Albion church sees big growth in youth ministry

Photos by Tom Rivers: Mike Outten, the pastor of North Point Chapel in Albion, greets kids on Wednesday evening after they had pizza in the fellowship hall. They were heading to sanctuary to sing.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 December 2018 at 10:23 am

About 70 kids attend Wednesday program at North Point Chapel

Lisa Waldron, one of the leaders of the Truth Explorers youth program, speaks to the kids. They sang upbeat songs with a biblical message.

ALBION – North Point Chapel is bustling with kids on Wednesday evenings. About 70 children attend the Truth Explorers program.

The church started the program last January. Initially, it had a few kids on Wednesdays and they were mainly the kids of the North Point church families.

The church put flyers in the community and went door to door inviting children. Attendance was up to 30 in May. The program took a break in the summer. It was at 30 in September and then doubled when kids were given a $10 gift card from Walmart if they invited a friend.

Most of those friends have continued to go to Truth Explorers on Wednesdays. Last week there were  72 kids for the 2-hour program.

“We just love ’em and have fun,” said Lisa Waldron, leader of the program with her husband, Dean.

The Waldrons play recorded music that is up-tempo which Christian lyrics. They share a Bibical message. They keep the kids moving to different activities.

The program keeps the kids’ attention, and introduces many to Bible verses. Mike Outten, the church pastor, is pleased to see the kids so interested. Every week there are new faces. Last Wednesday there were three necomers.

The church bought a used mini-van in September so it could pick up children for Truth Explorers. The van holds 13 people. Outten made four trips on Wednesday to give children rides to North Point, which owns the former United Methodist Church building at the corner of Platt and East State streets.

“The kids are coming and they’re making friends,” Outten said. “They’re having a blast and they’re learning about Jesus.”

The children sing songs, including, “The B-I-B-L-E, that’s the book for me.”

The kids arrive about 6 p.m. and have pizza in the fellowship hall. They go to a check-in table and get points if they brought a Bible and memorized a verse.

The more points they accumulate, the bigger the prize they can win. They also earn points playing games at the church, including a bowling game where they can knock down plastic soda bottles. They can also shoot basketballs and play mini-golf.

North Point has 16 volunteers running the program, from serving food, checking to see if kids know their verses to running the games. Outten said the church welcomes more volunteers, who all need to go through a background check.

He said more children, ages 5 to 12, are always welcome for Truth Explorers. There is also a teen program on Wednesday evenings.

Outten and North Point took a leap of faith acquiring the long-time United Methodist building about two years ago.

The church purchased a used van in September to pick up kids in Albion for the program. The van holds up to 13 people. Outten makes four trips with the van on Wednesdays.

North Point started as a congregation about three years ago. It first met in the Hoag Library before going to the Arnold Gregory Office Complex. Two years ago North Point went to the United Methodist building after that congregation left the building and now shares space at Christ Church with the Episcopalians.

The United Methodists were told their historic building needed a million-dollar roof repair. When the North Point congregation was preparing to run steel rods in the ceiling, to support the walls and roof, it found the original steel cables. The big roof repair wasn’t needed after all.

Outten said he felt God leading North Point to the church building. His biggest priority was never about the building. He has been most concerned with reaching the community, especially the children.

“This building has come back alive again with all of these kids,” he said Wednesday above the excitement of the kids who were eating pizza and chatting with their friends. “This is the future of the church right here.”

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