Packed Parking on the Way to the Cross


Visitor Parking at the Red Brick Church in Stillman Valley, IL There has been a traffic jam on the road to being cross-centered this Easter season. Our church parking lots, in particular, have been packed.

Our church goal going into Holy Week this year has been to follow Christ’s example and fix our eyes on the cross. The Gospel of Luke shows us how Jesus determined to go to the cross to pay for the sins of his people. As a church we want to be “cross-eyed” – – that is, to increasingly see life through the lens of what Jesus did on the cross.

But in the life of the church, the teaching of theological truth can quickly be constrained by practical realities. We need space to teach. Not only is our church crowded inside, our parking lot is packed outside, which makes it difficult for people – – -especially visitors with young families – – to safely visit.

Being “cross-eyed” for our church family means serving others in the parking lot. There are several ways our church family can love and serve one another given our parking constraints.

Learn about parking. Did you know that church consultants estimate a need for 1 parking space for every 2 people? Our attendance is often around 300 this winter. Yet, we have about 37 parking places along with street parking. Our first service attendance does not totally clear before the second service traffic arrives. And many attend both hours.

Contemplate the priority of parking. How people are greeted – – how safe they feel – – how hard it is to get into church – – all these factors influence how we hear the gospel.

Look at “packed parking” through the eyes of others. Leaders arrive early and know exactly where to park. Friends greet us by name. We know which door to use. We do not have to situate small children. Hence, it is tempting to downplay the importance of parking. But those who will truly consider what it is like for a young mother to bring three small children, on her own, across a busy street, will be moved to ministry.

Thank God for deacons and trustees who are actively working to address the situation. Notice the trustees recently put up visitor parking signs!

Thank God when you see empty parking places. Our goal is to have several, visible, empty spaces when church begins each week. Do not cite a few empty parking places as documentation that our space is fine.

Drive slowly. One of our biggest concerns is children and the area traffic. Our church family can lead the community by setting a slow pace on Sunday mornings.

Park either by the junior high or in the funeral home parking lot. These spaces are less visible to visitors and hence less used.

Understand that the year is not 1975. Be careful about comparing our parking experiences now to previous decades. For a number of reasons our parking lot now is far more acute than 20 years ago: (a) Our attendance has doubled. (b) More families bring multiple vehicles to church. (c) There is more traffic on Highway 72.

Recognize that we do not have a drop-off area. While many businesses require a walk to park – – the view to those parking places is nearly always unobstructed, does not require crossing a busy highway – – and allows for drop-off.

Actively greet people in the parking lot. We need a culture of friendliness for the cause of Christ.

At the Red Brick Church, we’re inviting people to be more cross-centered. On a very practical level, this means our church family must see our parking lot through the lens of servant leadership.