Canada's CTV News reports that high school metalheads gathered in a Moncton, New Brunswick church this week — not to pray, but to fight it out in a deafening battle of the bands.
Organizers at the Moncton Wesleyan Church hoped to reach out to youth who would normally stay far away from the place of worship, by mixing in a brief sermon with the heavy metal concert.
But it didn't go exactly as planned. About 800 screaming teens packed into the church, vandalizing and knocking over pews that hadn't been removed beforehand. [Watch a CTV News report at this location.]
One person was even slightly injured. Still, organizers called the concert a success.
"A church pew can be replaced," youth pastor Mark Moore told CTV News.
"It's not something we're worried about and in the big scheme of things — in God's eye's — I think it's more important that 800 kids experienced last night."
Some teens admitted they would never have entered the church if not for the concert, and were thankful for the venue.
"It's just that they'd let us come here, for like, a free show," said one teen during the show. "We don't have to do anything. Everything's here for us."
Moore said he has no regrets about the concert, because he was able to reach out to youth by creating an environment they found comfortable.
"It's easy to be an arm-chair critic and sit at home if you're 40 or 50, and say, 'I can't believe this is happening,'" said Moore. "But I challenge you to consider."
During the concert, Moore gave the teens a sermon that highlighted the church's relaxed approach.
"Jesus Christ loves you. He does not care what you've done," he told the crowd. "I'm not trying to convert you to my religion. I'm not trying to tell you to put on a suit, get a bad comb-over, and send you off to the Christian factory."
It's unclear how many of the youth cared about — or even listened to — the sermon. But the church's senior pastor, L. D. Buckingham, said it was important to take a chance.
He admitted the approach was unconventional, but argued that was necessary to make the church relevant to a younger community.
"We're never going to do in this church what I like. We're going to do what connects with the culture and the people outside the church," said Buckingham.