Throughout the summer, churches have turned sanctuaries, basements, and social halls into stomping grounds for summer programs. Hammond (Ind.) Christian Reformed Church uses its parking lot.
The church, which is next to a number of apartment buildings, uses its Parking Lot Ministry to welcome the surrounding community. For five weeks each summer, Hammond CRC offers games, activities, and food. There is even a moon bounce house. “Once the kids see the bounce house going up,” Pastor John Kostelyk said, “they come running.”
This summer, a crowd of anywhere from 60 to 100 people showed up each week, including kids of all ages.The Parking Lot Ministry committee chose a theme for each night and picked crafts and activities based on that theme. One evening’s theme was animals; activities included a petting zoo, pony cart rides, and a pet contest.
The evening’s activities also included a children’s message. For example, Kostelyk’s wife once brought in a bantam hen with baby chicks peeking out from its feathers. She then shared Psalm 91:4 with the children, explaining that just as a mother hen will protect and care for her babies, God cares for all of his children.
Donald Dykstra, a member of the Parking Lot Ministry committee, said, “God has blessed our parking lot outreach the past several years. The activities attract an ethnically diverse group of children and adults. The love of Jesus has been demonstrated each summer in a variety of ways as our community neighbors enjoy a fun time together.”
Kostelyk agreed these events have established trust within the community. “[These activities] open the door to getting to know our neighbors on a deeper level. As friendships are formed, we pray that this will one day lead to their joining us at other activities like Coffee Break, Bible study, and Sunday worship.”
About the Author
Callie Feyen is a writer living in Ann Arbor, Mich. She attends First Presbyterian Church of Ann Arbor. Callie writes news for The Banner and contributes to Coffee+Crumbs, and T.S. Poetry Press. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing and is the author of The Teacher Diaries: Romeo and Juliet, and Twirl: My Life in Stories, Writing, & Clothes.