Skate Church: A New Way to Reach Pre-Teens

There is a growing number of creative ministries targeting social groups, including the youth. One such ministry is Head of the Lakes, Youth For Christ, which bought an indoor skateboard arena to outreach to the neighborhood's children.

Mark Pavola, Executive Director of Head of the Lakes Youth for Christ, oversees 'The Encounter' - a building that boasts an auditorium for concerts, a gym for social activities, and the only indoor skateboard park in Duluth, Arizona.

"Skateboarding is a pretty popular activity right now," said Pavola. "So we figure that if we could get our own skateboarding park, then we could reach out to a lot of [the children] and share the message with Christ with this tool that we have."

According to Pavola, there are 20,000 children in the neighborhood, most of whom are unchurched.

This is exciting, he said, because they are "breaking new ground."

On Thursdays, children gather at 'The Encounter' for 'Skate Church' -- a new way to share the gospel with pre-teen youth.

At Skate Church, the youth play skateboarding games and contests, eat food and hear a devotional message.

While most of the children who come to Skate Church are not Christian, some of them eventually begin discipleship training and come to Bible studies on Sundays at 'The Encounter.'

According to Duluth News Tribune, Cody Mjolsness, 16, said if it weren't for Skate Church he'd be "running around getting in trouble."

"We can ask questions about things we aren't sure about," he said to the Tribune.

According to Pavola, the ministry has been successful in discipleship because it focuses on building relationships.

"We know that we are getting into the lives of a lot of people who don't know Christ," said Pavola. "We don't base it upon numbers, even though we do have a lot of kids that come through. We evaluate it based on the number of people who have relationships.

"We want them to put their faith in Christ, but we [also] want them to be discipled and grow in their faith. We're not just making converts; it's about making disciples," said Pavola.

Pavola feels it has been "a privilege and an honor" to serve at 'The Encounter'.

"We purchased this big building just three years ago. We didn't have any experience, money, or anything," he said.

"God was pretty amazing to provide… We still don't know how we did it."