Monday Morning Insights

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    Build a New Building or Increase Your Seat Turns?

    “Let’s say you have 400 people worshiping in three weekend experiences. If your worship space has 200 seats, each seat is used 2 times. You have 2 seat turns.

    (Our highest number of seat turns at a campus has been 4.25)

    The higher the number of turns, the better steward you’re being of the building. (In my opinion, many churches are building or relocating when they could be focusing on more seat turns.)”

    Any thoughts?  Seems pretty simple… and a good way to be a great steward of what God has given you in the way of facilities.

    So… what’s your ‘seat turn’?

    Read more here at Swerve...

    Craig Groeschel has an interesting series going on over at his Swerve blog. A recent post told how they at measure 'seat turns'. According to Craig, one of the interesting metrics they measure is how many times one “seat” is used. To find this number, take your total adult weekend attendance and divide it by total seating capacity. Craig continues...


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    1. Peter Hamm on Tue, March 18, 2008

      Only problem is…

      Often you have an early service that doesn’t fill the seats, but is still necessary, because if you didn’t have it, you’d be way over 80% full in the next service.

      We can’t necessarily fill every seat in most churches in most services. People want a little bit of space (they put up with a full house on Christmas and Easter) and guests will sometimes, I think, not come back if it’s too crowded.

      Am I nuts? What do y’all think?

    2. Peter on Tue, March 18, 2008

      Definitely prefer to be a better steward than to just build larger buildings.  If you can’t use the building(s) you have effectively, why would you just want a larger one?  Besides, it’s better to not have to go into debt to build new buildings.  That’s something my current church is learning right now.  If some of the larger givers leave (for whatever reason, good or bad), then the rest of the local body will hurt trying to maintain payments.

      I definitely agree that once you hit ~ 80% capacity you need to add space somehow - perhaps with more services, perhaps with a new location/building.  Of course, it depends on your capacity to start with.  If you’re in a church plant and meeting in a really small location, going to multiple services may not be worthwhile.  However, if you’ve got a location that can seat a decent number of people, then filling up several services makes more sense than increasing the building size more often than not.

    3. jim on Wed, March 19, 2008

      just know that with every seat turn that is one more hour your staff is at church.  I am not against multiple services but I have been a part of a church that had 4 services a weekend and that was exhausting for staff.  Be good stewards of the buildings but make sure you are being good stewards of your people as well.

    4. Peter on Wed, March 19, 2008

      Good point, Jim.  I hadn’t thought about the impact on the Staff.  I realize that it may not be as easy to give the Teaching Pastor a break, but could the other staff members be rotated around to help ease some of their load?  Anyone have any experience with this or thoughts on it?  I’d like to think that if our church gets to the point of having multiple services that we’ll have the staff/volunteers to handle the load without burnout.  I know my current pastor is very big on not letting people get burned out and our Deacon body is also careful with this for our staff.

    5. Camey on Wed, March 19, 2008

      We had been having three services. We’re currently having two in an effort to be better stewards. And those look like our seats too!

      Personally? I’m praying we don’t stay this way for long!

    6. Peter Hamm on Wed, March 19, 2008

      We do three services in a weekend, one on Saturday night, and two on Sunday. The only people that are at every service most of the time are the worship arts pastor (me) and the main teaching pastor (our Senior Pastor).

      Neither of us is, as far as I can tell, even close to burnout. My welcome teams and worship teams rotate out every week. I play on three of the worship teams, so typically I have one weekend “off” per month, but I am, if I’m in town, at all three services.

      But add one more, and I think you’re tipping it too far.

    7. jimmy on Wed, March 19, 2008

      Sounds like Peter and I are in the same boat.  Only you get once a month off!  I’m jealous.  I get a weekend off about every third month.  We had four services (2 Sat, 2 Sun) for a while and there was definitely burnout going on. 

      Now we have 1 Sat, 2 Sun and it’s working pretty good.  I lead music at all three services but I really love it.  I never feel like I’m getting burnt out but my wife can always tell when I’m in need of a break. 

      We too rotate the hospitality team, children’s ministries team and worship team.  We’ve tried adding services, and now we’re trying to raise money for a bigger building.

    8. Adam on Fri, March 21, 2008

      I still can’t figure this one out.  I pastor a small church which has grown exponentially.  I came on the field 3 yrs ago and we quarupled within the first year.  I did a space study and found three variations on our seating.  1.  We have a small balcony, a choir loft, and standard pew seating…80% capicity of all three areas would total to 180.  2.  There was strong resistance to staying seated in the choir loft by the singers and musicians, so we dropped that from our study and found that 80% of the balcony and pews was about 160.  3.  Our balcony is more for “decor” than use.  The heating and cooling are inefficient up there and very few were willing to sit there long.  So we did a study and found that in our pews, 80% is 134.  Our average attendance was 225. 

      We did not have the funds to build, nor did we feel comfortable with debt based on unsustained growth, so we tried to multiply our services.  The problems arose immediately.   1.  In our community and demographic the idea of “not visibly ‘seeing’ every other attendee was disheartening to many and discouragement set in quick.  2.  there was also resistance in changing the format for either service (ie traditional and contemporary), so our choir and musicians did two blended services each week.  We also had problems with volunteers for children’s ministry during the services.

      Ultimately, the congregation percieved the 2nd service as a flop that led to burn out, so we went back to one service and our attendance has dropped considerably.  We talked about off-site worship on sunday mornings, but in a small southern county-seat, the idea was quickly dropped.  My question isn’t if you build or turn over seats, my question is, what do you do when neither is an option?

    9. Abdul on Wed, June 11, 2008

      I love tum!

    10. showerseats on Sun, July 20, 2008

      Sounds good for able bodied people but for the disabled I hope they only have one seat turn.

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    13. accent chairs on Wed, June 03, 2009

      The car does feel the centrifugal effect.

      It is applied at the center of gravity of the car and tends to pull it away from the center of the curve.

      Fortunately, the cars have tires (holding to the road by friction effect) that prevent this from happening.

      But try to take a curve too fast and you will have a good illustration of the centrifugal forces applied on cars…

    14. Leather Sofa on Thu, June 11, 2009

      The higher the number of turns, the better steward you’re being of the building. (In my opinion, many churches are building or relocating when they could be focusing on more seat turns.)”

      Any thoughts?  Seems pretty simple… and a good way to be a great steward of what God has given you in the way of facilities.

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