Showing Paradise With a Paved Parking Lot

19 Oct

Originally posted on my church‘s website.

Went to church this evening and never made it out of the parking lot, and that’s a good thing. There is a big event occurring right across the street from us. There are lots of fun and exciting things going on over there. Unlike many of the others allowing parking nearby, the parking lot we have is paved. The parking we provide is free. Specifically, I was working with a late night crew of six motley men. Our job was to keep people from running over each other and direct the drivers to the correct spot, all while showing the love of Jesus.

Conceptually, it kind of reminds me of my days in college when I first starting trying to apply I Corinthians 10:31 and was wondering how we could eat or drink to the glory of God. Now before I begin to debate the merits of a diet aimed at God’s glory, let me just assert that loving your community while pointing out parking spaces can be just as challenging.

You see, most of society does not look for God in the details, and some even try to take the miraculous away from God. When we are busy going about a task that is largely mundane, the tendency of depraved creatures is to think of it in Christ-free terms. We are filling our parking lot with people who come in expecting a merchant-customer experience before attending an event that does not place an emphasis on the atoning work of Christ.

Thanks to the generosity, foresight, and wisdom of our elders, we are able to immediately turn the tables on those expectations. Make no mistake, despite the occasional “thank you,” and the surprise of most people at free parking, the gospel is still something contrary to our nature as humans. The fortunate part, for us, is that we aren’t wanting to be the ones who change that nature.

We serve a God who created the world and all the people in it. He is able to soften hearts, even with something as simple as free parking. And for those of us who’ve been working we’ve seen Him at work. One of the great things about what we’re doing is we’re allowing the Lord to work, however He sees fit.

While it isn’t a thriving Utopic transportation from the real world where everyone goes about praising the Lord with every breath. There are still people littering the parking lot with everything from uneaten funnel cakes to almost full, lit cigarettes. We’ve had people drive by us with seemingly no regard for the fact that we are standing there and directing them. Nevertheless, we’ve had people ask us about our church and when the services are. We’ve had people thank our church for being a beacon of light to a seemingly godless society.

One of my great friends, Bob Collins, used to say, “The church is God’s chosen method for evangelism.” We’re out here attempting to show this culture who our God is. It is not an incredibly hard or thankless task, but it is one required of all those who are called to live a life pointing to God. Thankfully, we have an opportunity before us and we have the backing of the church and other members of the church to make the task easier. For what it’s worth, this Friday night crew loved the task (and even got a boost when we heard UCF win their football game minutes after our shift ended). Did others have similar experiences?

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