Paradise and Parking Lots

written by

Over the past few weeks…

We’ve introduced some ways churches can rethink the physical assets they possess and how they are used. It is true, we believe, the church in America is dying. I mean this in terms of how we’ve traditionally defined church in this country. Metrics defined by tithing and butts in pews. The best days are behind us, in these ways, and that can be so scary for so many churches, pastors and congregations as they wrestle with the future unknowns.

But we are Resurrection people. (Can I get an “Amen!”)

Friday is here, but Sunday’s a coming.

We believe on the other side of this small “c” (“church”) death in this country is new life. Fresh expressions of GOOD NEWS to our neighbors. And we believe one of these fresh expressions will be experienced in and through HOW we better utilize the space God has entrusted us with.

One of the biggest opportunities for churches to reimagine their assets for the flourishing of their neighbors is hiding in plain sight. Not in their auditoriums or education wings, commercial kitchens or gymnasiums, but in all the empty space not already inhabited. In the parking lots and in all the land surrounding our sanctuaries. Imagine the things we could do….

Affordable housing projects. Senior living communities. Tiny home villages for the homeless. Retail space for small businesses. Green space. Play zones for kids and families. Urban farms, orchards and neighborhood garden plots.

As Joni Mitchell so powerfully and poetically challenges us, we’ve paved paradise and put up too many parking lots. And it’s as true for our churches as it is our corporations. But it’s not too late, my friends, for those of us willing to brave beyond the boxes we’ve traditionally put church within. We have so much JOY to offer the world. So much GOOD NEWS.

Paradise is not as far off as we might think.

But it will require of us NEW IMAGINATIONS. And for many of us, it will require something to die in order that something new can be resurrected.

Let it be so.

With Hope,