The Seven Deadly Sins of Church Parking Lot Signs

One of my last flights of the year, well over my 200th, was next to a first-time flyer in her mid-thirties. We were headed from Atlanta to Tulsa on a beautiful clear-blue-skied day in December. The Keynote presentation in front of me, badly in need of completion for my upcoming meeting, received little attention as I watched her experience every new moment in the gravity-defying act of air travel. I am on a plane so often, I had forgotten how amazing it feels to soar at 30,000 feet. Not Sherri. She was nervously taking in every bit of the experience. And I got to see it all over again through her eyes.

In many ways, first timers to your church are encountering the exact same emotions Sherri had that morning. Nerves, apprehension and maybe even fear, are at surface level as they leave home for an unknown worship experience. Every moment and movement forms an impression of who you are, and whether or not their family will ever return for a second visit. Research shows that all of this decision-making happens within their first eleven minutes on campus.

It is more likely than not that, before they ever hear a note of worship or word of preaching, your guests have formed a lasting impression of your church, your friendliness, your culture, and your ability to care for their family. Most church leaders are on campus so often; they have forgotten what it feels like to visit for the first time. And even more critical, they have stopped seeing what their campus looks like though fresh eyes.

Across the more than 500 “Guest Perspective Evaluations” performed by Auxano Navigators over the last 14 years, we have learned that some of the most overlooked moments in the first time guest experience tend to be from the parking lot to the front door. Think about that for a moment. Every guest will navigate, park and find your front door. They will make a journey you have made so often, that you have forgotten how amazing, or unnerving, it can actually be.

We love to leverage our learning, from multi-site churches of 20,000+, to single-building congregations of less than 100, and help church leaders shape that journey into an incredible Guest Experience.  Scroll down or click to learn more about being part of Auxano’s upcoming Guest Experience Boot Camp.

Campus signage, your ability to clearly communicate welcoming next steps toward parking and entry, become a critical piece of those first eleven minutes on campus. Ask yourself or your team: Which of these seven deadly sins of church parking lot signage are we committing and how can we take steps of repentance THIS SUNDAY?

Sin #1:

Confession: Let us first lead with a welcoming yes, or at least add humor to our no… for nobody likes scooter riders and roller bladers.


sin #2

Confession: Let us count the cost of regular repainting or replacing… for faded letters speak more than words.


sin #3

Confession: Let us be realistic about many guests we might have this sunday… for empty guest spaces quickly become full of members wanting to park close.


sin #4

Confession: Let us keep campus flow simple and obvious… for if we need that many cones, we may need a new strategy.


sin #5

Confession: Let us help people find their way… for there is no excuse for no wayfinding help, as it doesn’t cost anything to recruit someone to wave and smile.


sin #6

Confession: Let us think in next steps rather than every possibility… for no one should have to read that many words while driving.


sin #7

Confession: Let us not forget what it feels like to be an outsider… for there are better places for your trash dumpster than right here.

Auxano’s Guest Experience Boot Camp is a 2-day collaborative learning event designed to help you – along with several members of your team – develop a framework for exceptional Guest Experiences:

  • Understand what the Guest expectations are in your community
  • Walk through the journey a Guest goes on from their home to your worship center
  • Create systems and processes that provide a clear and consistent Guest Experience
  • Develop trained teams who are the “first face” of your church to both Guests and members
  • Leverage to power of Guests and members to spread the word about your church to friends, neighbors, and others
  • And much more…

This Boot Camp will show you how to design, build, and implement a Guest Experience for your church using principles we have observed, tested, and helped clients implement over the last 14 years.

We’ll walk you through a discovery process, step-by-step, so you know exactly WHY you are doing Guest Experiences, WHAT your community expects in a Guest Experience, and HOW to design and build an exceptional Guest Experience.

Help ensure that your first time Guest returns to become a second-time Guest!

Click here to register your team for Auxano’s Guest Experience Boot Camp and take the next step for developing an exceptional Guest Experience at your church.


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