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Teens Get Loud; Get Serious About Christ

Thousands gathered at the Municipal Auditorium Arena Tuesday night for the opening rally of the National Youth Convention and Fine Arts Festival.

The Municipal Auditorium Arena was dark save for the laser pens and glow in the dark toys. Teens darted up and down the aisles as if they were members of search and rescue squads nearly out of time. Suddenly, flashing bright lights revealed, if only for a moment, the more than 4,000 teens who had come here to worship.

Immediately, it was evident that this service was tailored for teens. On the gigantic television screens a cutting-edge video played as near eardrum busting music roared from the speakers that hung from the ceiling for maximum impact. The altar area had temporarily been transformed into a mosh pit where teens danced, hopped and sang along with The Terry Kelley Band. Though mosh pits are notorious for being places of violence, this mosh pit was one of worship and glory to God.

"Jesus died for you way before you ever decided to love Him," said Terry Kelley as the worship turned to slower, but just as loud songs. As the worship continued the teens followed suit, their voices echoing throughout the arena as they sang, "And I, I'm desperate for you/ I'm desperate for you Lord." At ground level of the arena the teens swayed back and forth, many with arms outstretched toward heaven as if in anticipation of an outpouring. Even in the last rows of the cavernous arena, far from the stage, teens had arms raised.

The style of music and worship is as unique as the teens that filled this place. Raising hands here is cool. A quick survey revealed that those who don't are among the minority. As the service continued it became evident that loud music was just one of many ways leaders of this service, entitled No Regrets, grab and hold the teens' attention. Besides the high-octane worship, the TK band and other leaders posed in-your-face-challenges to the teens to worship and live in a way that would bring glory to God-no matter what the costs.

"You came here to glorify Christ," said Tom Greene as he stabbed his finger into the air to the cheers of the crowd. "You didn't come here just for a light show or to hear a great band-you came here to lift up the name of Jesus Christ."

Jesse Inman, 17, from Fremont First Assembly of God in California, said he came tonight expecting that God was going to move in his life and in the lives of other members of his youth group. "I have asked God to reveal to me what He has planned for my life and I believe He will," said Inman, who could have been speaking for many of those gathered tonight. "Our youth group has been asking God to pour out His Spirit on us so that we can walk in the power like Jesus. So far I have seen God pouring out His Spirit and I think He'll continue to do so."

One of the things Jesus had planned for the teens, according to the speakers, was a life committed to service and bold evangelism. At one point in the service, Greene told the teens that he had no regrets, the theme of the conference, but he was ashamed that he hadn't told some of his classmates from high school about his faith. "Some of those classmates have passed into eternity without a relationship with Christ," said Greene. "And I feel bad and am embarrassed that I didn't tell them about Jesus."

Andy Greene, a youth pastor and Tom Greene's son, followed his father's short talk with more talk of not being ashamed of the gospel and sharing the message of love and hope that Christ offers.

Though his sermon was peppered with anecdotes and one-liners, Greene's words were also laced with challenges.

"Do you see your friends at school the way Jesus sees them?" he asked the students. "If you look at them through the eyes of Christ you will see their fear. You need to be willing to serve them and lay down in front of them so they can walk over you on their way to Jesus.

"God knows your heart," he said. "We are going to pray tonight that the Lord will release you from whatever it is that has you sidelined from reaching your campus for Christ. The Lord can come into your world of imperfections and give you what you need to go and be a servant on your campus."

Near the end of the service, teens prayed and asked God to make them missionaries to their campuses. The murmur of their prayers rose to a steady din. In closing, Tom Greene opened the altars to those who felt they were not reaching their campuses for Christ. Hundreds of students surged forward finding a place to pray at the altar area and in the aisles.

Most everyone else stretched their hands toward heaven in worship as the band played-all seemed to have their hearts focused on the will of Christ.