Monday, July 27, 2009

Parking Spaces = Attendance

I was looking back through some notes on a church by size seminar that I took at my previous appointment. During the sessions we were tossed tons of facts and figures. We learned about stewardship, finance, and worship. As I glanced back at these figures I realized a fact I found interesting but forgot. You will have 1.75 people attend your worship service for every parking space you have in your parking lot.

I wanted to know if this was true for Trinity. I rounded up some help to verify our results and to make sure we counted correctly. We have 52 parking spaces (not counting our handicap spots). That means by this equation we should have about 91 people in worship. Guess what our average attendance is for Sunday morning, 87-90 people for the year.

This got me thinking...how do we increase our spaces without adding new pavement (something we cannot afford at the moment)? We have a gravel overflow parking lot in the back the of the church that is connected to the current parking lot and with the gravel driveway makes a complete loop around the church. We can fit by my estimates another 20 cars into this parking lot. If we could get 10 cars to park back there that would mean we could increase our attendance by 17 people, pushing us over the 100 mark.

But how do you convince people to not park in the same spot they always have parked in? How do you show them that by opening up the parking spots close to the church you are encouraging new people to come?

I did a push about a year ago to do this and it worked for about a month or two and then people slid back into their normal habits. I even had some changing where they sat in church in order to open up the back pews to visitors (which actually showed up and sat there!).

There is a constant struggle to open peoples view and to show them that little changes can mean big things. Walking through gravel may be a pain in high heels but if new people come to church isn't it worth it?

Just curious, how many of you have the same figures. Does your parking spaces equal the number of people attending worship services? I am not sure what you do if you have more than one service but it is a fun and eye opening exercise.

3 comments:

Kuz said...

Hi Jim.

Our church is in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago and has no dedicated parking. There are meters and street parking available, but not always. We are also right near a transit line and have alot of folks who take the train or walk to church, averaging about 150 or so now for our 3 services.

As for how to increase weekly attendance without more parking? Small groups midweek!

Jim said...

Kuz, I am sure this state does not work for those in an urban environment, or places where public transportation is readily available. Thanks for the comment.

Jodie said...

Would you be able to mark some of your parking spaces in the front lot as "Visitor parking only"? I know a lot of churches do this to encourage space for visitors, so they always have a place near the church to park. This would flag members to leave the spots open. Just a thought - good luck!