Parking to the glory of God

Yesterday, we had an issue on Lampkin street (it’s a street right behind Blueprint Church that has become the unofficial parking lot of those “in the know”).  On Sunday, during one of our services, one of our neighbors came out and was irate because someone from Blueprint, allegedly, blocked them in their driveway by the way their car was parked.   I’ve included an excerpt from the angry neighbor below, it reads as follows: Folks and hopefully Blueprint Church,

  • I would like to put this on the record if it exists.  This is probably the 4th time in a year that we have encountered a situation like you see in the attached picture.  Did anyone know that it is church policy that members not use the parking lot at the church?  I am not sure this is good policy.  It seems that we see the same folks showing great disrespect to immediate neighbors.  My neighbor in the Lampkin apartments had to work this morning.  I would hate to see an instance where there was an emergency.  We have made this issue aware to the church before, and was told that "they cannot control their members".  This has now become unacceptable.   I have found members of the church parked in my neighbors driveway.  I asked them if they thought that was ok?  They just shrugged.  Now, I do not know the answer, but I think it is somewhere between respect and common sense. 

Ouch!

What if I told you that the glory of God is at stake each Sunday depending on how and where we park our cars?  The statement may, at first, seem like an exaggeration, but according to 1 Corinthians 10:31, I think it’s quite accurate. In 1 Corinthians 10:31, Paul ends a section on the freedoms we have as Christians with the following words, “so, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”  Simply put, Paul is saying that the glory of God is at stake in the mundane things, just as much as it is in the major things.  In everything we do we are communicating something about God’s glory.  Even in parking.

Let me show you how this works out. Now, I don’t claim that the following was the exact thought process of any individual that parked on Lampkin, or Corley, or Randolph or any other surrounding streets.  Below is just an example of what might be a typical or logical flow of thought that would lead someone to park in a way that could be an inconvenience to a neighbor.

I’m late for church.  Man, daylight savings is affecting me more than I thought, and I really don’t want to have to walk all the way from the other lot just to sit in a hot building.  What is most convenient for me?  I’ll park on this street in front of someone’s house I don’t know.  I don’t think they’ll mind. I don’t think they’ll need to get out, and if they do have to leave, I’m sure they can navigate around me.

Basically, what we are saying by invading someone else’s driveway or house is, if someone has to be inconvenienced this Sunday morning, I just want to ensure that it’s not me.  We paint a picture that we, as a church, are a group of people that are more concerned with getting a good seat (or not having to walk a few blocks) than we are about ensuring that our neighbors are comfortable.  This only serves to reaffirm negative stereotypes of Christians.

Do you know how the Bible characterizes a true missionary?  Someone who is willing to inconvenience himself or herself so that the person they are trying to reach doesn’t have to.  A missionary welcomes inconvenience so that their surrounding neighbors will understand that we serve a God that has done the same—willingly embracing discomfort to illustrate how much the other person is loved.  This is the model Christ left for us to follow; this is what Paul refers to as “the mind of Christ” in Philippians 2.

We, as a church, desire to be a beacon of light to the O4W and we’ve gone through great lengths to ensure that the scenario that took place on Sunday would never happen.  There is a parking lot less than a quarter of a mile down the road with over 100 spaces for our members to park, so that our smaller lot can be reserved for our visitors.  There is a shuttle that runs back and forth between all three services, so that you don’t have to walk.  Sure, the shuttle isn’t as reliable as we would like it to be, and a quarter of a mile isn’t necessarily a stroll in the park.  If Blueprint was a business, and our members were customers, it would be a ridiculous request.  However, if Blueprint was a church (which it is), and our members were partners and servants (which they are), it would be a “walk in the park” (pun intended).

So, if there’s anything that we want to be known for as a church in the Old 4th Ward, it is this: We want to be known by the community as a group of people that will endure much hardship and inconvenience, if it will mean the comfort of our neighbors.  We want to be known by the community as people who love them enough to endure inconvenience on their behalf.  We want to be a community that goes out of our way to apologize and show grace when we have offended anyone.

With that being said, this week and every week, park your car for the glory of God.  Romans 12:18 tells us that “as much as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”  With that being said, we’ve decided it is best as a church if we use the extension lot we have on the corner of Boulevard and Highland and don’t park on Lampkin.  We want to let our neighbors know that we live for something greater than convenience and our comfort.  Otherwise, we’ll never convince them to do the same.