Everything I needed to know about leading ministry, I learned in the parking lot.

A church parking lot is kind of like kindergarten.
Everything you need to know about life, you can learn there.
Watch out for traffic. Smile. Take your turn. Don’t hit people.

Pray to Jesus if someone gets in your lane. (Many drivers, whether they are Christian or not, do this naturally.)

A church parking lot is part of the overall church experience that sets the tone for how people feel when they walk in the doors to worship. What happens in the parking lot is important to whether people feel welcomed, rushed or stressed. Those who serve in the parking lot can make a big difference in the church experience to visitors arriving from all different places and stages. In that same way, volunteering in the parking lot is often the best training ground to learn about serving and leading.

Lessons learned from the parking lot:

We serve rain or shine.

Impacting our world will always cost you something. The only choice is whether today requires an umbrella or sunscreen.

Be easy to find.

Bright colored shirts and nametags say, “I’m here and I want to help you.”

Pray beforehand.

All work is spiritual work, and welcoming people in the parking lot requires prayer as much as an altar call requires prayer. Spiritual work runs on God’s power.

Make a plan.

If you've got a lot of ground to cover at once, build a team, assign roles wisely, explain the plan clearly and then send them out to do their job. Everyone has to be directing people with the same plan.

Prioritize donuts and coffee time.

Creating an environment for personal connections will bring volunteers back.

There are people who will be unpleasant to you and you won’t know why.

Simply smile and wave because this isn’t about you. The spiritually healthy don’t need a hospital, and the spiritually struggling are often easily frustrated.

Take time to explain the lingo.

Use signs. Words mean different things to different people. Teams work better when everyone is using the same simple, easy words to communicate.

Titles matter.

Safety Team has a very different focus than Parking Team.

Joyful people like to have FUN!

Why wave to cars without a Mickey glove on? Why use a flashlight when a light saber will serve the same purpose AND add an element of fun?

Everyone appreciates excellence.

Excellence isn’t perfection. It’s doing your very best with what you’ve been given.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as if you were serving the Lord, not just people.” Colossians 3:23

Park drivers, not cars.

Ministry is more about the experience of the people than efficient systems. So look at your plan from the driver’s point of view – will the average person want to follow it?

Don’t be scary.

The #1 reason people don't go to church is fear.

Check the “Stupidometer”.

No one likes to feel stupid. Good signs, clear instructions and common sense plans encourage people that they are smart enough to belong here and not getting lost on the way in.

Leaders should be in the golf cart.

The golf cart is the best way to get a “big picture” viewpoint. Support and help occasionally, but your team needs you to see what they can’t see.

A clear chain of command makes everyone happier.

Take turns leading if you want, but everyone should know who is making decisions today.

“High-fives” are a kids’ universal welcome sign.

There’s no better way to encourage a parent than to connect with their child.

Fist bumps work in flu season.

Blessings bring opportunities, not problems.

Too many cars and more services are every church's dream and such an opportunity to reach people for Jesus! Be careful not to complain when God answers our prayers.

Say good-bye with a purpose.

Vision cast as people leave with “See you next week!”  People won't necessarily know it’s important they come back unless you tell them.

No gift beats a servant’s heart.

Anyone can serve in the hard places if their heart is willing.