90 Second Interview
Phil Williams - Christian Surfers / Skaters
"Mission, to me, is about breaking pre-conceived ideas about what a Christian is and what a Christian isn’t, and getting out of the Church building into the Community.”
Who are you and what do you do?
I am one of the youth group leaders in our local church in Nailsea, I’m the European Director of Christian Surfers and I also run Christian Skaters in the UK. We are part of HOPE.
What do you spend time doing in your ministry?
I ensure that we put on well-run events and can contribute expertise. We have a mobile skate park which we take to local community events or use alongside surfing competitions. We have run a Christian Skating event for the last four years which sees a skate park set up inside the 850 year old Malmesbury Abbey - one of the oldest church buildings – for relevant and creative outreach. As Christian Surfers, we hold numerous contests and festivals including Jesus Surf Classic, which has been running for 19 years. We love to witness through serving and supporting the mainstream UK surfing community. We might run a contest to bring communities together in an area like we do with South East Cornwall’s ‘Ice Cube’ Surf contest. Also serving the UK pro surfing tour with anything from serving tea and coffee, to beach marshalling or even judging, is great. As a result, incredible doors open up.
How do you use your passions to do mission?
It’s important to reach people using something you are passionate about and be transparent. My passions are obviously surfing and skating. I could pretend to be keen on motor cycle engines but I would be seen straight through, as someone who wasn’t being genuine. Being ourselves i
s a key way of establishing relationships and trust. There are no fantastic professional Christian surfers in the UK but there are loads of people with a passion to see fellow surf enthusiasts being reached with the Gospel, and that make a huge impression.
Do you see the effect of your outreach?
Sometimes we see dramatic change. We have been working alongside a key person in British surfing for 12 years and recently he made a decision to live for Christ. Two days later he survived a shark attack !!. However, often we only see 10% of the iceberg above the ‘water’ but God is doing far more beneath which we may never know about.
What’s happening in Nailsea?
Myself and my wife have been doing youth work here for 24 years. Ten years ago we suggested that local churches put on a skate festival as a way to make contact with youth, bring the community together and all these years later this has grown and now we have Scooters, BMX and Rollerbladers as well as skateboarders, DJ’s and live music. ‘Taking Church out of the church.’
What does mission mean to you?
Mission, for me, is about breaking pre-conceived ideas about what a Christian is or isn’t. In order to do that, you have to get to know people and they gradually see what we stand for. What we do gives us permission for what we say. It’s about servanthood. We can’t work in isolation – that’s why I like to link people up, and encourage all our Christian surfer groups around the UK and Europe. When HOPE kicked off in 2008 we were involved and were keen to see this stepped up and outreach continue. I love working with a local community for the benefit of the residents and this also boosts local Church visibility. I‘d encourage anyone to just give mission a go . It’s possible sometimes to incorporate a passion with your passion to share Jesus - whether that is bowling or ballet, surfing or sewing.