Teens line up for Indianapolis church "lock-in" to combat violence

Hundreds of teens lined up to participate.
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It might be the last place you'd think to find hundreds of teens trying to get inside - with some even trying to sneak in when they were turned away. But that's just the situation Light of the World Christian Church faced Friday when they hosted an overnight for teens at the church.

The folks at Light of the World Church say they've never seen anything like it: Hundreds of teens lined up outside their doors, waiting to get into church on a Friday night.

"You would have thought it was a Lil' Wayne concert. Honestly, if you had walked up you would have said, 'Wow, they've got 'Lil Wayne or Jay-Z because that's what it looked like," said Pastor Anderson White, Light of the World Church.

But 'Lil Wayne and Jay-Z were nowhere to be found. There were just 600 Indianapolis teens, some from rival gangs, under one roof.

"There's a lot of people that see a gang member and they're like, 'Hey, shut the doors,'" said Pastor White.

Instead, Pastor White pushed the doors wide open.

"'You could see it in their eyes that they were looking for something different," he said.

Many found it locked inside the church on Michigan Road, insulated for 12 hours from the violence that for some has become part of their everyday lives.

"A lot of these kids are in that lifestyle gangs or whatever, because they don't know any better," said White. "I mean, that's just what they know." 

That's not what they saw at the lock-in, though.

"This is not a party. This is not a rave. This is church," said Morgan Bouldes, Light of the World Church.

But it's not church how you might think of it.

"You're not going to get a whole bunch of people storming, trying to get in here if we're just going to be preached to," said Bouldes.

There was food, movies, a basketball game and a message.

"If you leave here and take the ability to choose to love your brother, love your sister that the fun you had tonight and the love you felt tonight, you can have every day," said Pastor White.

Some left the lock-in only to be reminded of the challenges in their own neighborhoods.

"I think the next day, there was like three more homicides, the day after the lock-in, and a stabbing," the pastor said. "We know the real work is day to day. One event's not going to change the community."

Hoping to build on a good thing, church leaders say they're planning another lock-in for the end of the school year. They're going to choose a much bigger venue to accommodate all the youth they hope will attend.