How to Transform Your Church Parking Lot for Outdoor Gatherings Blog Feature
Mary Bellus

By: Mary Bellus on June 12, 2020

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How to Transform Your Church Parking Lot for Outdoor Gatherings

church facilities | Community Impact | Design Week | Great Outdoors

In this current COVID-19 culture, many churches are finding the need to think outside the realm of the normal function of their church facilities in planning how to bring people physically back to church. They're reconfiguring larger worship spaces to conform to smaller gathering standards, and adapting outdoor spaces for prayer walks and as respite for the community.

In the following post, Aspen designers, Craig Dobyns, Rob Gordon, Rosie Mitchell, and César Espinoza, share new ways you can use your church parking lot for innovative, safe gathering spaces.


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Parking Lot Outposts

Church parking lots may provide extra space to create intentional places of connection that provide for social distancing. Think of these "outposts" as an extension of your lobby. They could be as simple as a parking lot space with cones to designate pedestrian social zones, or it could include a more elaborate built element that stands out and brings attention to your church property, such as a canopy.



Parking lot outposts could align with your welcome or next-steps ministry, or the focus could change each Sunday to highlight different ministries at your church. These spaces could be portable, so they can be moved to a different location on your property, to another campus, or as a pop-up space in the community.



Prayer Pavilions

One way to offer familiar, sacred spaces where people can connect with God would be to create pop-up prayer spaces in your parking lot. These “prayer pavilions” could include space for individuals or small groups, with natural social distancing built into the design of the structure. This pop-up space could include areas where prayers, verses, or other spiritual prompts could be posted to encourage contemplation.




Bleacher-Style Amphitheaters

Many church communities are using outdoor spaces because the open air provides easy, natural ventilation. Consider renting or sharing a community amphitheater space that would provide bleacher-style seating. This would allow people to feel a part of their church family, while allowing for social distancing. This is also a great opportunity for collaboration within the local park or school districts.


We hope these design ideas will help you reimagine your parking lot for creative, safe gathering spaces. Visit for more articles and resources to help your church think through how your spaces might be temporarily adapted as COVID-19 restrictions ease, and contact us if you need more help transitioning your church spaces.