Jesus For Juniors

How do you lure disaffected suburban teens into the bosom of the church? Try this unholy trinity: rock & roll, junk food and Foosball.

Outreach is a big part of the Realm's mission, and not only in America. Earlier this month a group of high school kids and their chaperones took their sleek sports car on the road, embarking on a two-week evangelical tour of Italy. Packing along hundreds of pounds of equipment, including electric guitars, drum sets and amps, they planned to drop in on Venice and Rome to jam. Led by The Realm's praise and worship leader (and also semiprofessional singer/songwriter), Aaron Mansfield, they'd play loud rock music -- some secular, some not -- in piazzas and hand out Bibles.

The Italy trip was just part of the Realm's plans for 2004, which have also included an "alternative prom" trip to Chicago in May, and a surprise "rite of passage" excursion for junior-high boys: After being "kidnapped" by their parents, the boys were taken camping at Cuivre River State Park, where they spent a Saturday night under the stars before returning to the Realm for the 9 a.m. Awakening, looking spent but content.


Freddy Williams (left), director of creative arts and 
programming at the Realm, has his eyes on the prize. 
Jamie George (right), youth pastor at the First Baptist 
Church of Harvester, has his eyes on you.
Jennifer Silverberg
Freddy Williams (left), director of creative arts and programming at the Realm, has his eyes on the prize. Jamie George (right), youth pastor at the First Baptist Church of Harvester, has his eyes on you.
Christian rockers Sky Harbor lay down a righteous 
groove
Dan Padgett
Christian rockers Sky Harbor lay down a righteous groove

If the Realm is a Ferrari, someone has just keyed it. Upon their rainy-morning return from Cuivre River State Park, the junior-high boys are greeted by an anything-but-random act of vandalism on the side of the previously pristine youth center.

"Church is boring," reads one spray-painted scrawl.

"God kills more then [sic] he saves," reads another.

A third: "God is dead." The crude black letters are accompanied by an anarchy symbol.

At First Baptist's 10:15 service, Jamie George baptizes a couple of Realm kids in the traditional head-dunk style, then stands before the congregation.

"Can you roll that, Scott?" he asks, as soft piano music trills in the background. Soon digital photos of the desecration are being displayed on the tech-friendly sanctuary's several huge-screen monitors.

"We got our first graffiti this morning," he announces, about as awkwardly as Jamie George ever says anything. "And I had some students come and find me and say, 'Jamie, ugh, did you see what happened? Right across the wall, three or four sayings. Can you believe this has happened?' And I said, 'Yeah. I can. And I'm excited. Praise the Lord.'"

A trickle of nervous laughter emerges from the congregation.

"'God is dead.' 'God kills more than He saves.' You know what? There's the tendency to go, 'Man, it's a beautiful building. That they would go and deface that!'"

George looks out over his congregants. "Hey, it's just a building, right?" he says. "The fact is, Satan wouldn't be this hacked off if we weren't making a dent in his kingdom."

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