When Saddleback Church was beginning to grow, Rick Warren discovered that long term you can only fill a worship center to about 80% of capacity. While there are many different factors involved in this principle, including how multiple services impact it, the principle holds. Here are some strategies that will help you maintain 80% capacity and possibly exceed it short term.
1. Aggressive ushers
The most important factor in filling every seat is your usher team. There should be an usher in every aisle from the time the doors are opened to encourage attendees to please move to the center of the row before sitting down. The middle seats are the hardest to fill & it is much easier to move people to these seats prior to their being seated. This happens as a result of proper training of your usher team and their actually using “words” in carrying out their responsibilities as opposed to being an immovable object in the aisle that guest have to maneuver around to find a seat.
2. Spacing of the seat rows
If there is ample space between seats, it is much easier to get people to those center seats. The occupancy of the extra seats that are gain by having the rows super close together is outweighed by leaving ample room between rows so people have room to maneuver without stepping on those already seated who, by the way, no longer have to worry about smelling the breakfast breath of the person behind them.
3. The order of worship
When people are standing it is very difficult to see empty seats in the interior of the rows. Be creative in the early part of your service to have people sit for a brief period of time to give your usher team time to seat people. If when we get to heaven we find Angels singing while seated…..some just won’t be able to handle it.
Extremely dim or low lighting is often planned at the beginning of a service to create an “experience” or, the new term, a “moment”. The “experience” that is often created is a late arriving guest being held outside the worship center & missing said “experience” or an on time worshipper needing to go to the emergency room to have their toes X-rayed.
5. Closing rear sections until the front sections are
I know sister “I been sitting here since Jesus fed the 5,000” may be upset that that you won’t let her go to “her” seat 30 minutes before the service begins. But by using ropes or stanchions to control where & when people sit, you will be much better at filling every seat. You may loose dear sister “my seat will only go in my seat”. But if you are have capacity crowds & are not doing everything possible to find a seat for every person, you are loosing people every week already.
6. Opening your worship center
Set a specific, uniform time to open the doors to the worship center. Rather than allowing people to enter at any time, keep the doors closed until you have done your security check, the worship team has finished preparations, and your ushers have met & prayed for the service. This will allow you to control where people sit and be more efficient.
These 6 ideas will help you maximize your worship space, but they won’t just happen by emailing them to your volunteers. The answer is to properly train your team to realize that every occupied seat is a place for someone to have an encounter with the living God.
Once a church has gone through the task of selecting the campaign company, it is time to get to know the consultant. Unfortunately, this is an “on the job” experience. While every church should insist on the sales presentation being made by the consultant who will be assigned to them, the relationship is not developed until the work begins. While evaluating the decision you have made, here are 5 things you should never hear your consultant say.
1. I can raise 2 to 3 times your annual budget.
The truth is, neither your consultant nor your staff can raise a penny. God holds all the resources in His hands. It is the consultant’s job to assist the pastor in leading his people to get in a spiritual position where God can lower the resources needed to accomplish the vision of the church. The campaign must be about the vision, not the building.
- I need more time in front of your congregation.
Other than training sessions, your consultant shouldn’t need time in front of the congregation. The Senior Pastor is the shepherd. The sheep hear his voice and follow him. The consultant is a hireling.
- It will be 3 weeks before I can be there.
A key ingredient in a consultant doing a good job is his availability during the campaign. When your consultant says he cannot get to your campus to help you deal with an issue for at least 3 weeks, he is telling you he is working with too many churches. Up front, ask how many churches your prospective consultant will be assisting during this time.
- I told ya’ll that wouldn’t work.
A church hires a consultant to give them sound counsel, and his counsel should be trusted and followed. However, the role of the senior pastor must be clearly understood. Under God, he is the final authority. He knows his church better than the consultant ever will. When the decision is made to go a different route than what the consultant has suggested, that becomes the plan. No one outside those in that meeting should ever know the consultant suggested a different plan. It then becomes the consultant’s job to make the chosen plan as successful as possible.
