Parking ministry offers a warm and safe environment for visitors
BY NANCY EDWARDS
Guests visiting a house of worship usually expect their first interaction with a church representative at the front door of the building. Visitors and attendees at Northview Church’s Carmel campus are initially greeted by a smiling golf cart driver in the parking lot waiting to transport them to service.
These drivers, along with other volunteers directing traffic and patrolling the parking lot, are part of what’s called First Touch Ministry. The ministry is made up of four key serving areas: parking, greeting, ushering and Capstone Connections.
“First Touch Ministry is intentional about creating a weekend service environment that is warm, inviting and distraction free,” Doug Starkey, assimilation pastor, said. “We want to create a safe environment for people to take their next step toward Christ.”
Scott Billman, parking director, said that the parking team is an especially important part of First Touch because they are the initial first impression for visitors.
“Being greeted is nice,” Billman said. “Otherwise, visitors get the feeling ‘Why am I here?’ Being greeted by the parking volunteers breaks the ice and helps welcome guests and makes them feel at home before they get inside.”
Starkey added that studies have confirmed that people tend to form their decision about a church within the first 15 minutes of their visit.
“That 15-minute clock starts when a person first drives onto our Northview campus,” he said. “During that initial 15 minutes when first impressions are formed, we want people to know that they matter to us because they matter to God.”
Once visitors and attendees are inside the church and the service starts, the parking team’s job does not end.
“Volunteers patrol the parking lot during services to ensure that all cars are secure and that no one is loitering in the parking lot,” Starkey said.
Additionally, according to Starkey and Billman, parking volunteers mark safety hazards that may be present around the parking lot or sidewalks and orange cones are placed strategically in lots for easier traffic flow.
Currently, there are 55 individuals who make up the parking team. Volunteers serve one weekend a month. There are three members of the team per each Saturday and Sunday service. Additionally, there is a standby crew as well to help with increased visitor population during Sunday services.by