ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
Well, not everyone in the fragmented culture wants to maintain a closed club.
NPR's Zoe Chace has this story about Christian teenagers who want to reach out using popular music in what they call human videos.
ZOE CHACE: Picture a massive arena. National Hockey League size. Filled with about 10,000 kids screaming. A group of nine boys marches onto a bare stage.
(Soundbite of song, "Our God Reigns")
Unidentified Man: (Singing) Our God reigns.
CHACE: They perform a wordless skit to the music. The kids form trees, mountains, a crucifix. It's called a human video because it's like a music video with only people as a set. The Assembly of God teenagers watching shriek with anticipation as an unmistakable Jesus is crucified.
(Soundbite of song, "Our God Reigns")
Mr. DANIEL ABOAGYE: Going to nationals is an amazing experience.
CHACE: Sixteen-year-old Daniel Aboagye.
Mr. ABOAGYE: Just having so many other teens around you who are on fire for Christ, and you just don't feel alone anymore. Because like, you know, being in school sometimes, you feel like you're the only person that cares.
CHACE: A little context before we dive in. The Assembly of God is an evangelical Pentecostal denomination. Every year, the church puts on a national arts festival. It's like an enormous talent show. About 60,000 Assembly of God kids try to make it to nationals. Categories range from photography to percussion to human video.
Mr. ABOAGYE: Well, the point isn't to go to competitions and win - it's nice.
CHACE: Here's what's different about this arts festival: the motivation behind it.
Mr. ABOAGYE: The point is that they're supposed to be ministry tools. They're supposed to be things you can go out and share the Gospel with people. When we get it just right, you know, it doesn't happen often, but when it does, when we get it just right, it's - I think it's the most powerful tool we have to minister to people is to show them.
CHACE: Daniel Aboagye's human video group is one of thousands meeting across the country right now to rehearse. His church is called Christ Chapel. It's in Woodbridge, Virginia, in a suburban shopping center.
Ms. ALICE JACKSON: Heavenly Father, God, I thank you for another evening.
CHACE: The church classroom is bare, except for the soda machine and a large poster of Jesus. It's dark outside, and the kids are giggly as they form a large circle.
Ms. JACKSON: In your holy precious name, I pray. Amen.
Unidentified Group: Amen.
Ms. JACKSON: All right. We got to pick a song. Anybody have anything they've been rolling around their mind, any song?
CHACE: Human video coach Alice Jackson turns to Daniel.
Mr. ABOAGYE: Okay, guys.
CHACE: Daniel brandishes his iPad. A gawky, skinny kid, alternately music nerd and passionate football coach, he's charismatic in the way that experts can be. Daniel and his coach run through at least a dozen songs.
(Soundbite of music)
Mr. ABOAGYE: And this has a really good moment where I think we could do a crucifixion scene.
CHACE: Some human videos are biblical stories. But even more are supposed to be current and go along these lines: A teenager contemplates suicide or an abortion or a school shooting or too much partying.
Ms. JACKSON: Giving in to whatever's surrounding him, be it smoking or drinking or whatever, and having this inner struggle.
CHACE: A kid playing Jesus usually steps in at the close of a human video and shows the protagonist how to make a change.
The kids vote on a song.
Unidentified Woman #1: This one, I vote for it.
Unidentified Woman #2: I love it.
Unidentified Woman #3: All who agree say aye.
Unidentified Woman #1: Aye.
Unidentified Woman #4: But I also like the other one.
CHACE: These kids seem like they're having a ton of fun playing around late on a Sunday night in the back room of their church.
But human videos are supposed to be a tool for proselytizing, and it can be hard to get up the nerve to reach out, says Alice Jackson.
Ms. JACKSON: In our backyard here at this church is Potomac Mills mall. People travel from everywhere to go to the mall, and I just - I would love to walk up in the middle of that food court, set up a sound system and be like, hey, here we are and minister to that crowd.
CHACE: What's holding you back, do you think, honestly?
Ms. JACKSON: What's holding me back? Fear. And that's actually a general theme that you'll see a lot in the human videos is fear because there's so many things in life we won't do. You know, some of the kids won't talk to their friends and tell them they're Christians, because they're afraid. They're afraid of rejection.
CHACE: But 14-year-old Brianna Thomas thinks if they're going to reach people at the mall, human videos would be the best way to do it.
Ms. BRIANNA THOMAS: You can't just like go up to a person and be like, hey, have you heard about Jesus lately? It's kind of like an awkward thing.
CHACE: Brianna is in the improv group at her public school. She says she feels human videos allow her to take something that can be difficult, proselytizing, and make it as fun as improv is.
Ms. THOMAS: Human videos are unique and different. And for me, that works because it's like something that I can have fun with and something like I can still have for my Christian self and go out and tell people about Jesus without the whole awkwardness of it.
CHACE: She hopes that just as human videos have reconciled two sides in her life, her school and her church, they can bridge a gap for others.
Zoe Chace, NPR News.
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