Believe it or not, your parking lot could be the thing that is holding back the potential of your church. In fact, your church might not be living up to its total calling because of what is happening at the parking lot. We call this site unSeminary. Today, we’re diving into an issue we can guarantee that no seminary has talked about anywhere before:
Your Parking Lot Might Be Limiting the Redemptive Potential of Your Church!
Cars have a profound impact on the manner in which we “do” church across the country. As the adoption of the car took off in the first half of last century, our approach to churches changed and morphed accordingly. The local parish gave way to the regional church which ended up paving the way for the entire mega-church movement, which became a fertile ground for the multisite movement. We would do well to understand the impact of cars and connecting our parking lots to our ministry because they are so connected to what we do. Here are a few ways that parking lots might be negatively impacting your ministry.
A Full Parking Lot Is Limiting Your Church
Obviously, most church leaders are inside their buildings when their services start. Your people might know that you have a problem and you’re never around to see it. Full parking lots are a great sign because that implies lots of people are attending your church. However, if they are “too full” like a packed auditorium, it can actually turn people off.
Most municipalities’ bylaws are inadequate to tackle the required parking spots per seat in the main auditorium. Lots of cities typically only require one spot for every four seats in your auditorium. (I know one city by us that only requires one for every 40!) My experience suggests that your church needs one spot for every two seats in your auditorium. Most legacy church buildings were not built with this much space and might get cramped every week.
If your parking lot is more than 70 percent full as your services are starting, it’s time to start looking for better parking solutions. You want your guests to be able to find a spot easily.
Four Tactics for Dealing With a Full Parking Lot:
- Street Parking – Diving into your municipality’s parking bylaws might reveal that your area allows street parking on Sunday. In many regions, the rules pertaining to weekend street parking are different during the week. It’s worthwhile investing the time to figure out if this type of opportunity exists on the streets around your building.
- Cross Use Agreements – Look around your immediate neighbors and find someone who you could borrow spots from. Oftentimes, other businesses and organizations will be open to you using their empty parking spots. However it’s much better to approach them and talk about it rather than just starting to use it.
- Park Your Leaders Off Site – Those who volunteer and lead at your church should be encouraged (or even required) to park off your location. Cast vision with them around the idea of creating more space for visitors and ask them to do the extra walk.
- Shuttle Buses – Churches facing a more acute parking problem might need to resort to off-site parking that isn’t adjacent to their property and might need to offer remote parking supported by shuttle buses. This approach should ideally be the “last stop” before you look at building more parking spaces. It can be a great solution and provide good service for families connecting with your church.