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Homosexual rights activists gain influence in public schools (10/17/04)

Church’s prayer births children’s ministry (10/17/04)

Partner program revitalizes dying church (10/10/04)

Church music festival attracts variety of visitors (10/10/04)

Churches urge compassion for alienated smokers (9/19/04)

Youth ride wooden waves in church parking lots (9/12/04)

A/G, COGIC join forces through inner-city campus (9/12/04)

Christians respond to victimized women and children (8/29/04)

Growing slavic church shares new facility (8/29/04)

Couple embarks on capitol prayer tour (8/29/04)

ADHD requires multifaceted treatment approach (8/22/04)

Small congregation grows — by planting churches (8/22/04)

‘Under God’ stays in Pledge of Allegiance, at least for now (8/8/04)

Church reaches out to those feeling loss (8/8/04)

Churches act pre-emptively to reduce risk of abuse (7/25/04)

Credit cards ensnare record number of Americans (7/25/04)

Church helps out with donated CD, recycled buses (7/25/04)

New wave of pastors minister to emerging adults (7/18/04)

‘Walking Witnesses’ raise thousands for missions (7/18/04)

Healing center offers alternative medicine (7/18/04)

Growing number of Hispanics impact economy (7/11/04)

'Busy' couple finds time for compassion ministry (7/11/04)

Hand-copied Bible leaves 40-year legacy (7/11/04)

Pastor ends hunger strike when strip club promises to sell (6/27/04)

‘Military survival kit’ requests inundate A/G (6/27/04)

Fourth of July outreach draws thousands (6/27/04)

Drivers warned to steer clear of distractions (6/27/04)

Pastors face more counseling demands (6/20/04)

Church uses touch of ‘flavor’ to reach community (6/20/04)

Outrageous self-expression often starts, stops at home (6/13/04)

Runner raises $5,200 for Convoy of Hope (6/13/04)

Euphemisms tempt Christians to conveniently shed sin, guilt (5/30/04)

Funds for Easter play buy groceries instead (5/30/04)

Identity theft threatens millions of Americans (5/23/04)

Spanish speakers face challenges, opportunities in United States culture (5/16/04)

Health experts implore Americans to get fit (5/9/04)

Leaders say Christian faith stems recidivism (4/25/04)

Riders feel at home in Orlando sanctuary (4/18/04)

Churches try to keep human touch with new media (4/11/04)

Christians see Passion as ministry opportunity (3/28/04)

Tutoring improves lives, opens doors for evangelism (3/21/04)

Cybertheft costly — especially for Christians (3/14/04)

A/G women seize new ministry opportunities (2/29/04)

Investment in early spiritual maturity reaps rewards (2/22/04)

Christian families respond to foster care opportunities (2/15/04)

Childless couples grapple with emotional roller coaster, faith challenges (2/8/04)

Few men seek help from abortion grief, guilt (1/18/04)

Women who answer God's call provide valuable local ministries (1/11/04)

2003 PE Report stories

Frontline Reports

2002 PE Report stories

2001 News Digest stories

2000 News Digest stories

Youth ride wooden waves in church parking lots

By Jeanette Gardner Littleton (9/12/04)

“Whenever you’re reaching out to more kids, it can get messy,” says youth pastor Jon Purkey of Lenexa (Kan.) Christian Center. “But in the overall spectrum it’s worth it to save someone from hell.”

The Assemblies of God congregation was one of the earliest ones to embrace what is now a trend in the Christian world — reaching out to church kids who love skateboarding, or to unchurched skateboarders who are tempted by the expansive church parking lot. Staff at some churches are irritated by teens grinding on the rails or stair-bashing. But others, including LCC, are drawing droves of professional wannabes into their churches.

Though the first skateboards entered the scene in 1959, skating has finally become a major extreme sport. Skateboard superstar Tony Hawk has filled arenas and other venues to the tune of a half-billion-dollar industry. Skateboarding has become a huge subculture in North America.

Accordingly, ministries and Christian businesses are creatively skating into the deep end. Among them:

The Luis Palau Evangelistic Association builds 9,000-square-foot, temporary skate parks at the organization’s outreaches.

An entire church in Portland, Ore., is designed for skaters.

Summer camp programs include skateboarding along with other high-adrenalin adventures.

King of Kings Skateboard Ministry, which also creates a line of skate wear, takes a demo team around the country proclaiming the gospel and displaying incredible stunts.

Steelroots Media Industry produces a weekly Christian TV show on skateboarding and snowboarding.

LCC’s skating ministry started somewhat by chance. Purkey was building some ramps for his own use when the project expanded and eventually became a church outreach. Now hundreds of skateboarders from across the Kansas City metro area enjoy the park before and after youth group every week. The church also sponsors competitions, and 3,000 young people attended when it brought in skater Jamie Thomas.

Offering a skater ministry isn’t easy. City ordinances prohibit LCC from building a concrete park, so twice a year the church replaces wooden structures that are deteriorated by weather and heavy use. A good ramp system might cost thousands of dollars. And though plenty of Christian young adults are interested in skating, such a ministry may also reach a tougher customer — people who might smoke, use profanity, dress inappropriately or do other things unchurched young people sometimes do.

But Purkey says Christians need to keep the big picture in mind. “We use a lot of different bait to reach out to teens with the gospel,” he says. “Especially in the skateboard community, we found kids who are agnostics or atheists.”

Assemblies of God National Youth Director Tom Greene says an increasing number of youth pastors are choosing to use skating as a way to attract non-Christians.

“We’ve yet to see what can happen as the result of this kind of ministry,” Greene says. “Many people who might have been hesitant to use this ministry in the past are just beginning to see that this can work in their communities.”

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