Skateboarding Ministries: Consider the Cost

Across the nation, churches are inviting local kids to “ollie”, “boardslide”, and “grind” in their parking lots, then stick around to hear the gospel.

Since the original Skatechurch in Portland, Oregon, moved from a parking lot to a building in 1996, thousands of public and private skate parks have opened throughout the country. Some of them are church-owned.

What Goes Up Must Come Down

One of your first steps is to determine if your insurance company will even insure the activity. “From an insurance perspective, the problem with skate parks is that they are designed for people to leave the ground,” says Dave Lantz, vice president of claims at Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company.

“Unfortunately, what goes up must come down,” Lantz said. “Most kids who ride skateboards aren’t professionals, so falls and injuries are inevitable.”

Preserve Safety and Outreach

If you plan to open a skateboard park, suggest that the ministry take the following precautions to protect skateboarders’ safety and the vitality of your ministry:

  • Have professionals build the park.
  • Require at least two adults to monitor the park during hours of operation.
  • Mandate helmets, knee, and elbow pads.
  • Insist on permission slips and written waivers of liability signed by skateboarders’ parents before use, with proof of health insurance.
  • Keep ramps and equipment in good repair.
  • Post signs that include the following warnings:
    • “Skate at your own risk.”
    • “Not responsible for injury.”
    • “This activity is considered hazardous.”
    • “This area is not intended for use outside the hours of normal operation.”
  • Lock or dismantle the skate park when no one is there to monitor it. Consider these options:
    • Install portable equipment and take it down between uses.
    • Place locked chains over each piece.
    • Fence in the equipment.

Skateboarding can be a powerful launching pad for youth ministry, but it can carry a heavy price. Consider the cost carefully and plan ahead for safety before skating into this ministry field.