Taking the Church to the Skateboarders in the Community

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Why go to skate parks?

The Sk8Church ministry is important because it takes the gospel to a culture who doesn’t have a positive relationship with the church. Many times skateboarders see churches as places where they get chased away from when skateboarding on their sidewalks. They see Christians as the kids at school who are as hypocritical as everyone else. The skate park is their safe haven and fellow skaters are their family. The Sk8Church ministry’s purpose is to invade that home and become a part of that family.

For Sk8Church Ministry, this means going to the skate park once a week to be amongst the skaters. The initial connection with them comes through food. Each week bring pizza, sandwiches, tacos, cookies, etc. With each interaction of handing out a piece of pizza comes introductions to who you are and what you are doing. The food aspect may evolve to purchasing a food trailer and serving regular items like popcorn and snow cones. The food trailer may become a trademark of the Sk8Church Ministry.

Being the hands (that pass out cookies) and feet (that pick up trash) of Jesus at the skate park is not enough. Other gospel-centered attempts include brining the message to skaters through short devotional times where skaters are invited to come to the trailer to hear a quick story, praying aloud over the loudspeaker before we leave for the evening, hosting competitions where the gospel is presented while skaters wait for prizes to be thrown into the crowd. The key for Sk8Church Ministry is not falling into a bait-and-switch routine. You should not try to lure them in with food and prizes. You want genuine relationships with the skaters. Another  option is writing questions on their snow cone cups like, “What’s the best thing about you?” or “How can I pray for you?” and asking them to answer their question when you hand them their snow cone. Starting these conversations leads to relationships that you should pray will lead to sharing of the gospel.

Are training sessions available?

Having started and maintained a skate ministry before (2008-2012), Central Baptist Church had some experience with what to do and what not to do. A lot of our decisions were based on what went wrong in the past and how to improve. Our APEPT training was critical in determining our roles. The initial meetings the APEPT team had were not always pretty. We soon realized we were dealing with an infant ministry that needed time to grow, that needed trial and error, and that needed a team and not just a pastor. The APEPT team included a high school skater who had great perspective on the skateboarding culture. Additionally it was composed of three couples who had a hand in Central’s earlier version of skate church as well as a new couple who was involved in the youth ministry.

How can our church partner with the SK8 Church Network?

Taking the words, actions, and attitudes of Christ to a skate park is easier if you bring food. Sk8Church Owasso has a strong partnership with its church, Central Baptist. The partnership involves small groups who adopt Sk8Church for a week by providing food and even helping serve the food at every week. The partnership has also benefited Sk8Church because of financial donations by church members. Recently, Sk8Church was allotted money in the coming year’s budget as well. The members support Sk8Church when they come to competitions to show the skaters some fresh faces and the huge presence of people who love skaters.

Partnerships outside of the church are just as important. Sk8Church Owasso looks for opportunities to sponsor skate competitions around Tulsa and Owasso. Since our members willingly donate money, we volunteer to provide all the pizza and water at a competition for instance; this gives Sk8Church exposure to a broader skate community and opportunities to partner with other vendors at the competition. Our local skateboarding shop has also been instrumental in letting us advertise in their store and donating merchandise for competitions we host.

How do we network with skateboarders?

The skateboarder on the APEPT team networks with skateboarding organizations as well as other skate churches in the area. He is our strongest link to the skateboarding community and helps guide how we can get involved and the best people to network with. This is challenging because different skate ministries obviously do things differently. Some have elaborate facilities and full-time skate pastors while others are a simple group of youth workers trying to get skaters to come to their church. However, networking is key since we are all serving the same purpose.