Brandon Sirolli, staff pastor at Sacred Fire Ministries in Belleview, Florida, as well as a detective with the Ocala Police Department, uses skateboarding as a ministry that is transforming young people in Marion County.
It’s called Life Point — also dubbed “Skate Church” by teen and young adult patrons. The first two Saturdays of the month, from 2 to 6 p.m., Sirolli, an ordained Assemblies of God minister, opens up a 10,000 square-foot indoor skate park at One Life Fellowship in Ocala and engages with around 60 skateboarders and BMX (bicycle motocross) riders. He holds a non-mandatory Bible study, which pulls around 20 kids off the ramps. Life Point is primarily about building relationships.
“We don’t shut down the skating; we don’t want the kids to feel forced into the study,” Sirolli says. “That garners respect and response as opposed to them avoiding us altogether during that time frame.”
When the skate park closes, Sirolli, who still skateboards himself, hangs out with the kids outside.
“It’s just building relationships,” Sirolli says. “That’s the primary way to get the gospel through.”
Out of the weekend regulars, Sirolli has formed Team Zao — an inner circle of sorts —that travels to other skate parks around Florida on the third Saturday of every month. Members of this group of 20 have exhibited talent in skating (some have sponsors), but they also are entrusted to help oversee the skate park and hold others accountable.
“This is their home, their family,” says Sirolli.
The trips in the team van give Sirolli and his co-leaders opportunities for incidental ministry, too.
“We have some pretty deep conversations and discuss a lot of Scripture,” Sirolli says.
Consistent, if informal, teaching was a chief condition Pastor Allen Eastin of One Life had when he considered opening up the facility to Sirolli.
“I wanted to be sure this was a gospel-focused ministry,” says Eastin. “After meeting with him, it was clear his end goal was to use this sport to reach young people for Christ.”
Since moving into its permanent facility at One Life in March 2015, Life Point has had numerous breakthroughs. Sirolli shares that a member of Team Zao recently brought his parents to church where the boy’s father accepted Jesus as Savior and his mother recommitted her life. Sirolli also has baptized several skaters.
“Many of our regulars are recovering addicts who are staying sober because of this community,” he adds.
The idea for a skateboarding ministry came to Sirolli in 2013, when fellow youth pastor Lewis Aran invited him to visit a local skate park. Sirolli knew the park from his police work, and every time he drove by he thought God wanted him to do something there.
Aran and Sirolli went to the park on a Wednesday afternoon and started talking to youth.
“Immediately, we saw the hunger these kids had for attention,” Sirolli says.
A few months into these visits, Sirolli learned that the park was about to shut down. That’s when he envisioned a skate park where he could share the gospel, kids would experience salvation, and God would be glorified.
Over the next two years, Sirolli, Aran, and others formed a nonprofit, secured liability insurance, and acquired ramps and rails at no cost. In early 2015, Sirolli was setting up ramps on Saturdays in the Ocala Police Department’s parking lot. That’s when Sirolli met Eastin and learned about the warehouse space. Life Point has been growing ever since.
“It’s a privilege to connect the passion of my youth with my passion for ministry,” Sirolli says.