What an amazing turn out we had for our First Park Night!
Our dream for Park Night was to have a cookout and play games at the park down the street from where we meet to create an engaging fun and relaxed atmosphere where we could get to know our community and introduce ourselves. This was our team’s first community engagement event and it was a total success.
Let me elaborate on the word “success” for a moment. Did we know what to fully expect–no. Did we have last minute adjustments and processes to work through on the spot–absolutely. Are there things that we will tweak and do differently next time–of course! But was every encounter, conversation, and introduction orchestrated by God–YES! That is where our success is measured; in allowing God to love on His people through us. Our whole team did a great job of illuminating God’s hope and love through conversations, games, and serving.
I had the pleasure of being at the head of the serving table most of the time and introducing myself to all that came through. I was able to ask their names and how they heard about our event, and I believe that no matter how they found us, I knew the why. We were able to meet people from all walks of life. Those who were already Christians and looking for a church, Christians already attending and happy at their church, those who found themselves wondering about God, and those who probably didn’t care either way. Regardless, we wanted to meet them all, and simply show them God’s love. I heard stories of people’s hurts and pains, and was able to encourage and let them know that if and when they are ever ready, as a church we would love to support them and grow with them.
Another of my favorite moments was walking through the park where parents were watching their children on the playground and asking them if they had eaten yet, or were thirsty and needed a drink. My favorite answers were, “Oh, we aren’t apart of the cookout”. To my delight, my answer was “Yes you are–it’s for everyone! Please feel free to get you and your family something to eat and drink.” To me, that was the most beautiful display of God’s love. Often we don’t feel apart, or invited, or even worthy of the love that God offers. I believe we were able to show that all are invited to experience God’s love that night.
We have already begun to see growth in our weekly gathering from those we met at Park Night. I am praying, and fully expect that we will continue to see growth and a ripple effect from this event. I believe that each person was there on purpose, for the purpose of being blessed that day, possibly through the meal, the drinks, the games, the conversations, but mostly because God was there, loving all his children at the park.
I am so thankful that I was there to see it and I, myself, was invited to partake in God’s outpouring of love at Park Night. THANK YOU for praying with us!
Administrator/Host Team Leader | Illuminate Church