PORT ORANGE—The parking lot at First Port Orange United Methodist Church looks pretty much like any other. There are spaces for cars, and a basketball hoop.
|Players circle up for a quick prayer.|
If you look closer though, that’s not always a neighborhood game going on around that basket. It’s a Fresh Expression church, complete with basketballs, pizza, Holy Scripture, prayer and young people of all races learning that worship doesn’t have to happen only on Sunday morning inside a building.
It’s the brainchild of Todd and Brittany Leclair, with the idea of bringing the people from the community together around something they like to do and slowly exposing them to Christ. While in the early stages of development, this simple Fresh Expression has incredible potential.
Todd believed his passion for basketball could turn into a true life-changing experience for others, creating the unity of brotherhood and sisterhood through play. After about a year of thinking it over, he decided it could be a successful outreach.
His wife, Brittany—a candidate for ordained UMC ministry—said the venture was launched in March, right around the time of NCAA March Madness, when basketball interest is high.
“We were not really sure if it would work, but my husband Todd and I decided we would just go all in,” she said.
“We picked a day and time that would work for our schedule and prayed people would show up. So far, every Thursday they have.”
It attracts about 20 people weekly, and they run the gamut—from people who have to work on Sundays, to people who have been burned by church to those who never had an interest in learning about God.
“So, here we are bringing the church to a parking lot once a week by eating a meal together, praying and sharing life through basketball,” Brittany said.
|This Fresh Expression proves that there are opportunities for ministry everywhere, even in a parking lot.|
“My hope is that each person that walks off of our court will have experienced the love of God and know they don't ever have to go through life alone.”
The outreach needed a name that would be distinctive enough to attract people. Brittany found one while driving to class one morning at Bethune-Cookman University: Rebound.
“God said to me, ‘Teach them they are loved. Teach them how to rebound.’ I wasn't really sure what that meant,” she said.
It tied in to a lesson her father taught her long ago.
“You see, growing up I played basketball all through elementary and middle school and my dad taught me the importance of going up for the rebound, while instilling in me not to be afraid to get knocked down or take an elbow to the nose in the process,” she said.
“Which is exactly the forefront of our Fresh Expression. I realized after multiple conversations with God that I'm definitely not the only one who’s had some hard hits from life, and that’s exactly what Rebound is about—learning to keep Christ in the center when life knocks us down.”
—Joe Henderson is a freelance writer based in Brandon.