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“Lots and Spots”
by Tom Goodman
March 31, 2005

My thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make this Easter weekend a special one for guests!  Forty-three cars were parked at Anderson, and Tom Clark and Lee Cameron shuttled the drivers to Hillcrest.  It was good to have this option in place since our counters reported zero available spaces in the north, east, and south lots.  We had some spaces open on the paved and gravel lots west of the MPC, but guests and new attendees aren’t familiar with that side of our building.

Also, I’m grateful for the leaders of Hillcrest Kids offering fifty kids an “Easter Party” in the MPC during worship.  We would not have had room for those fifty in the auditorium.  We had ninety percent of our auditorium seats full as it was!

Easter, of course, is an “attendance anomaly.”  Still, our Ministry Staff is paying close attention to “lots and spots,” and I hope you will, too.  I’m talking about parking lots and seating spots.  As lots and spots fill up, we have to look for ways to make more.  Otherwise, growth stalls.

It’s not time to make more lots and spots yet, but, God willing, the time is coming.

First, let’s look at lots.  I have a team of parking lot counters who keep me informed about how many open spaces are left in our lots.  On Easter, the only open spaces we had were west of the MPC.  On average, though, we have about forty open spaces.  The architects in Nashville tell us that if you divide your attendance by 2.3, that’s about how many spaces you need in your parking lots.  By that figure, we still have enough space for about ninety more to join us, so I doubt we’ll need a weekly shuttle service for a while.

However, what concerns me is where those forty available spaces are!  Guests and new attendees naturally gravitate toward the north and east lots (by the education building and along the children’s wing).  Every week, these lots are filled quickly, and the available spaces are behind the MPC in an area unknown to our newcomers.  What’s more, newcomers with children shouldn’t be expected to park that far away from the children’s wing.  We will soon ask more of our regular attendees who don’t have kids to use the lots west of the MPC.  As you’ve seen, we have made some improvements to the unpaved area west of the MPC, and we are continuing to find ways to maximize this space.

Second, let’s look at spots.  Have you heard of the “Eighty-Percent Rule?”  The Rule is: “When a room is eighty percent full, it’s full.”  People will break this rule in Worship Centers on special occasions such as Easter or Mother’s Day, and they will break this rule for a short period of time if they know something is being done to eventually solve the crowding.  But the weekly attendance in a church building simply won’t exceed eighty-percent of the seating capacity for long.

On average, our auditorium is seventy-five percent full, so I’m not proposing any change at this time.  But it bears watching should God bless our outreach.  As we fill a few more spots and reach eighty percent capacity, our staff will propose that we begin a second morning service.  Although I don’t imagine that proposal will be made for several more months, I’ve been having some great conversations with our deacons about that very thing.

Lots and spots aren’t important, but the people who fill our lots and spots sure are!  Let’s keep an eye on our lots and spots, and let’s ask God to show us what to do to free up more!


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