship, they are also passionate about acting out their faith in and outside of church. Sierra Stenzler, a high school senior and head of the missions interest group says she used to be shy and introverted before she attended TBC. Now, as a part of the Radiate student ministry, she has participated in service activities both locally and out of state. Her participation gives her opportunities to develop skills and build confidence.
“Triad has given me opportunities to really push out of my comfort zone and get to know more people, and I have met my best friends here,” said Seirra, who talked passionately about her missions experiences, including a recent trip to Nashville. “Our main focus is always ‘for the sake of the Gospel that others may know Christ.’ That is our main goal in everything we do.”
High school junior Spencer Cook shared how TBC is reaching out to teens all over the globe through social media. “What we do is post pictures or quotes, remind the teenagers and motivate them to stay in their Bibles and stay engaged with the reading we do here at church.” Spencer says, “We just keep everybody involved and updated.”
He says that by using social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, they can connect with young people who would not otherwise have the opportunity to know about their church.
“We all know phones are a very big part of our lives, so just the fact that its able to cross their sight is good enough for us. Just to get that thought in their mind for the day, and sometimes it gets gears turning and they start thinking about things.”
These are just a few of the ways that Triad Baptist Church is reaching out to young people of all backgrounds and interests. “The bottom line,” says Student Pastor Toby Pegram, “is to create a place that teenagers can feel like they are part of a family.”
Sierra Stenzler says the environment at Triad Baptist makes her feel like she always has someone to talk to. “Anything that’s going on in our lives, we are able to talk with a leader who understands us. It’s a de-stresser and it gives you somebody to go to when you’re struggling.”
“You’re not going to be alone if you come here,” says eleventh-grader Emily Bohanon who says she has met some of her closest friends through the drama team at Radiate, “It’s nice to come here and have strong Christian friends that can help with everything that’s happening at school and life in general.”
For any young person looking to connect with like-minded teens, or just curious about what Triad Baptist Church has to offer, head over to Awake Coffee Shop on a Sunday or Wednesday night and talk with someone over your favorite espresso drink. Who knows, it just might change your life.