10 Quick Ideas to Spruce Up Your Parking Lot
We don’t often put a lot of emphasis on parking lots in church world, and for good reasons: they’re not ground zero of ministry. They’re not where real church happens. They’re…kinda boring.
But the parking lot is the very first thing that most of your guests see. Like it or not, it’s creating the first impression for a first-time guest, and it’s subliminally setting a tone for the day for your long-time attendees.
So how can we redeem and reclaim the lowly parking lot? Here are ten quick ways, from the free to the frivolous:
1. Clean it up.
Nah, really. When is the last time you walked your lot, picked up trash, pulled some weeds, and checked for potholes or fading lines? A bit of curb appeal goes a long way.
2. Place some people.
I don’t want to assume that you have volunteers in the lot, so let me play my hand here: I believe that outside greeters are more important than inside greeters. Staff your lot with some of your best.
3. Play some tunes.
Whether it’s mounted speakers on your roofline or a good-quality Bluetooth on the sidewalk, set the tone for what people will hear inside. At many of our campuses we’ll livestream the service on the sidewalk so latecomers know what to expect. (Just make sure you’re a good neighbor and don’t crank it too loud.)
4. Update your signage.
Do your monument signs and portable signs (put out only on the weekend) still point people to the right place? Do you have incomprehensible acronyms or other insider language that makes sense to you, but not a first-time guest? Are your signs faded, scratched, or dirty? Take a walk. Look around. And freshen ’em up. [related post: 8 Tips for Better Signage]
5. Have fun with your signage.
You don’t have to be boring. Use the normally-blank backside of your signs to add your church’s logo or mission statement. Put up some a-frames on the weekend that have no purpose other than to make people smile. Add messaging in unexpected places…I saw one church that replaced random parking lot lines with stenciled plumb lines. It was a tiny detail they refused to overlook.
6. Make your shuttles fun.
If you have to have remote parking, coach your shuttle drivers (or shuttle hosts) to keep it light: have a trivia question of the day, on-board bottled water, or make a kid an honorary shuttle captain.
7. Add a water station.
And speaking of water, if your parking lot is particularly large, maybe stash some iced-down coolers and a few volunteers in the far corners to keep people hydrated.
8. Circle the wagons.
If you do have a large lot and a lot of young families, invest in a few wagons so your vols can cart kids and diaper bags and whatever else back and forth. It gives the parents and early break and gives you a time to have a conversation.
9. Have theme days.
Several years ago, the parking team at one campus was made up primarily of college-aged and young adult guys. They took it upon themselves to dress in character from time to time: Star Wars weekend was made more fun with light saber traffic wands, Christmas saw elf costumes and jumbo candy canes. The kids loved it, the adults were amused by it, and the team had a great time with it.
10. Equip your parking team to be shepherds.
More than anything, make sure your team knows that their task is to park cars, but their role is to care for people. Over the years we’ve had parking team members engage guests, find out about crucial needs, and pray for them and/or take care of that need on the spot. Don’t let your team lose touch in the midst of task.
(bonus) Prepare for rain.
Nothing communicates care and forethought like a small army of vols carrying umbrellas. Buy a batch from Home Depot (they almost always have them for $6 or less) and pass them out.