I don't know if the above link will work; it's probably behind a pay wall.
In the event it doesn't, here's the gist of it:
A nearby Assembly of God church held a late afternoon/evening youth event with hip-hop artists, Christian rock groups, basketball, an inflatable play house...
and a spray-painting (on an old trailer) and van-smashing spree.
For as many as 2,000 students in middle school and high school, this was a night to express themselves with activities that, on the surface, could just as easily taken place on meaner streets. But it was all legit.
...There was also the chance to win special prizes, including $15,000 and Apple eMac computers.
But for the Rev. Jon Brown, youth pastor for nearly nine years at the church, the event was really more than a night of fun.
It was giving them a venue that might open a door for kids to turn to God and for some who’ve never been to a church, he said....
Brown said the group is trying to reach kids in the way they understand — socializing with friends, enjoying the moment. While realizing that many come for the entertainment, others do find that they can can accept Christ, according to Brown.
“The ‘Premiere’ is to introduce them to Jesus, many for the first time,” he said.
Now, granted, my understanding of Jesus's message and mission and this church's understanding of the same are likely to be very, very different from each other.
But still!?! What exactly does wanton vandalism -- even if it's with things donated to the church -- have to do with anyone's interpretation of the Gospel?
I'm actually amazed (and, to be honest, a bit depressed) that kids who showed up didn't feel so completely patronized that the whole thing was just a turn-off.
I know from time to time we UUs wonder about how we could better engage our youth to be more connected in our churches.
This is one idea I hope we don't try to copy.
As an aside -- I recognized the name of one of the kids in the story. He goes to the same UU church I do.
If I see either of his parents I'll have to ask what they thought of the whole thing...