Is Your Parking Lot Holding Back Single Parents?
Today, 1 in 4 kids are raised by a single parent. [ref] If your church isn’t seeing at least that number of single-parent-headed families in your church, the onus may lie on the parking lot. Traveling with young kids can be particularly challenging as a single parent. By the time a single parent has arrived at your church, they have already braved a lot to make that happen. The last daunting task is getting out of the car and across your parking lot into your facility.
Five Ways Your Church Can Be More Single-Parent-Friendly in Your Parking Lots
- Designate “Parent Parking” Spots – You don’t need to make these “single parent parking spots” because people do appreciate some level of anonymity. Having spots that are closest to the front and have easy access to your children’s ministry is a gift to all parents!
- Train Leaders to Look for Single Parents – The simple act of helping a parent with a stroller in your facility can be a sign of selfless love and care. Having team members walk with single parents and help their kids get into your ministry can make all the difference.
- Have “Fun Transport” Options – Wagons are a simple yet effective tool that some kids love to jump into and get driven into church in style. A next level option would be to have golf carts or even a tram! (I love the tram at Disney World!)
- Umbrellas Are a Must – Train your people to look out for parents on rainy days to meet them with an umbrella at the car. There is nothing more thoughtful than when someone steps up beside your car with an open umbrella on a rainy day to help you get your kids out!
- Great (Obvious) Signage – If you have two or three kids in tow, you are focused on keeping them safe coming across your parking lot. It can be difficult to discern where to go. You can’t make your signage too obvious to people. Make it better, simpler and brighter so that a frazzled parent doesn’t need to exhaust their brainpower to figure it out!
Parking Lots Are a “Hidden in Plain Sight” Stewardship Issue.
Finally, parking lots are expensive. It’s not uncommon for parking lots to cost at least $5,500 per spot on a fairly low complexity build. [ref] As a point of reference, let’s say your church has 500 seats in the auditorium with only 100 parking spots. You’d ideally like to add another 150 spots to match the one spot for every two seats we quoted above. After factoring in all the design, drainage, curbing, painting, etc., it would be an investment of $825,000 for your church—assuming that you don’t run into any significant problems along the way!
Once parking lots are built, they become a recurring maintenance issue that often gets deferred longer than it should; ultimately costing the church more than it needs to. If your church doesn’t keep up with resurfacing and patching on a periodic basis, you can be forced into a situation where major renovations need to be done at a massive cost. No one wants to invest massively in maintaining a parking lot when there are so many other pressing ministry needs, but ignoring its significance may have severe consequences down the road. You should be looking at regular maintenance of your parking lots on a bi-annual or at least annual basis!
We often take this resource for granted, and hence, it’s easy to not invest in. Typically, the cost of a parking lot gets hidden as part of a major capital expansion. This is why we don’t consider what an important resource it is to the church. Challenge that mindset because it really is an amazing tool for our ministry!
This article originally appeared here.