By day, North Parkersburg Baptist Church's worship center looks much like any other church's sanctuary, complete with pews and a stage.
But Wednesday evenings from 6:30 to 7:30, it's transformed into a place where young people can rock out to live music in their gym shorts, meet new friends and connect with God.
Jared Bryant, a worship leader at the church, said the mid-week service, called "The Pulse," was started in 2008. It came about due to the dwindling attendance numbers for the church's regular Wednesday night services.
Photo submitted by Mike Berry
Services featuring music and multimedia elements, like this one for a youth group at First Baptist Church in Williamstown, are often seen as a way to attract younger people to area churches.. BELOW: A poster about North Parkersburg Baptist Church’s mid-week service entitled “The Pulse.” designed to appeal to young adults.
"There wasn't a whole lot of pull toward the Wednesday evening services," he said.
Bryant said when he and other church leaders put their heads together, they decided they wanted to offer something new and fresh that would attract people in the 18 to 35 age group.
First came the mission statement: To provide or create an environment for people to encounter and respond to God.
Young adult religion statistics
65 percent of American "millennials" - people who were born between 1980 and 1991 - consider themselves Christians.
14 percent consider themselves atheist or agnostic.
14 percent do not list a religious preference.
8 percent claim other religions.
20 percent do not pray.
34 percent read the Bible or other sacred texts at least once a month.
Source: LifeWay Research, www.lifeway.com
And somewhere along the line, after several ideas were tossed around, the group came up with the name of the service.
"We believe God is everywhere and the pulse that's beating within us is worship," Bryant said.
The group then started envisioning what the environment should be like for the service.
"The 18 to 35 age group is technologically sound, so we tried to make it as multimedia friendly as possible," Bryant said, noting that there are six projector screens used each week to display everything from images to scriptures to videos.
He said the high-energy music, created with electric guitars and drums, is also aimed at young people.
And the approach seems to be working.
Bryant said on a typical Wednesday night, anywhere from 105 to 155 people show up for The Pulse.
One of those who attends regularly is Belpre resident Jake Baldwin, 31. Baldwin serves as a youth leader at the church.
"It's awesome," he said. "It's great praise and worship, great music and great fellowship with other people."
According to the results of a study recently released by LifeWay Research, one in four "millennials" - people born between 1980 and 1991 - attend religious worship service at least once a week.
LifeWay Research is a division of LifeWay Christian Resources, a nonprofit organization that produces music, literature and other material for churches and operates Christian stores.
The study, wherein 1,200 millennials were surveyed, also shows two out of three people in this age group rarely or never go to a church, mosque, synagogue or temple.
The study also shows that 72 percent of those surveyed indicated they're more spiritual than religious.
Brittany Klintworth, 18, of Marietta, said she occasionally attends church but she doesn't consider herself to be religious.
"Me and my boyfriend go with his family," she said. "We'll go Sunday night and sometimes Wednesday night, but that's not our set schedule."
Klintworth noted that while she likes the church, she's not aware of any programs or activities available for young people and the church's members are primarily older.
Mike Berry, the young adult pastor at First Baptist Church in Williamstown, said the church has members of all ages, which is why there are programs for everyone. And when it comes to reaching out to millennials, Berry said there are a few different "care groups" that meet regularly outside of the walls of the church.
Those groups are meant for people such as college students and adults with children. He said the groups meet in church members' homes.
"Usually the kids go off and play and the adults will have some sort of small group curriculum or inductive bible study where you open up the Bible and feed off of each other," he said.
According to the study, 20 percent of millennials meet with a small group to study the Bible or other sacred text at least monthly.
Berry said anyone who is interested in joining one of the church's small groups can contact him at (304) 893-2888 for more information.