:: You have to get outside the walls of your church to create change in the world.
Rocketown is a club that started out as a dream that Michael W. Smith had of providing a place for disenfranchised youth to have a place where they would be comfortable, listened to, and taught. Today Rocketown has grown beyond what anyone ever thought it would be. Daily Rocketown SERVES youth in Nashville, TN - learn more by reading the below notes.
Rocketown shares Christ’s love with youth through creative programs and mentoring relationships that are culturally relevant and eternally significant.
Participant circumstances span the range of neglect, abuse, poverty, absent parents and normal peer pressures. Through a central location, unique programming, and scholarships for disadvantaged youth Rocketown creates an environment that is both diverse (racially, culturally and economically) and accessible for teens and their families.
Singer/songwriter Michael W. Smith founded Rocketown in 1994 to give teens a positive alternative to the many negative pressures they face. The first of its kind in the Southeast, Rocketown has grown into a regional outreach as well as a model for faith-based relational outreach across the country.
For several years Rocketown operated as a teen club, then organized Sunday evening programming and special events for teens. Following the tragedy of Columbine in 1999, Rocketown’s board was inspired to grow the scope of programming and move to a central location in downtown Nashville. Mark Ezell, co-founded the current facility which opened in 2003, and houses a coffee bar; photography, art and dance studios; stages for live entertainment; and Middle Tennessee’s only indoor skatepark. To date there have been more than 425,000 visits with an average of 1,350 teens from across Middle Tennessee participating in programs each week.
How Rocketown Works
the A, B,C, Ds….
Attraction – In the beginning, there is an attraction. Young people come to Rocketown for it’s great music venue, skatepark, 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 and they find help through free counseling.
Although we know the breadth of impact is important, we strive every day to look beyond just the number of people in the building to what we believe is most important—the individual lives that are changed. Here teens find what they’re desperately searching for—acceptance, a place to be themselves, people who care and listen. Individual stories include: 15 year old Lisa, who was struggling with self-esteem and finding friends, until she began participating in classes and girls group; 16 year old Justin who comes to the skatepark as a place to stay away from drugs and negative influences; and former 18-year old gang member, Ray, who has turned his life around through a rap song writing and performing group.
While reaching local youth, we are also serving as a model for faith-based relational outreach across the country with dozens of organizations seeking our assistance for their own communities. Rocketown facilitates regular workshops for organizations who are interested in developing similar outreaches.
We Need Your Help
Because relationships are the backbone of everything that takes place here, volunteers are indispensable. Financially, our goal is to generate 50% of funding through in-house revenue (admission, food and product sales, memberships). The remaining 50% is provided by individuals, businesses, churches and foundations. With the community’s help we hope that Rocketown will be available for the youth of Nashville for year’s to come.
You can make a difference with your time, financial contributions, and even rentals for corporate or private events. Whether you are able to make an in-kind donation, a cash gift, or a pledge of monthly support, your gifts help. For more information about giving, click here or to find out how to volunteer, click here.