(Photo: Acquire the Fire)
Studies show that a large percentage of young Christians drop out of church between high school and age 30 due to issues with their faith, but the founder of Teen Mania Ministries is hoping to draw them back in with a unique, nationwide experience called SURGE.
The plan, according to Teen Mania Ministries (TMM) President Ron Luce, is to reach young people living in nearly every state by delivering an interactive theatrical experience on over 400 screens on Oct. 9 and 16 that features inspirational messages, comedy from John Gray, and musical performances by Casting Crowns, Newsboys, Lecrae and Acquire The Fire worship artists.
"We are excited to be able to bring SURGE to movie screens across the country," said Luce in a press statement. "Through our Acquire The Fire events over the past 20 years, we have brought together millions of teens looking for great music and inspiration. In SURGE, we have assembled some of the best Christian talent in music and comedy to create a night of fun and inspiration that is totally different and easily accessible to young people in movie theaters everywhere."
Luce pointed to a 2013 report from Barna Group, an evangelical Christian research and resource company, on the nation's "spiritually homeless youth," 18-29-year-olds who identify with Christianity but have encountered road blocks with their faith and/or churches.
"In fact, between high school and turning 30, 43 percent of these once-active Millennials drop out of regular church attendance — that amounts to eight million twentysomethings who have, for various reasons, given up on church or Christianity," according to the study.
While TMM's Acquire The Fire's annual live event and conference has been catering to young Christians in similar ways for the past 25 years, Luce believes that "by coming to the neighborhoods where young people live, in movie theaters where they already are, SURGE breaks through this apathy by bringing hope, fun, and inspiration to an already exciting and familiar environment."
Some of the issues to be discussed during SURGE include bullying, school violence, drug use and depression.
"It's designed to empower teens to not only face their fears with courage and hope that can only be found in Jesus, but to impact the world around them for the Gospel," Luce shared in an announcement on his TMM blog.
In addition, the TMM founder hopes SURGE will "bring encouragement to hundreds of thousands of teens who would otherwise never step foot into a church building" — which popular crossover artists like Lecrae and Casting Crowns are likely to attract.
Grammy Award-winning rapper Lecrae, reportedly currently working on his Church Clothes 2 mixed tape, shared that he plans to premiere a new song at the October youth event.
"We have worked together with Acquire The Fire for many years, so when I learned about SURGE, I could not think of a better platform to release my new song," said Lecrae. "This is going to be such a great event and I am sure people will leave energized."
Casting Crowns's Mark Hall also expressed optimism about the nationwide event.
"When Ron told me about his vision for SURGE, I was in before he even finished talking," said Hall. "We both are deeply passionate about inspiring the youth of today, so the SURGE platform and its distribution in movie theaters just made sense to me. People are going to love what we have planned for them."
Teen Mania Ministries, founded in 1986, says its mission "to provoke a young generation to passionately pursue Jesus Christ and to take his life-giving message to the ends of the Earth."
More information about SURGE, such as theater locations and ticket prices, can be found at SurgeExperience.com.