“For years we had watched some of the kids who had grown up in church not return once they had graduated high school or college,” said Chris Setser, youth pastor at Basore Road Grace Brethren Church, Dayton, Ohio (Shannon Horst, pastor). “In 2012, a couple of the kids who had recently graduated were passionate about this issue, and approached me about starting an ‘alternative’ church for disillusioned young adults.”
The new congregation, called Visitor Parking, is an alternative church that currently meets at the Basore Road church building. Setser leads the group of individuals, who are mostly young adults with an evangelical church background.
Over the summer, the young people worked as a core team to visualize a new kind of church—for people who aren’t comfortable with church on Sunday morning but intrinsically know that it has value. They wanted a space where questions were welcome.
Thus, Visitor Parking was born.
The leaders of Visitor Parking try to keep the meeting times creative and flexible, sometimes meeting in restaurants or spending a large portion of the evening worshiping.
“We are sure to have a good solid Bible Study—we’re always in the Scripture,” Setser said. “But there are nights that we’ll stray from what’s planned. If someone asks a question, sometimes we’ll dive into apologetics.”
“It’s weird to see a group of post-college kids pulling out their Bibles in a restaurant,” Setser added.
As the small group began to act as a cohesive whole, a desire ignited within those who attended to take on more responsibility—as a formally recognized church.
“We didn’t go in with the intent of planting a church,” explained Setser. “We were trying to meet a need. Then we realized that in all function and practicality, we are a church plant. We’re still working on how to balance functioning as a church and having a vision for outreach at the same time.
“I think the core group understands that, biblically, we have some responsibility now. I think it’s about embracing our identity. We are starting to say, ‘Hey if we want to grow, we need to take on some of the responsibilities of a church leader.’”
This story first appeared in GraceConnect eNews. To subscribe to the weekly e-newsletter that includes news and information from congregations in the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches, click here.