What Skateboarding Taught Me About Missions
Both the skater and the missionary see the world with different eyes.
My first skateboard was tiny, green with yellow wheels, and had a picture of ALF on the bottom. At 16, a skate park was my first exposure to ministry.
During high school I met Jesus. At the church I got connected into, I met an old man named Bill. Unlike myself, Bill didn’t skate, but he was a carpenter with a calling to start a skateboarding ministry. Bill built my friends and me several ramps and rails to skate on. Over time, more and more kids started showing up to skate with us. During our time together we would hang out, and a group of us would preach the gospel in our makeshift skate park.
So what does skating have to do with living on mission for Jesus? Everything.
Beyond skate parks, I loved street skating in public. (Though God convicted me a while ago that I should not street skate any more since the Bible says that we are to obey the laws of the land.) To street skate well you need to have two things: guts and an eye for a good spot to skate.
Even to this day, regardless of the city or occasion, I can’t help but see certain stairs, gaps, rails, ledges, and curbs and think, I’d love to skate that. Of course, now that I’m 32, a husband, dad, pastor, professor, and a student, I don’t have as much time to skateboard like I used to, but lessons I learned while skateboarding still continue to influence my life. Skateboarding was in my blood for so long it’s practically conditioning.
This is how the mind of a missional Christian works: it changes the way you see your city.
You drive around town by yourself or with a friend, and, rather than seeing spots to skate, you see people and think, who could that person be and what could that person do in Christ?
This means that when you see the guy outside smoking pot, you don’t judge him, but rather pray for, think about, and, yes, befriend him. You do this with the intention of sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with him and one day seeing him or her as a leader in your church.
You see the prostitute on the street corner and think, that woman needs the love and grace of Jesus. One day I think she could do an excellent job leading our women’s midweek study.
You see a street painter or musician and think, he or she could lead us in corporate worship on Sundays, write our liturgy, or create a piece of art to decorate our building.
You see certain buildings and think, what kind of worship service, event, or church plant could we pull off in this place?
This is how missionaries think: nothing is to be wasted. Everyone can be redeemed by Jesus and used by him for his purposes and glory.
I never thought as a youth that something I loved to do would have such an influence on me, but this is how skateboarding helped to change how I literally see the world in my everyday mission for Jesus.