Since I am not a SoCal native, I still remember my family’s first visit to Disneyland after moving down here. For some reason, one thing really stood out to me about that first visit, and it wasn’t the rides or the parade or the fireworks. What I remember being impressed by on our first visit was the parking process in the Mickey and Friends Parking Structure. Now, before you start making snide remarks about how exciting our day at Disneyland must have been if the parking structure was the most memorable thing for me, let me explain why that was.
I’ve parked in a good number of other parking structures or lots, and the vast majority of the time I end up wandering around trying to find a parking spot, then trying to figure out where I’m supposed to walk to exit the structure. And then when leaving I usually hand my money to a blank-eyed, bored-out-of-their-mind person who doesn’t even look at me and rarely speaks. But that was not Disneyland. In Disneyland’s parking structure, we were warmly greeted with a smile by someone who looked like they actually enjoyed talking with us. They were engaging, not robotic, and we were directed to a parking spot from which we could easily find where we needed to go next. Therefore before we even set foot inside the Disneyland resort, we felt welcomed and excited to be there.
Evergreen SGV is not Disneyland, but our hope is that each person who enters our church campus would truly feel welcomed and loved, and thus that they would be excited to come to church. Our hospitality and welcome to newcomers starts in the parking lot, which means that all of us have a part to play in making newcomers feel welcome. Here are a few reminders and encouragements…
1) Respect our parking ministry personnel
The goal of the parking ministry is to ensure an orderly parking process so that those walking from the parking lot to the sanctuary (especially children) can do so safely and efficiently, and so that newcomers or those with special considerations (age 65+ or disabled) can be given priority parking. So please follow the directions given by the parking ministry. Please also remember that the posted speed limit on the church campus is 14mph—so even though it might take you a whole 22 seconds longer to park, please abide by that for the safety and well-being of those around you.
2) Honor the reserved parking spaces
The yellow-striped parking spots, which are closest to the café and the sanctuary, are reserved for drivers who are age 65 and older. A few of those spots are labeled GUEST. Our greeters will assume that anyone who parks in the Guest spots are first or second time guests to Evergreen SGV, therefore they will be making a special effort to greet those people and bring them to the Welcome Center. If you have attended Evergreen SGV more than 2 times, please leave those spots open for newcomers.
3) Treat people like family
Church is not the building we enter for worship service. Church is not the program of singing and giving and preaching. Church is the people of God gathering to worship Him. Therefore church starts in the parking lot and as we enter the campus. We are not Disneyland “cast members” who are paid to act a certain way. We are the people of God who are called to love one another as we have been loved by God. So do that, starting in the parking lot, by the way that you drive, the way that you interact with others entering the campus, and by the way that you pay attention for newcomers so that you can give them a warm welcome.