Lifting Your Church’s Lids

Orginally published on Sunday, May 13, 2007 at 3:06 PM
by Todd Rhoades

In their book "Simply Strategic Stuff", Tony Morgan and Tim Stevens of Granger Community Church discuss three ‘lids’ that they say will prevent your church from sustaining continued growth.  According to Tony and Tim, it doesn’t matter how great your weekend services are, or how organized and successful your youth ministry is… if you aren’t able to address these three ‘lids’ on a continual basis, your church will eventually stop growing.  Here’s what Tim has to say about ‘lids’…

LID #1 -- Parking
If it's difficult for newcomers to go to your church, they won't go. If they have a bad experience getting into your building or getting out of the parking lot, they won't return. Lifelong church attendees may not care if they have to park in the gravel and walk three blocks, but if you are going to reach new people, you will need to make their experience pleasant.

LID #2 -- Children
If you have a space problem, either real or perceived, then your growth will be limited until the problem is addressed. Parents care about their children and therefore want them in a safe, secure environment. They want them to have personal attention. They want them to succeed and to thrive. If it looks like a child is entering a room that is too small, understaffed, or unsafe, then the parents of that child will not return. As a result, your growth will be hindered.

LID #3 -- Seats
We've all heard the "80 percent rule." Church experts have said for decades, "When your auditorium reaches 80 percent full, you are at capacity." Your growth will begin to level off when your space is 80 percent full. For years, I tried to disprove this theory. I found it to be true of Granger as well. At 80 percent capactiy in our auditorium, a married couple or a family of three will not be able to sit together. It's not likely that their experience will be enjoyable and they probably won't return.

Has your church experienced these lids? How have you creatively removed these lids? If you are just now determining your lids, how will you address them? I'd love to hear your comments...


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 TRACKBACKS: (0) There are 5 Comments:

  • Posted by Bernie Dehler

    Helpful insight, thanks!  The “seating” problem was news to me…


  • Posted by Stewart

    Experiencing all three all the time. What I’ve found is not only will you level off but you will actually shink. Last year we maxed out our space. We were adding chairs every Sunday to the point where we couldn’t add anymore. Leadership hesitated to add a service or move to a bigger venue and now six months later attendance is back down to 75% capacity.

    Lessons? (1) You only have a few months to solve the problem so get on it quickly. (2) Osilating between 75% and 85% capacity takes great energy.

  • Posted by

    We are experiencing the seating issue now. We try to encourage people to come to our earlier service whenever possible, but as months progress, more and more go to the later one… Whatcha gonna do? We are starting an agressive building program, because we need the seats for the ministry. Plain and simple.

  • Posted by

    Absolutely right! 

    We were struggling with all three!  We went to two services, then three (one Saturday night) - but we found ourselves right under the “lid” again and again.  When we added on - we quickly filled up to the new capacity and for the most part stopped growing

    Just recently we bought a 15 year old Wal-Mart building and now we have ample parking - ample seating and room for the kids.  Guess what?  We have jumped 250 people in just the first month in our new facility - up about 30% from the first three months of 2007.  And yes we were in the old building “under the lid” for those months.

    I’m not suggesting that you always have to build - but being creative in making room is a must.  One thing we did was create a longer turn around time between our early and late services on Sunday - that gave time for folks to fellowship a little after the 9:00 service and still be gone before the bulk of our 10:45 crowd arrived. 

    I will add this… make sure if you do build that your architect or design team has a real grasp on the growth you anticipate and knows just how much space children need.  Many well meaning church leaders think that just because a child is small they only need a small space… WRONG!  WRONG!  WRONG.  Best suggestion - make sure some of your professional educators give some advice here.

  • Posted by

    Here is the solution: Multiply.  Church planting is the way to go.  I have never been in favor of a building expansion program or multiple services.  If the church is at or near capacity, pray for leaders to come forward to form a new fellowship.  Since the church is essentially for “the fellowship of believers”, we will have more meaningful fellowship in a smaller church as well.

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