Central Baptist expanding to take in new worshippers

Joseph Vest, pastor at Central Baptist Church, left, and Derek Osburn, the student pastor, look over the blueprints of the expansion/renovation project that will take place at the church. The project will include a new youth center. Photo: Eric Kluth

By Darrell Todd Maurina

Members of Clovis’ Central Baptist Church will break ground Sunday on a $3.5 million building project to add a new youth building and expand the existing church sanctuary.
“Our attendance on weekends has pretty much doubled in the past three years, and with the growth, you have growing pains and have to figure out what to do with the folks who are coming,” said Joseph Vest, pastor. “When your church grows with young adults, they have baggage and that baggage is called kids. We don’t view that as a negative; we want to help with that and view it as a ministry.”
Construction is expected to be finished around the beginning of school in the fall of 2004. When completed, the new building will seat 350 to 400 people and have six classrooms on a bottom floor. Vest said it will be used for Wednesday evening services, Saturday evening services, and some other functions such as conferences and weddings.
The youth building will also free up space in the church’s existing facility. Vest said the church plans to add about 300 seats to its existing sanctuary, which currently seats 550 people, by combining the existing sanctuary with space currently used for youth activities.
Building plans call for a facility that can be used for many different types of activities.
“Our church as a whole has a tendency to be somewhat technologically savvy,” Vest said. “When I was a kid growing up, youth areas were decorated with street signs and posters. This area will be more decorated with video projections than things on the walls. You can change the tone for what is going to be happening just by changing the graphics.”
Central Baptist Church holds two services on Sunday with a total attendance ranging from 525 to 650, plus Saturday evening services that attract around 130. Vest said church growth studies show that congregations have difficulty growing effectively once they reach 80 percent of their building’s capacity, and building now is a proactive step to help the church expand.
Vest said the new youth building fits well into his church’s plan and vision for growth.
“One of the things we are proud of is our church tries to be innovative and this is a reflection of our creativity,” Vest said. “We just don’t do things like typical churches, and especially typical Baptist churches. We don’t apologize for trying to have fun at church, but the message is grounded upon Scripture.
“We don’t try to be a comedy club. It’s not about trying to make people feel happy, it’s about trying to present the message in a way that folks will actually listen,” Vest said. “That’s our goal.”