The Story of
College Park Church
College Park Church began in 1985 with a few families meeting in a hotel in northwest Indianapolis.
Today, located on the northwest side of Indianapolis on 96th Street, the church is a community focused on sharing the love of Jesus across the street and around the world.
The Holiday Inn
College Park Church started in 1985 with ten families who met in a Holiday Inn on the northwest side of Indianapolis.
Each week, a different room in the hotel served as the nursery. In 1987, the growing congregation moved to a warehouse near 96th Street and Michigan Road. Sunday evening services always closed by circling around the chairs, holding hands, and singing “Blessed Be the Tie that Binds” and “I Love You, Lord.”
As the church grew, Pastor Kimber Kauffman would often use the concept of geese flying in formation as a sermon illustration. “Honk, honk with me,” he would say to the growing church. “Let’s encourage one another to persevere—to keep following the Lord together.”
In 1986, five acres of land at the corner of 96th Street and Township Line Road were purchased for College Park by an anonymous donor. The first building was constructed in 1992. As the congregation grew, God provided a total of 31 acres and the funding for a worship sanctuary and children’s wing expansions.
To save money on the significant cost of expansion, the church decided to forgo building a traditional baptismal until a final auditorium could be built. A simple metal horse trough served as a practical and portable alternative, and more than 800 people were baptized in the trough during those years.
As a tangible expression of our Core Value of extravagant grace, we have a tradition of taking a Christmas Offering every December. The goal of the offering is to partner with an intentional, strategic project that will make a big impact for an important cause. Since its first year, more than $19 million has been given to a variety of organizations proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ at home and abroad, demonstrating that “this” (i.e., ministry in Indianapolis) is for “that” (i.e., impact around the world).
In 2008, Pastor Mark Vroegop became Lead Pastor. In a series on Colossians called “The Core,” Mark exhorted the church: “Jesus is the center. Jesus is the image of the invisible God, firstborn of all creation and sustainer of everything. He is the pre-eminent one.”
In the midst of the Great Recession, College Park faced, once again, the challenge and opportunity of expanding its mission. In seasons of overcrowding, attendees were encouraged that “Gravel [parking] is godly” and to “Come early, sit close, and park far.” In response to the vision and need, over 1,100 families committed to fund the Mission Expansion Project, which included the construction of a new worship facility and renovations of the entire older section of the building. The project was completed and commemorated on June 10, 2012. The additional space has allowed for events like Christmas concerts and conferences to become part of the life of the church.
The Next Door Mission
Over the years College Park has had a hand in a number of church plants in New Palestine, Columbus, the near east side of Indianapolis, and in Hispanic and Arabic-speaking communities.
As God continued to grow the depth and breadth of ministry at College Park in the mid-2010s, the elders and leaders were increasingly burdened by the great spiritual need in the metropolitan region of Indianapolis, where over 60 percent of the 1.5 million people had no affiliation to a church.
In response to that need, College Park launched a renewed strategy called the Next Door Mission. This initiative includes church-planting, church adoption & revitalization, and assisting other churches.
In August 2015, our first church was planted in Fishers, Indiana, now called Pennington Park Church. Since then, our church plants have grown to also include Castleton Community Church (in northeast Indy), Crosspointe Community Church (in Greenwood), and One Fellowship Church (in Pike Township). All of these churches are now independent, self-governing churches.
While these churches were being planted, the College Park Church Residency Program was also developed. This program has helped train young leaders who are now serving in pastoral and other ministry roles around the world.
Deeper Gospel Impact
The global pandemic in 2020 brought many unforeseen challenges to our world, nation, community, and church. This season highlighted both the importance of relational connections and the opportunities for impact in our community. Thus coming out of the pandemic several initiatives began.
In 2021, the first annual WE ARE FAMILY Sunday morning gathering brought the entire church family together for a shared meal, games, fun, and time for connection. This event has become a beloved tradition as we aim to spur on one another to ignite a passion to follow Jesus.
With a heart to serve a need in the community, in 2022, Luma Counseling launched as an independent not-for-profit counseling center that helps individuals in our community walk through everyday problems by receiving Christ-centered counseling that is biblically based, culturally responsive, and clinically informed.
Further, out of the desire to foster a sense of community on many levels, in 2021-2022 the idea of The Portico was born. This pavilion and playground space on the north side of the church property is designed to foster relational connections among church members and also to be a blessing to neighbors in our community. It provides a flexible and unique space for ministry events, family gatherings, or playdates. It is projected to open in late fall 2023.
Since College Park’s inception, the focus has remained on Christ. If igniting a passion to follow Jesus is our goal, then keeping “the main one, the main thing” is our tactic. Whether we’re hosting a conference, discipling children, or preaching the Word, it’s about him. We strive to be a body of believers who live in such a way that when people look at College Park, they think, “Surely, God is among them.”
In 1985, a few families started meeting in a hotel in northwest Indianapolis.