At Ideal Park CRC everybody belongs and everybody serves.
Ideal Park Church was started in the 1920s by Pine Rest nursing students as a Sunday school program for children in Wyoming, and they’ve maintained their commitment to community and children’s ministries ever since.
Kids learn about God and how to serve each other and the wider community at VBS in the summer, GEMS and Cadets on Wednesdays, and Bible school on Sundays. High schoolers explore how to Serve, Love, and Minister at the Sunday Night SLAM.
On Tuesday and Wednesdays afternoons, a member of the congregation teaches free music lessons to kids from the community. Children start with piano or keyboard and graduate to the organ, if they wish. They learn the hymns and songs of the church, getting to know both their instrument and God.
Ideal Park does not wait for special Sundays to incorporate the music program kids into morning services. Whenever children have mastered a song, they are invited to play it for congregational singing or an offertory.
People there like to say, “Everybody belongs. Everybody serves.” Children and teenagers serve in a variety of ways during services. People with special needs have roles designed for their abilities and personalities. Elderly members who cannot get to the microphone have it brought to them.
From refinishing their original communion table so it can be used again, to special songs during Advent, to the ringing of bells from the basement to the sanctuary to kick off the Sunday school season, traditions enliven their worship.
While they focus their ministry activities on children and young people, the spiritual needs of adults are met in a variety of Bible studies, separate ones for men and women, as well as one combined. This is a church that loves to eat together. Potlucks are legendary, so they seek out events in their members’ lives to celebrate with a communal meal. They also have a unique dinner program: every few months, members are randomly put into small groups that meet regularly for dinner, ensuring that everyone knows everyone else.
Every month, a mobile food pantry comes to their parking lot, where they serve over 100 families each time. They also maintain a pantry of non-perishables that are available to people who need food assistance between visits from the truck. Members go out into their communities to distribute flyers that advertise the food truck and the ministries of the church: one woman personally greets each person who comes to the mobile food pantry, a gentleman hands out flyer to kids at bus stops, and every member takes responsibility to deliver flyers to a particular street.
Local children whose families cannot afford music lessons can come to church to learn to play piano. A member teaches them to play by ear, and as they learn each song, they get to know about God and his grace and the saving actions of Jesus. To make it possible for these kids to practice between lessons, the church also place instruments (pianos, keyboards, electric organs) in their homes – free of charge. When they’ve mastered a song, they are given the chance to serve the congregation by playing it during a Sunday morning service.
Investments & Connections
Small Groups are spreading throughout the congregation at Alger Park CRC. They meet in people’s homes, and are organized for various purposes. Some meet for Bible study, others for accountability, worship, or to engage in sports or specific hobbies. There are also groups aimed at people of specific times of life: young families, singles and couples in their 20s and 30s, senior citizens.
Childern & Students
Alger Park CRC starts discipling their children young, with Little Lambs on Sunday mornings and Story Hour on Tuesday mornings. It continues through Sunday School and kicks into high gear on Wednesday evenings with GEMS and Cadets, when elementary students from the neighborhood and the congregation get to know each other. Every June, the church grounds and building are turned over to the large VBS program. Middle schoolers and high schoolers each have their own youth group, with regular meetings interspersed with lock-ins, retreats, backpacking trips, and service projects.
Disicipleship & Mentorship
From the Deeper Roots Discipleship course, to the seven Bible studies for men and women, to the small household groups, Alger Park CRC seeks to give its members the message that they exist for God’s mission. Indeed, they have high participation in Kid’s Hope, a one-on-one academic mentoring program with students from Ken-o-Sha Elementary School, as well as with their own VBS.