- Follow-up visits are limited.
The public phase of the campaign is just the beginning. The 2 or 3 years of the giving period is the key to the campaign being a success. Assistance and visits by the consultant should not be limited. He should be available to the church to lead them throughout that giving period.
To keep from hearing these statements from your campaign consultant, ask the right question before you hire the company who will assist you with your campaign.
President, Partners In Church Consulting
Being a consultant allows me the opportunity to hear many stories about earlier building campaigns that were failures. Most of the time I do not hear these stories until I have agreed to take on the church as a client. Then the story unfolds. Usually the reason for the failure is penned on the pastor, the consultant, or the older people in the congregation who just did not think we needed any more buildings.
However, I have never heard the reason for failure explained as “there was too much emphasis given to the vision”! The truth is, the reason many campaigns fail is that the campaign is about the building or land. A campaign is not about your buildings–it is always about your vision. People will not give sacrificially for a building, but they will for a vision.
Buildings exist only for the purpose of helping a church accomplish the vision that God has given them. There is no other justification for a building. When the focus of a building campaign is the building–the vision is blurred.
Every church has a core group of people who have embraced the vision. For the most part, this group does not need a campaign. They know the vision, they understand it, and they totally support it. All they need is a commitment card.
A campaign is for those who have not embraced the vision. A key purpose of the campaign is to enlarge the group of people who have caught the vision. People give to a vision, not to a building.
There are many reasons churches are small. Every small church is small because of a combination of many of those reasons, but there seems to be one common denominator: Small churches think small. Or I should say, “smaller churches think small”.
There are some churches that are 1,000, 2,000 or even larger that are no larger than they are because they still think small. They have grown in-spite of themselves. That small thinking keeps them from being churches of 5,000 or 10,000. At the same time, there are some churches of 100, 200 or 500 that in all reality should be much smaller, but because they think “big”, they have grown.
Here are 10 examples of how small churches think small in contrast to how large churches think:
Small Church — Large Church
Last minute — Advance planning
Assume everyone knows — Assumes nothing
Makes excuses for failures — Honest evaluations
Staff does everything — Utilizes volunteers
Fears upsetting members — Fears the lost going to hell
Postpones making strategic decisions until everyone is on board — Leadership leads
Refuses to remove ineffective leadership — Does what’s best for ministry
Doesn’t hold staff accountable — High value on accountability
Refuses to call volunteers to high level of commitment — Realizes people respond when adequately challenged & trained
Often talk about quality, seldom about quantity — Knows numbers represent lives
The key for many churches to experience the growth God desires for them the leadership must learn to think “big”. The best way to change your thinking: Be around people who think the way you want to think. WE CAN HELP YOU THINK BIG!
One of the greatest challenges of any organization that depends on volunteers is how do you hold those volunteers accountable? Since they are volunteers, the attitude is often “if we hold them accountable, they will quit”. The truth is just the opposite. If we don’t hold them accountable, we send the message that the job they have volunteered for is really not important.
The best person to hold a volunteer accountable is the volunteer leader on whose team they serve, rather than a staff person. It is this person who they interact with on a regular basis. They are also the first one to know when a volunteer drops the ball. And lastly, it is volunteer to volunteer which is much more powerful that when a paid staff person is involved.
Here are 4 keys to holding volunteers accountable:
1. Make sure that all expectations are very clear. When they are recruited, give them those expectations in writing. It is very difficult to add to those expectations after the fact. Don’t make it too complicated. Just deal with the basics. Beyond the spiritual requirements your church might require for any volunteer, you might ask your volunteers to commitment to:
A. Serve your time, on time!
B. Respond to your scheduling system. (Such as planning center.)
C. Get your own replacement
2. Promise them accountability from the beginning. Let them know that they will be held accountable from the very moment you recruit them. This eliminates surprises when you have to have that conversation. It also helps to establish the importance of their job.
