Church in the Park Emphasizes Friendship

A few weeks before the Sept. 11 tragedy, Nampa, Idaho, members determined to reach their community through friendship evangelism. Their plan was to "turn the church inside out" by conducting an outdoor praise and worship service. After "prayerwalking" the neighborhood, the big day came and more than 200 worshipers attended, including more than 20 non-members. Since then, Praise in the Park has become an annual event.

The third annual Praise in the Park community worship service was held this year on Aug. 2. After more than a week of triple-digit temperatures, God provided cooling cloud cover—an answer to prayer three years in a row. This year, however, the prayers included a request to hold back the rain even as sprinkles began to fall. Once again, God blessed. The more than 170 who were present, including numerous guests from the non-Adventist community, sat in cool, dry comfort under the trees.

The service featured fine music, testimonies from two recently baptized young men, a Vacation Bible School graduation and a brief message by Ervin Furne, pastor.

A potluck lunch served in the parking lot gave the congregation further opportunities to meet and fellowship with their guests and neighbors.

Furne said, "This 'outside the box' event has ministry implications that could not be realized in a traditional church setting. More churches are thinking about such an event."

December 01, 2003 / Idaho Conference