Disney Hospitality Duties for Church Members

This post examines three duties that Disney World gives to all of its employees, and how these duties could strengthen hospitality in our churches if all Christians were to accept them as well.

When travelling through a forest, Dorothy taught us that we could expect to find lions, tigers, and bears. When travelling through the Walt Disney World Resort, you can expect to find photographers, janitors, and greeters. This is because Disney World teaches all of their employees (also known as Cast Members) that in addition to their assigned duty, they must always be janitors, photographers, and greeters. I think our churches can learn from Disney’s example.

Church Hospitality: The Parking Lot

The church parking lot is the first thing that people experience when they come to church.  I want to put together a checklist of things to think about when reviewing a church parking lot. If you have stumbled across this post, and have an idea that will help our church parking lot be a more welcoming place, please add it in a comment! Here are some things that I have thought of:

  • Designated parking
  • Have enough designated parking for handicap, visitors, elderly, expecting mothers, etc. I would not designate special places for church staff or lay positions… in fact I have taken my own advice in another post and park in the back of the parking lot in order to give room for others to park up front.
  • Signs to direct people
  • No one likes feeling lost and out of place, and we do not want our visitors to feel that way, either. Make sure there are signs that will lead people to where they are going: Sanctuary, Church Office, Pastor’s office, Nursery, Sunday School, Restrooms, Fellowship Hall, etc.
  • Parking lot should be inviting
  • If a parking lot looks closed, people will not turn in. Well painted stripes, good lighting, and directional arrows will help people know that they are on the right path. Striping a parking lot is a great project for a prospective eagle scout!
  • Church Sign
  • Church sign out front should look professional, and be informative (no cutsie sayings). If your church faces more than one road, you need more than one sign. Also, look at your sign (not the words) and see if your sign says, “You are invited to come be a part of a living, thriving congregation,” or “This church is tired, run down, and outdated, nothing to get excited about.”
  • Clean
  • Parking lot should be well kept, and free of rubbish – teach church leadership that they may extend hospitality to others by picking up garbage if they see it. The best way to teach this is to lead by example.
  • Parking Volunteers
  • Consider placing volunteers in the parking lot. They can direct people to a parking place, and then they can point people in the right direction.
  • Directing Traffic
  • Be aware of traffic before and after your events. If it takes an hour to empty the parking lot, people may be incovenienced to the point of not coming back. Consider contracting an off duty officer to direct traffic. An off duty officer can help people get in and out quickly and safely. I have helped load someone in an ambulence after leaving a church event. That is not fun for anyone involved.
  • Pickup and Dropoff canopy
  • Have a place where people may pickup and dropoff others without getting soaked when it rains.
  • Plan for the future
  • Make sure your parking lot will fit with future growth. I used to work at the Burger King in Crestview, Florida. It had the most unique drive thru in America, because it was the only drive through that had its pickup window on the passenger side. The Burger King was built in 1975, and they added the drive through a few years later. The city would not let them build a drive through in the correct direction because it would back up traffic on hwy 90, only a short distance from where 90 hit 85. They suffered from not planning ahead. Make sure design fits with your long ranged plans.
  • This is a list off the top of my head, if I missed something, let me know and I will add it! Or if you have pet peaves about parking lots, share those, too… I want to learn from them.

    Church Hospitality: Greeting the Regulars

    Our sanctuary has a main entrance in the back where most of our 11:00 worship crowd enters. We make sure to have greeters there, handing out bulletins, smiles, and handshakes.

    In addition to our sanctuary’s main entrance, there is a door towards the front of the sanctuary that is closest to our Sunday School rooms. Most of our Sunday School participants (children and adults) use it to enter the sanctuary. These are our regulars. The people who use this door are the ones who have been coming to church for a long time and know their way around. We have not had a greeter at that door, because there is a line of logic that says those people do not need the aid of an usher or greeter.

    I, however, disagree with that line of logic. It is important that each person be greeted as the body of Christ gathers together. The welcome of a greeter sets a tone of love. It reminds people that they are entering a special time of worship, where they will experience God, and God’s type of love. Maybe someone has had a difficult week. A warm greeting can remind people that they are entering a place that will treat them differently than the way the world treated treated them. A warm greeting also reaffirms to each person that they belong. Its a way of saying, “You belong here, and we are glad that you do.” After all, everyone is important to the body of Christ. With these things in mind, I set out to put a greeter at the other door.

    I took my own advice from an earlier post and asked someone who was not a church member to accept this new greeter position. I asked someone who had been coming for a long time (years), but never joined the church. He was glad to do it, and a few weeks later, he and his wife joined the church! In addition, the Sunday School crowd loves having him at the door on Sunday morning. It just goes to show how important greeters are to have at every door. And it is important to greet even the regulars.

    Just wait until I try to convince people that we need a greeter in the parking lot!

    Church Hospitality Tip: Park Lovingly

    Would you like to know how to park lovingly? It’s simple. Try parking in the overflow lot at church. If all able church members were to park in overflow areas, the premium spots would be left for those who really need to cut their walking distance, and for those who are new to the church.

    I know that the front parking spot is a badge of honor. I admit that I feel like I’ve won a contest if I am in the front row. Think of how welcome a visitor will feel if they get that premium spot. Having premium spots available for visitors is one way to let them know that you care about them before they even enter the church. This is what it means to park lovingly.

    Note: Parking is a limiting factor in church growth. If the lot is full, your services will stop growing, regardless of how big your sanctuary is, so make sure that you keep an eye on how full your lot is getting, and be proactive!

    Running Stats: One Sunday morning, count the number of people in worship and in other activities on property. Then count the number of cars in the lot. If you divide the number of people by the number of cars, you will get an average of how many people ride per car. You will be amazed at how low it is. My guess is most will find 1.8-2.1 people per car. That number will be important as you try to plan parking. For example, you can use that number for an educated guess on how many spaces you will need on Christmas Eve. If you imagine 400 people will be present, and you know your average is 1.8 people per car, you need 222 parking spaces.