Jason had been praying for one convert in the year 2013. Just one.
On December 30, 2013, he was sitting in his office at Suntree Grace Brethren Church in Melbourne, Fla., when there was a knock on the church door.
“It was a neighbor of one of the families in our church,” he explained. “She said, ‘Jason you don’t know me, but …I need religion.’
‘You don’t need religion,’ I told her. ‘You need Jesus.’”
And that’s when God answered the final request on his 2013 prayer list.
That’s only one of the stories that Jason Brown, senior pastor at Suntree Grace Brethren Church has about what God has been doing in his church and community. It all started the day he chased down a tenth grader in the parking lot.
In early 2013, a member donated a skate park to the church. Positioned in a thriving community with an active skateboard and surf culture, the congregation began to brainstorm ways to develop this sizable gift into a ministry.
“One day during church office hours, there were some high school kids skating in the parking lot,” explained Brown. “We ran out to meet them and they started running away! We chased them down and explained that someone donated a skate park and we’re looking for people to use it.”
That event – and the people they met that day – was the seed for a ministry to teenagers that blossomed into a unique surfing and skating community and the linchpin for the growth of ministry at Suntree Church. Melbourne is located on Florida’s Space Coast, with close proximity to the Atlantic Ocean.
The club meets on Wednesday nights for fun and fellowship. “Our objective on Wednesdays is primarily discipleship,” said Brown. “We skate at 5 p.m. and at 6 we meet inside for a Bible study, walking some of the young people through the basics of biblical beliefs. On Saturdays, if the waves are good, we will surf and if the waves are bad we will go fishing.”
With this ministry as the seed, Suntree Grace Brethren has experienced growth, numerically and otherwise. But, as Pastor Brown is quick to tell you, it’s not about the numbers.
“Our objective isn’t to grow into a monstrosity but rather to reproduce some of the small church attraction in other areas around Melbourne,” he stressed. They planted their first church last year.
“Because our numbers grew so rapidly, we put two men in our church on track for leadership development, but I also see massive opportunities for planting a series of churches that are neighborhood-oriented.
“We decided to keep our church a blank piece of paper. We look for ways to follow wherever Jesus is going instead of running ahead of him. It’s to highlight the work that Jesus has done in the body of believers rather than the body of our building.”