The grand opening for the new Skateside skate park, a project of Young Community in partnership with teen radio station Q90, that took place on May 14 in the Green Bay area of Wisconsin will open up another way for teenagers to meet Christ. On May 15, Skateside is continuing to celebrate its opening with video game contests.
Approximately 175-200 people attended the grand opening ceremony. The President of Young Community James Sutton, the president of Ashwaubenon Village Community, and a representative for the mayor of Green Bay officiated the opening by cutting the ribbon.
One of the speakers for the event was Mike LeMay of Q90, which helped in rallying fundraising efforts and promote the opening of Skateside to the community and its 23,000 listeners. LeMay talked about the importance of reaching teens and providing a positive environment for teens.
Skateside first opened in a warehouse with only the skate park on Jan. 31 this year. Since then, a snack/coffee bar, video game area, and other recreational facilities have been added to create a fully equipped teen hang-out center.
However, the vision of Skateside is not just to be a place where teens have fun but “to attract teenagers and lead them into a relationship with Christ,” said Sutton.
He said there is not many people reaching out to teens who do not attend church. Therefore, Skateside and other teen centers established by Young Community is a response to that void.
“Someone’s gotta get into their world and churches don’t do that,” Sutton said, explaining how some churches “only want to build walls and stay there.” He said the biggest challenge was to get churches involved and help fund the project.
Although Young Community reaches out to teens, it’s ultimate goal is to feed the local churches with people, according to Young Community’s president.
“God promised to bless the church and church is where the gates of hell won’t prevail,” he said.
Sixteen missionaries are on staff at Young Community’s Skateside skate park to use “friendship evangelism” and develop trusting relationships with the average 125-150 teens who come. They also offer Bible studies, discipleship, and lead Sunday Night Worship at Skateside where 20-50 teens have been attending.
In the past four months, Sutton said 200 teens have come to Christ through Young Community’s efforts. Aside from Skateside in Wisconsin, Young Community has teen centers in Texas and Tennessee. It has been mandated outreaches in 32 states this past year. Teens can receive advice from it’s internet outreach (youngcommunity.com). New developments include a new skate park in Hallifax, Canada, three additional teen centers in Wisconsin, and another skate park in Minnesota.
Why build skate parks? “Skateboard is huge. It’s going to be a regular sport in the next Olympics,” commented Sutton on the popularity of the sport.
Three music evangelism teams and a drama teams sponsored by the inter-denominational non-profit also tour the nation and out reach to teens.
Despite its efforts to plant centers, most centers raised by Young Community are eventually turned over to local churches.
Sutton said, “If I were to come up with a motto for Young Community, I would say ‘Lead teens to Christ and plug them into a local youth group’.”