If the name Rocketown sounds familiar, you may know it as the record label of hit-song man, Michael W. Smith. What you may not know is that it’s also the name of a mega-popular youth center in Nashville. And now, there’s a Rocketown youth center in Pompano Beach. It looks like it’s going to be a rising star, too, just like its Nashville parent.
Executive Director and former NFL player, Clay Shiver, is excited about how well the program has been received in its first few weeks of existence. Rocketown Florida is a 13,000-square-foot Culture facility with a music venue, a cafe, and a recreation center that offers programming geared toward middle-school and high-school students.
“It’s not meant to compete with the church or local youth ministries; it’s a bridge between the community and the church family,” says Shiver. “We provide a safe, alcohol and drug-free environment for youth to enjoy concerts, classes, video games and more.”
Within the first few weeks of opening its doors, 2,500 students visited Rocketown Florida. There had been no formal advertising, just grassroots word of mouth. An Culture coordinator brought in bands that the youth love, like Sanctus Real, drawing hundreds of students.
Singer/songwriter Michael W. Smith founded Rocketown in Nashville in 1994, to give teens a positive alternative to the many negative pressures they face. It was the first facility of its kind. Students feel quite comfortable in its cafe, which serves as the living room for the center. With movable furniture, an acoustic stage and ever-changing art exhibits, students can unwind after school with snacks, ping-pong and video games. They also receive help with homework, and can participate in a variety of educational programs. Parents enjoy a cup of coffee while their children benefit from all Rocketown has to offer. In the last six years, the Nashville site has had 425,000 visitors. The Pompano site is the second Rocketown in the U.S.
NFL Player Inspires Youth
Shiver, born in Tallahassee, made a decision to follow Christ when he was 13 years old. He played football for Florida State, and then played for the Dallas Cowboys, the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers. He and his wife, Ty, a former All-American Cheerleader at Florida State, are the parents of three children, ages 7, 5 and 3.
As a parent, Shiver knows how important it is for parents to know their kids are safe.
He says Rocketown instills strict policies to maintain a safe and positive environment. “We have policies against violence, profanity nothing morally questionable.”
Shiver, has been in Life positions at Florida State and at the local church level. He’s a frequent motivational speaker, and is often found encouraging students at youth assemblies.
Youth Pastor Partnerships
Brody Howell is a student pastor at Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, but he also plays a role at Rocketown, by introducing other youth pastors and churches to its advantages.
“The benefit for youth pastors and churches is that they can encourage their students [to] see Rocketown as a place to invite their unsaved friends, who may be a bit more intimidated to come to church. Then, as those students come to know Christ through the Rocketown experience, those students will then be encouraged to attend a partnering church and youth group for discipleship, [and] also be introduced to their First Priority Club, to get involved in campus evangelism.”
Rocketown’s philosophy is as easy as ABCD
Attraction. In the beginning, there is an attraction. Young people come to Rocketown for its great music venue, skate park, coffee bar and programs.
Building Relationships. Once they are here, attendees find people who accept them as they are. Staff, volunteers and peers have created an inviting community.
Connection. Participants find ways to connect through discussion groups, Bible studies, service projects and shared interests.
Discovering Purpose. Through creative programs in arts, music and extreme sports, participants discover new interests and develop their talents. They learn skills that help develop a sense of purpose. They find affirmation through one-on-one mentoring.
For more information email, Brody Howell at [email protected] or visit www.rocketownfl.com.