By Sharon Mager, BCM/D Correspondent
TANEYTOWN, Md.— Taneytown Church is using skateboarding and dodgeball to reach kids for Christ.
The church had a dodgeball outreach last year in a local middle school. At least 75 kids showed up to make 12 teams. Justin Hanneken, youth pastor, shared his salvation testimony with students and parents and was amazed at how God blessed.
“As I read the response cards I was just overwhelmed,” Hanneken said. “They poured their hearts out,” Hanneken said. They shared about family break ups and many other personal problems.
Fourteen youth made confessions of faith in Jesus and seven indicated they wanted to know more. One student wanted to be baptized. Forty-four wrote that they were already saved.
“It was really an amazing event,” Hanneken said.
Taneytown sponsored the tournament in cooperation with another local evangelical church, Uniontown Bible Church and three parachurch organizations: Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Wyldlife, and Youth For Christ Campus Life. This was the second event of this kind that Taneytown Church has done in their community in the past year.
Tim Byer, minister of recreation, Faith Church, Glen Burnie, and a friend of Hanneken’s came to run the bracketing and logistics. After explaining the rules, the teams played for an hour and a half. Afterwards Hanneken shared his testimony and the plan of salvation. The evening concluded with a tournament and presentation of custom trophies, medals and Chick-Fil-A gift cards to the winners.
Representatives from each church and organization looked over the decision cards and decided on the best way to follow up.
Hanneken is thrilled with the results of the outreach and the partnership with the other organizations. He’s looking forward to future cooperation and outreach.
Taneytown youth’s group has been growing. It started when a skater got saved.
Hanneken and his wife, Karena, began working with the youth ministry a little over five years ago. At that time there were four kids. In two years, they grew to about a dozen kids. A skater named Shane came to Taneytown and went with the youth group to Acquire the Fire, a large ecumenical evangelical youth event. Shane got saved and developed a passion to reach his friends for Christ. He brought two skater friends, Josh and Andy, and they too got saved and began wanting to reach their friends.
“Pretty soon we had 12 to 15 skaters in our parking lot,” Hanneken said.
Seeing the possibilities, Hanneken began taking the kids to local skate parks in and around Maryland and Pennsylvania.
“I told the kids, ‘we’re going to keep doing this every month…and we’re going to share the gospel with the friends you bring.’” Hanneken explained.
They found an indoor Christian skating facility called, The Underground, in Dillsburg, Pa., and recently hosted an all-night skating party there. Over 40 kids attended.
“I am not a skater,” Hanneken chuckled. “The kids laugh at me. I’m horrible at it,’” he admitted.
Actually, Hanneken said there was a time he did “ollies” and “popshuvits” but after a bad fall, he shelved the board. But it doesn’t matter, he stressed, you don’t have to skate to have a skating ministry.
“God used skateboarding to grow the ministry and he’s using dodgeball to expand it,” Hanneken said.