Grow your Outdoor Church Service by working on the logistics.

We didn’t imagine being in this position. Our building is off limits for church, and the parking lot is the center of ministry.

Here’s something else we never imagined: we like outdoor church better than church indoors!

Maybe it’s that we’re all desperate for the fun things we used to go and do. Everything is postponed or cancelled because of the pandemic. And church outdoors, with our beach chairs and blankets, feels like a tailgate party – even though we’re socially distanced and masked-up.

See the first part in this series here:  how to hold an outdoor church service that people love.

Here are 13 things we’re learning about the logistics of having church in the parking lot.

1. Pick a Time for the Service—but don’t be afraid to change it.

We started the service at 9:30 am during the overcast June days in San Diego. When it warmed up in July, we moved the service to 9:00 am. Changing the time wasn’t the communication feat it would be in normal days because most of us have less on our schedules.

As more cars fill up the parking lot, we’re looking at adding a second service, but there isn’t an ideal choice. 11:00 am will be too hot. Saturday or Sunday evening will be dark in a couple of months. By October, the 11:00 am sunshine will be an asset. Do we choose the best time for this month, or to take us through the winter?

Maybe that’s why our predecessors decided that church indoors is better. It solves the weather issues. In the meantime, we’ll be flexible and encourage our attenders to go with the flow.

Our Spanish-speaking daughter church is meeting on Sunday afternoon like always, but now they are under the portico at the front of the building.

2. Orient the congregation so they face the building if possible.

We started with the stage against a hillside at the side of our parking lot. It was a nice backdrop, but we decided it was better to have people face the front of the church. It feels right… like we’re going into the house of the Lord… even if we’re not.

We have a driveway right in front of the church, and plants in a border between the parking lot and the driveway. At first we wondered how to put the stage in front of the church because the plants would block the view. We solved it by putting the stage in front of the plants on the parking lot side.

The plants help provide a backdrop rather than blocking the view. The congregation sees the stage, plants, and the church behind it.