Wheels and Witness: Skateboard Ministry

When Lake Pointe Church in Rockwall, Texas was making plans to design their state-of-the-art youth facility, they asked their student ministry what it would take to get their non-Christian friends into church. 
Their ideas were incorporated into a 50,000-square-foot beach house called “Pier 419,” which is modeled after Matthew 4:19, where Jesus said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
Pier 419 is a teenager’s dream hangout.  There’s a pool hall, indoor and outdoor basketball courts, sand volleyball court, video games and a cafe.  But their hottest attraction is the skate park.  Lake Pointe’s student ministry team felt this would be a powerful tool for outreach.  And they were right. 
Every Tuesday from 5 to 9 p.m., Lake Pointe’s student ministry associate becomes the “skate pastor” for a radical new ministry, called “skate church.”  It’s not your typical church service.  A Bible study begins at 5 p.m., and skaters are required to attend before they can use the park. 
“We cannot expect lost kids to act like Christians,” Seelig says. “You never know what type of life these kids have. Some of the strongest Christians in the ministry today are kids who cussed me out the first time I met them, a year ago. A lot of these kids don’t have a connection to anything. They are not the jocks, cheerleaders or praised students. Most of them have nothing except their skater image and their little niche of other skaters. That is where we have come in. 
“We have been blown away by the community we have built among this subculture. This place has become a refuge and a home to so many of these kids. The city has had tons of problems with skaters in the last two years. They have been kicked out of everywhere. We are pretty much the only place around that has not kicked them out. Building a skate park has blown these kids away. They just want someone to care about them, and that’s what we have done.”
Seelig says this ministry has been effective in reaching youth for Christ because “we do not hide our message or purpose.”
“Kids want adults to be real with them. The skate park is being as real as possible, meeting them where they are. That is pretty much the definition of an effective ministry, meeting people where they are.  I am not talking about just their lifestyle, like skateboarding. I am talking about where they are in their spiritual journey.”
About 120 youth attend skate church each week, and more than 30 youth have made professions of faith in Jesus Christ. 
“Because of the skater culture, a response in faith is quite powerful to see,” Seelig says. “We have our baptisms right next to the skate park, and that is a big statement. In front of all the other skaters, these kids are proclaiming their new faith in Christ.” 
This innovative ministry has not only given these teenagers a place to belong, but it has also given them a life-changing message of Christ’s love. 
“The skate park has bridged a gap to so many of the fringe kids of society,” Seelig says. “We are trying to be a model of love and welcome everyone. That is an encouragement to other fringe kids, who might feel out of place at most youth groups. This gives a very Biblical view to our church and youth. We are not a holy huddle, but we are concerned and passionate about the lost. 
“If we could get our youth as extreme for God as these kids are for skateboarding, that would be powerful. That is why skaters are prime candidates for passionately living believers.”
Leann Callaway is a Dallas-based freelance writer.


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