The dance party where God is in the house

21st December 2018 2:15 PM
UPDATED 23rd December 4:14 AM
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THE music is pumping, the lights dazzling and young people are jumping up and down like they are at a rave party.

But there's not a drop of booze to be seen.

Instead, teens are being swept away by the sounds and vibes of a church 'praise and worship' session.

This is no nightclub. It's a youth church in 2018.

Across the Sunshine Coast, hundreds of young people are spending their Friday nights hanging out at church.

The nights often begin with basketball, handball, skateboarding and weird and wacky challenges.

FUN TIMES: Getting drenched at Empire Youth at CityEdge in Caloundra.
FUN TIMES: Getting drenched at Empire Youth at CityEdge in Caloundra.

There's mechanical bull riding, dunking machines, laser tag, supervillain nights, food fights and pool parties.

But behind it all is a very deeper search - to find a place in the world, to belong, and to be loved and accepted for who you are.

CALVARY Church at Tanawha is home to one of the biggest youth groups on the Coast with about 200 attending each Friday night.
CALVARY Church at Tanawha is home to one of the biggest youth groups on the Coast with about 200 attending each Friday night.

Churches like CityEdge at Caloundra, C3 at Kawana Waters, Calvary at Tanawha, Suncoast at Woombye and Flametree at Nambour offer high energy youth programs designed to provide a place to have fun, build relationships and friendships.

One of the biggest parties each week is at Calvary where about 200 youths gather.

Parents dropping their kids off for the night are quickly given a new perspective on what a church looks like.

Calvary's message is unashamedly Christian, but for young people, it's about having a purpose.

Youth pastor Josh Douglas said young people wanted to make an impact in their lives.

"When people ask them 'what are young to do when you are older' it implies they can't do something significant now,'' he says.

Kawana's C3 Church is home to a vibrant Friday youth hangout where young people get to connect with one another.
Kawana's C3 Church is home to a vibrant Friday youth hangout where young people get to connect with one another.

Pastor Douglas said his church believed God could use people at any age to make a difference to those around them.

"Just because you are a teenager doesn't mean you can't do something awesome.''

"We are all about creating a place where we highlight their potential'.

Calvary Church attracting hundreds to youth nights: A promotional video for Calvary Church's youth program at Tanawha.
Calvary Church attracting hundreds to youth nights: A promotional video for Calvary Church's youth program at Tanawha.

In January, Calvary will hold a Youth Alive conference which will be attended by about 2000 people. "It's like our youth night on steroids.''

Calvary says it takes its role in looking after youth seriously with volunteers all having blue cards and trained in child protection.

Often the connection with youth has started well before they come through the doors.

Kawana's C3 Church a strong focus on creating opportunities for young people to connect with one another.
Kawana's C3 Church a strong focus on creating opportunities for young people to connect with one another.

CityEdge at Caloundra, for example, offers a free breakfast program at Caloundra High, Caloundra Christian College
and Meridan State College which feeds more than 200 teens a week.

Under Pastors Paul and Kate Bartolo, the church has been running outreaches into schools for more than a decade and believe strongly in helping youth deal with issues in their lives from depression to bullying.

PUMPING: Empire Youth's praise and worship at CityEdge Church in Caloundra.
PUMPING: Empire Youth's praise and worship at CityEdge Church in Caloundra.

Former Caloundra High chaplain Stuart White, now a pastor at Nambour's Flametree Church, said building relationships was critical for churches to reach young people.

Youth themselves, he said, may just go along to youth nights because it was fun but sub-consciously it could be because it was a safe place where they felt they belonged.

POOL PARTY: CityEdge church at Caloundra.
POOL PARTY: CityEdge church at Caloundra.

CityEdge youth pastor Nick Bothe said many teenagers on the Coast were hit hard by bullying at school and loneliness.

Most of the young people coming to the church's youth nights are from local schools, rather than the church itself.

Empire Youth, run by CityEdge Church at Caloundra, provides a great place for teens to connect.
Empire Youth, run by CityEdge Church at Caloundra, provides a great place for teens to connect.

Each year, CityEdge goes into schools around Valentine's Day giving every female student and teacher a red rose to remind them they are loved as part of its Real Heart program.

"We believe in empowering a generation to hope and to live a life of purpose,'' Ps Bothe said.

"We are unashamed in our faith but we are also unapologetic in our love.''

City Edge Church's end of year super heroes and villains party.
City Edge Church's end of year super heroes and villains party.

The church's hope ultimately is that by more young people living under that culture, issues like bullying will be eradicated.

While in years gone by, churches may have been accused of 'bible bashing' , the approach is now geared to inspirational messages which will give them practical keys to dealing with life's issues.

But Ps Bothe said he strongly believed in the Christian faith being at the heart of a person's fulfilment.

"It's a purpose-filled life when you live for Jesus,'' he says.

Suncoast Church has a high energy youth program and lively services.
Suncoast Church has a high energy youth program and lively services.

Kawana's C3 church also has a strong focus on reaching out into its community. In recent times, the church has handed out 300 hampers of groceries, worth more than $18,000, to those in need.

Its Shine Community Care team also put on a Christmas lunch for Grandparents as Parents to acknowledge those with the burden of raising children as grandparents.

Dan Frecker, the youth pastor at Kawana's C3 church, which has more than 1000 members on its books, said the youth program included not just fun activities but 'connection' nights where youth broke up into small groups to get to know each other better.

The song service is anything but dull.

"They are all jumping around having fun. It's not dead, it's alive,'' Ps Frecker said.

Kawana's C3 Church is home to a vibrant Friday youth hangout where young people get to connect with one another.
Kawana's C3 Church is home to a vibrant Friday youth hangout where young people get to connect with one another.

WORSHIP MUSIC A HIT

Globally, lively worship music produced by Hillsong Music and Bethel Music, are continual chart toppers.

Since 1992, Hillsong Worship has created 46 albums with more than 300 songs.

Each week, Hillsong Worship songs are sung by an estimated 50 million people in 60 languages.


Grammy-nominated Christian singer Lauren Daigle this week told "Good Morning America" that her single You Say helped a rape victim overcome suicidal thoughts.

Her latest album Look Up Child debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 chart following its release in September, beating out popular mainstream musicians such as Drake, Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj and Cardi B that week.

The lyrics, which speak of having a positive sense of identity through God, are worth sharing with every young person.

YOU SAY

I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I'm not enough
Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up
Am I more than just the sum of every high and every low?
Remind me once again just who I am, because I need to know

You say I am loved when I can't feel a thing
You say I am strong when I think I am weak
You say I am held when I am falling short
When I don't belong, You say I am Yours