Thinking about Skate Church

Its one of those convergence moments. Again. And this time its all about Skate Church.

Convergence Number 1:
This morning I did a skype interview with JR Rozko for the emerging church course at Fuller Seminary. I was discussing the early examples of emerging church in the 1980’s and of course the Skate Church in Portland created a precedent for this kind of church that is now found all over the world. Skate Church was started out of the ministry of Central Bible Church in Portland Oregon in 1987 by Paul and Clint, two crazy Californians who were at school with me at Multnomah. I still remember Clint riding his skateboard all the way to the door of the classroom while the rest of us, staying dignified, just walked.

I still just walk . . .

Convergence Number 2: A few hours ago I had lunch with Doug Clark, pastor of Grace Community Church in Tyler and found out that Doug and I were in Portland the same time. He was working at Central Bible Church, the sponsoring church, when Skate Church emerged.

Skate Church happened because two Californians came up to Portland and got permission and resources to build some ramps for the skateboarders in the area. Their youth pastor was Mark DeYmaz who championed their cause, raised funds, obtained permission and [probably] took some hits from church people who did NOT think having 600 grungy, half-dressed, young skaters taking over their parking lot was a step forward.

I had heard of Mark for over 20 years from my friend and previous boss, Paul Jackson, but had never met him. Until this week . . .

Convergence Number 3: Mark DeYmaz, who is obviously a good friend of Doug Clark, and I finally met three days ago and were chatting about the early days of skate church and other memories until really late.

So I am thinking about skate churches . . .

There are now skate churches all over the world and I think they are one of the best examples of missional contextualization in a western urban context. Same goes for surfer churches and snowboard churches. They all managed to create a space where young people from the skate/surf/snowboard tribe [all distinct, and yet with similarities] were able to hear the message of Jesus in their own language, find some role models who excelled in both their sport AND in following Jesus, begin the Christian journey without having to change out of their clothes, and invite their friends into a Jesus scene in which the only stumbling block had to do with the radicality of the call of God and not with the weird cultural barriers erected by the church that made sense to   previous generation or a previous time.

“Prepare the way for the people.
Build up, build up the highway!
Remove the stones.
Raise a banner for the nations.” Isaiah 62:10


Andrew Jones launched his first internet space in 1997 and has been teaching on related issues for the past 20 years. He travels all the time but lives between Wellington, San Francisco and a hobbit home in Prague.


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