I came across this excellent post from marketer/author Andy Sernovitz. It's about companies (see churches) using their extra space for marketing purposes by allowing groups to using the space. It's a great way for companies to be helpful and reach out to groups in their communities --and sell some extra stuff in the process.
It got me thinking, what if we applied this to our parish facilities? What if our stance to the community at large was one of openness and hospitality? Wouldn't that be a great way to show love for our neighbor and build relationships at the same time?
This especially applies to those groups which serve others in our community. I know there are a number of churches allowing groups to use their facilities already (e.g. boy scouts, 12-step groups, etc.) --but what would it look like if we invited people to book time (for free). Even if your parish is short on space (as some are), what about offering your grounds? Your parking lot?
I don't pretend that there's not an obvious cost. There are certain liability and damage issues that need to be addressed. In some cases a certificate of insurance would be needed by the participating group. I would argue that the cost of inaction is far greater.
What would the effect on how our parish community sees your parish? What kind of bridges might it build? What effect would it have on members of our own parish?