3. Respond quickly. Don’t put it off. The goal of holding someone responsible is not to rebuke or chastise, but to affirm and challenge. It lets the person know they are valued and their place of service is important. When it becomes evident that a team member is either very late or a “no show”, some of our leaders will text them with “Are you close?”, “Who did you get to serve for you today?” or “Is everything ok?”.
4. Follow through! Don’t let it slide. If you promise accountability from the beginning, it is imperative you provide accountability. Three things a meeting or phone call about accountability does:
A. Confronts: Make sure volunteer agrees he/she did not come through. Make
sure it was not a miscommunication or other “technical” issue.
B. Coach: Use it as a teaching opportunity on the role their responsibility has in
accomplishing the vision God has given your church.
C. Compliment: Affirm the volunteer. Let them know what they do right and
how much they mean to the organization.
The stronger your accountability strategy, the more committed your volunteers!
Working with Lamar Slay and Partners in Church Consulting is unlike any capital campaign we have ever embarked on . . . mainly because it wasn’t one! Instead Lamar led me, as Lifegate Church’s Point Man, along with all of our leaders on a very simple, doable journey to help our people experience an unprecedented level of purpose, unity, and vision which hasn’t let up but only continues to increase.
We were faced with trusting God to inspire our people to make a two-year commitment to trust Him for at least 3 million dollars and had 4 short months to do it because of our closing schedule. When we asked if he thought it was even possible he responded by saying, “if you’re committed and willing to work hard, God can do anything.”
At our commitment service people gave $900,000 in cash and made commitments with that amount included which totaled 4 million dollars. We are now a year and two months into the journey and are right on schedule to see the commitments met on time. In addition, our general fund giving has increased over 14.2% over this time last year. Are you ready for a change that is both positive and produces? Please consider working with Lamar on your next project.
With Deep Gratitude for Lamar Slay and Partners in Church Consulting,
Pastor Les Beauchamp, Senior Pastor
Pastor’s Leadership: 4 essential areas!
Leadership is the key to the success of any organization. Whether it is the CEO, Elected Politician, Coach, or Senior Pastor, the organization’s degree of success will be directly related to its leader’s ability to lead all aspects of the organization. In a church, there are 4 key areas in which a Pastor must lead in order for the church to effectively accomplish the Great Commission—which is the Biblical standard of success for a church. Those key areas are:
1. Vision and Direction
The Senior Pastor’s greatest responsibility is to receive, clarify, and communicate the vision that God has for the church he leads. The vision cannot be something that is voted on or developed by a committee. It must be burned into the heart of the pastor in such a way that everything he does, every decision he makes, and every person he hires is based on that action, decision, or person’s ability to advance the vision. It is a single focus that controls all things.
A pastor who cannot effectively lead his staff will never be able to lead his congregation. I am amazed when I hear a pastor say he cannot get his staff to accomplish different tasks. That is an indictment either on the pastor’s ability to lead or his ability to cast vision to his top level of leadership. When a pastor allows his fear of reprisal from his congregation to stop him from making a decision that if left unmade will impede the vision, he has abdicated his role as a leader.
The vision must control programing—not strong staff, not involvement of prominent members or their kids, not an activity that has been successful, and not his own personal preferences. The vision demands activities and programs that are not the result of convenience and longevity but or the results of prayer, strategic planning, and defined objectives necessary to accomplish the vision.
While no church should be in bondage to debt, they should also not be held captive by the fear of spending. The Senior Pastor must lead in establishing a healthy attitude toward stewardship when it comes to spending money to attract, reach, and disciple the unchurched. Whether it is for facility expansion, special guest, or “out-of-the-box” thinking to reach the lost, good stewardship demands that priority in spending be given to these efforts.
There is no substitute for leadership. There is also no hiding the results of poor leadership. An autopsy of most dead churches would reveal a lack of a clearly defined and communicated vision that is being carried out by unfocused staff who spend their time spend God’s money attempting to revive programs that are far removed from the objectives of the vision.
We don’t have funerals for churches. Dead churches aren’t buried. They just continue to suck the life out of a local group of believers who, if led effectively, could be revived. A funeral would be better!