My kids are on spring break this week. I have two still in school, my boys. Mary Ashleigh is in college. Yesterday, Susan and I took the day and took them to the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington D.C. Apparently, I wasn't the only one with that idea. Also apparent was that my kids weren't the only one's on spring break. I think there were about a billion people from Fredericksburg and north...give or take a few.
We drove to the southernmost Metro stop to 'avoid the traffic'. But traffic found us. It took about an hour to drive the last 20 miles. The parking garage at Franconia-Springfield is a massive complex - the biggest parking garage I've ever seen. It holds thousands and thousands of cars. We must have reviewed every square inch of concrete looking for a place to park. And we weren't alone. There were dozens of other cars driving around. All of us resembling bees swarming a freshly blooming azalea, hoping for an empty place to park.
Once we finally squeezed our Expedition into a space better suited for a motorcycle, we walked for a mile to get to the Metro station, studied the map, bought our tickets, waited at the terminal and finally boarded the train. 45 minutes and 13 stops later, we got off of the blue line at the Metro Center, switched to the red line, waited again and boarded again. This time there were only 3 stops before we got off, rode an escalator 300 feet back to the sunlight, and then walked another mile to get to the zoo, where the line for the bathroom was about 50 people long.
I found myself asking: Why would anyone do this? But as soon as I asked the question, I had the answer: Because there is no place like the Smithsonian National Zoo. The gorilla exhibit is phenomenal. The Panda bears (if you can spot them) are spectacular. The Cheetah was awesome. On and on I could go - but you get the picture. It's a one of a kind adventure. I sat in traffic, walked forever (my legs hurt a LOT today), and didn't get home until 10:30, but I'd do it again.
It reminded me of a trip I took to Northpoint Community Church in Georgia a couple of years ago. 11,000 people go there every Sunday. I parked a mile away. We were 10 minutes early, but had to sit in the very back row - the last of 5,000 seats available. And when it was time to go, I sat in my car for 30 minutes just to get out of the parking lot. But in spite of it all, crowds come and pack their way in every single Sunday. Why? Because there is no other church in Alpharetta, GA like Northpoint. It was worth it, and I'd do it again.
PCC is not better than the other churches around us...but we are unique. There is no other church in easy driving distance around us like we are. I know this sounds boastful, and I don't mean for it to. But God has given us a very particular atmosphere, granted us a particular skill with technology, and injected us with some particular talent in several areas of ministry.
Sure, we have a responsibility to do the best we can to expand our parking, traffic-flow our hallways and have more seating. But we also should step back and be thankful for these challenges. The crowds are coming. The traffic is rough, the parking is scarce and the seats are hard to find. People might have to leave home early so they can actually get into church on time. But when you ask them if they'd do it again, almost all of them will say, 'you bet'. Because PCC offers a unique experience, and we should be grateful we get to be a part of it.