They are among the first people that visitors and church members encounter as they drive up to the building. Their jobs are critical to the function of the church. Without their presence, chaos would reign in the parking lot, discouraging many people from attending the Rock.
Every Sunday morning, rain or shine, members of the Rock Parking Ministry (RPM) strap on bright yellow vests and headset walkie-talkies. They become the Flaggers, Area Roamers, Team Coordinators, Cone Placement members, and On-Street Traffic Controllers. Their mission is to usher in and greet church attendees, while providing a safe environment for people to arrive at church.
"Safety is our primary concern."
RPM Lay Leader, David Terenzoni, is serious about making safety the first priority when it comes to directing traffic from the busy intersection into the precarious business parking lot.
"It's crucial that we establish consistent traffic flow so we can get cars off Ruffin Road and Aero Drive," says Terenzoni.
Since the first Sunday at the new building, the Lord made it clear to Terenzoni that he be appointed the arduous task of strategically and logically managing the flow of cars pouring into the Rock parking lot each week. Although it was no easy task, it was obvious from day one that Terenzoni was qualified. His previous jobs involved managing factories and large manufacturing facilities.
"It's been a challenge from day one since the move," he admits. "We were basically thrown at the lot." But Terenzoni is quick to acknowledge God's perfect plan in using his gifts and skills to facilitate the parking dilemma.
"I think that many people (at the Rock) are just uninformed," he says. "It's important that the Rock body understands that a lot of what we do on the street is directly linked to our Permit."
The Conditional Use Permit is a license that allows the Rock to hold church functions at the building at Ruffin Road as long as there is minimal disruption to the surrounding neighborhood. The Rock must keep their end of the bargain with the city by maintaining a steady flow of traffic and ensuring street parking is available to the local residents.
If the flow is impeded, cars get backed up, potentially provoking the police and upsetting nearby residents in the neighborhood. Already this week, complaints have been sent out from the residential association of Kearny Mesa in order to appeal that the Rock's permit be revoked. Although San Diego Police and SDPD Traffic Control are proponents of the Rock, an Administrative Review has been scheduled in a month to determine whether the church is in violation.
In order for the traffic control pattern to work efficiently, all positions must be filled in each location throughout the lot and out on the street. Prior to the Ministry Fair, the RPM came up short by about 20 people. Now the amount of participants has nearly doubled, with a total of 35 serving. This is good news, but the need for constant recruiting remains.
The RPM is vital to all church members and visitors attending any of the five services. Without adequate coverage, the parking lot will not function as smoothly, efficiently and as safely as it should. The traffic controllers and parking attendants ensure that pedestrians are not in danger and each car entering and exiting out of the lot does so in a timely and organized manner.
Although their goal of safety is their primary focus, the RPM never forgets the true reason for their mission-serving in the name of Christ.
"We really are trying to serve Jesus and the church. I can tell you that since I started serving, God has blessed me beyond measure," says Brad Purvis, AM Lay Leader. "I don't want anyone coming into the Rock and having a bad experience. In this ministry, we are the first people visitors see when they come to church. I try to be a shinning light in the parking lot."
Purvis' position is in the street, directing traffic from Ruffin Road. Through serving in the RPM he has experienced a deepening camaraderie with his team members, something that could only have been developed, he says, through joining together as a cohesive unit with one purpose and one mind.
The teams pray together before heading out to the front lines of the parking lot, asking for the Holy Spirit's protection of each person driving to any of the Rock's four services. Purvis says that if any of their team members are having a problem out on the street of parking lot, they will pray with each other right there on the spot.
"It's during those times that brings tears to your eyes," says Terenzoni who has witnessed this firsthand. "You're out there with people who really want to serve the Lord."
"And there have been times that I've been totally blessed in helping people find closer spots to park. It makes it worth it to help people and see them happy. By communicating to others over the walkie-talkie, we can accommodate those with special needs and meet the requests of congregation members."
Terenzoni recounts a story of an SUV packed with young women who arrived late for one of the services. Knowing that they had a few handicap parking spots still available, he reassured the passengers that they would still be able to make it in time for the beginning of the church service.
He remembered the smiles on their faces. "They were so relieved!"
Behind the scenes of the parking lot, there are other RPM members that are making sure the functions of the RPM go smoothly. As a core ministry of the Rock, there are dozens of ways to get plugged in. Positions such as prayer coordinators, helps directors, equipment technicians, league coordinators, and special events directors are just a few areas in this ministry that don't require wearing a yellow vest.
Many who can't serve in the parking lot now have the opportunity to participate in other arenas. For instance, the RPM will soon be starting up a softball league, bowling league, and a Hope Prayer Ministry with teleconferencing for those unavailable to meet in person. The purpose of these smaller ministries is to reach out to the community and function as an evangelical outreach.
It's all part of the Rock's mission to save, equip, and send out soul-winners.
"The RPM is not a passive ministry. It's dynamic. We're very pro-active," says Terenzoni. "The people who are serving in the parking ministry are deep believers."
If God's calling you to sign up with the RPM, or if you're just interested in learning more about this Rock Core Ministry, contact David Terenzoni at [email protected].