Before you get mad, I am an old person. I’m 77, so I’m one of those old people I have a problem with (I Know, preposition in the wrong place. Get over it; it’s not 1950).
But here is my gripe with old people in church – they almost always come to church early and leave late. What in the world has that to do with church and ministry?
Let me tell you a story.
I was working with a church not long ago full of old people that was beginning to reach younger people. They called me in to work with them. When I arrived I got the last parking spot in their parking lot. So of course, the need for additional parking was on my radar and appeared as a recommendation in their report. As it turned out they had been trying to purchase more land for parking, but the only good piece of contiguous property had a price tag of $200,000. A church of 350 in worship and little debt ought to be able to swing $200,000. So as I interviewed people, I probed into why the leaders were reluctant to purchase the property. Here is what I discovered.
One man told me he walked to church and didn’t need any more parking. Another man told me he never had a problem finding a parking space. Later in the conversation I learned that he always arrived some 30 minutes early to make the coffee (I hate church coffee) and left some 30 minutes after everyone else because he had to clean up. I ran into similar stories over and over – the majority of the leaders were over 65 and they always came to church early and they always left late. They never saw a full parking lot.
Folks, if they can’t park ‘em; they can’t worship with you. And if they can’t worship with you; you won’t reach them. I know it’s not quite that simple, but almost.
The cost of a parking lot isn’t the amount you have to pay for it. The cost of a parking lot is the number of people you’ll never reach if you don’t purchase it. So the real question is “How much is a soul worth to you?”
So here is a formula for deciding how much a parking lot is worth to you. Do a survey in worship to find out how many people come to church per car and then determine how much each person gives a year (divide worship attendance into income). Then the formula becomes “Every person gives an average of $@@@ a year and @@@ people per car. Let’s say every person gives $1,000 a year and comes to church 1.5 people per car. That means that every parking space is worth $1500 a year to the church, providing that space is used. So the real question is “Is a soul worth $1500?” I think it is. Of course, what most old people will hear is “Each parking space we fill means $1500 more towards meeting our budget.” Sigh.
When you have an old person who sees the soul rather than the $ sign, you have a real jewel. Cherish that person and make a hero out of them.