The Impact of Church Facilities on Church Growth

Posted by on Jul 20, 2014 in Sunday School | 0 comments

The debate addressing the impact of church facilities on church growth has gone on for years. Some believe that new buildings will always lead to church growth. They have a

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“build it and they will come mentality”. Others have a more conservative viewpoint, which is expressed in a desire to address new facilities when the present facilities are full. So, the question is, “Who is right?” Much research has been done and most experts agree that between 70 – 80 percent of all churches are either plateaued or declining. The most common cause for this situation, related to facilities, is the lack of space. The lack of growth in many churches has been caused by poor planning or no planning at all related to facilities. There is a great need for church leaders to better understand how to plan for church growth as it relates to the area of facilities.

When a church facility is approximately 80 percent full, the likelihood for growth or the potential for growth is minimal. The “80 percent” rule is not only applicable to the entire church facility but also to the basic elements within the facility. An example of this would be a church that has ample space for adults but in the preschool area all rooms are at 80 percent of capacity. The result will be that the growth of the entire church will be hindered. Another example would be a church with plenty of space in worship but the parking lot is full. The result will be – no growth.

The opening paragraph asked, “Who is right?” The answer is “neither.” The truth is that there is a very delicate balance that must be kept. Too early and the space will be difficult to pay for but too late and there will be no reason for additional space. This is why church leaders should be ever diligent in evaluating their church facilities. The aspects of church facilities that should be evaluated are land, parking, worship and education space.

As a general rule, each acre of useable land that the church owns should allow for 100- 125 people in attendance. In evaluating the worship space, twenty-one inches per person per pew will accommodate all ages. To determine worship space capacity, measure the length of the pews and divide the total inches of pews by twenty-one. Parking is also very important and without it churches cannot grow. To determine a church’s possible attendance based on parking space, count the number of identifiable parking spaces and multiply the total by two.

Evaluating education space is more complex than any other area. The education space is usually divided into four age groups: preschool, children, youth and adults. To evaluate the space it is necessary to know the square footage of each room. Once the square footage is determined, divide it by the square feet recommended per person. Each age group is different: preschool – 35, children – 25, and youth and adults – 18. It is also important to know that if a church has no rooms available to start a new class then the church is limited in its growth potential. Starting new classes is critical to church growth and without space for a new class; growth will be minimal even if the existing classrooms have space for new members.

In all areas of church facilities it is very important to study the quantity that they will provide but it is equally important to study the quality of the space. If a facility is unkempt, cluttered and dirty it portrays the wrong image to the community. If a facility is run down and out dated guests will not have a favorable first impression of the church.

These are just a few issues related to church growth and church facilities. If your church needs assistance in better understanding your facilities, please visit the Sunday School/Open Group Ministries of the Georgia Baptist Convention website at ssog.gabaptist.org.

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Are We Damaging Sunday School by Enlisting Warm Bodies?

Posted by on Apr 14, 2014 in Enlistment, Leadership, Prayer | 0 comments

mentoringOn Sunday at Salem Bushy Baptist Church, the older youth Sunday School teacher resigns because he is moving out of state this week. During the Sunday School hour, the Sunday School director, Joe, brainstorms who might fill the spot. Before worship, he catches a younger deacon, Bill, to ask him to serve. Though Bill is serving on a couple of committees and as deacon, he senses how desperate Joe feels about the position and he agrees to teach for a few weeks. Joe agrees to keep looking.

The deacon teaching the class is struggling, but the previous conversation was the last time Bill talked to Joe. The deacon does not seem to be connecting with the teens. Attendance has become irregular and even declines. All the “new” youth teacher knows to do is teach. He neglects fellowship, ministry, and outreach.

What is wrong with this scenario? Sadly this situation plays out in many churches. The first area of neglect is prayer. Jesus in Matthew 9:38 called us to pray for harvesters not just take matters in our own hands:

Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest. (HCSB)

Jesus himself spent time praying overnight (Luke 6:12) before calling the Twelve:

During those days He went out to the mountain to pray and spent all night in prayer to God. (HCSB)

When we seek Him and His leadership first, we avoid making mistakes in enlistment. And we avoid missing choices that are less obvious to us personally. God knows people and the need better than we do. In a previous post, Multiply Your Leaders: Enlist, I mentioned these important steps:

  • Pray,
  • Observe,
  • Take them with you,
  • Debrief what they did, and
  • Ask them to serve.

Imagine instead of the opening enlistment scenario, this had been the case:

Joe spends time praying. God lays Bill on his heart, so Joe begins to observe Bill to see how God is at work in his life. Joe asks Bill to help him teach the youth class one week (and again a couple weeks later). Then they have lunch and debrief what happened on Sunday. A week later, Joe asks Bill to help him make a visit. After the visit on the way back to the church, they talk about how the visit went. A couple weeks later, Joe asks Bill and his wife to help prepare for and carry out the youth fellowship. As they are cleaning up after the event, Joe asks Bill how he thinks things went and how they could be even more effective later.

Joe has been praying for Bill all along. Over coffee, Joe asks Bill if he would serve on the Sunday School team as the older youth Sunday School teacher. He begins the conversation like this:

“Bill, I have been praying for the last few weeks for someone to serve on our Sunday School team as an older youth Sunday School teacher. And God laid you on my heart. So I began watching what God was doing in your life. And it seemed that God has given you favor with God and man in your service as deacon and other church duties. And several have made affirming comments about your comments and involvement in your adult Sunday School class.

“Bill, I have also asked you to help me with the youth class. When you helped me teach, the youth were very attentive in class. Your comments about the lesson and the teens afterwards at lunch were on target. Then when we made the visit and planned the fellowship, you were a big help. You really seemed to connect. It is obvious that you realize how important this position is and how much the teens need the right leader. I feel like God over these weeks has affirmed you as the one. I want to ask you to pray for a week about joining our team as the older youth teacher.”

What if instead of a warm body, you followed God’s leadership and enlisted a God-called, passionate individual? What if following His leadership, you gathered experiences and “evidence” to share with the candidate? What if you were able to anticipate his/her objections of “I am too busy” and “I am not as good of a teacher as you are” by addressing the importance of the role and review experiences from the previous weeks?

When we rush, we often make mistakes. Be patient. Be in prayer. Be persistent in pursuing those God desires to serve. Enlist and send them into the harvest.

_____________________________________________

Darryl Wilson serves as Sunday School & Discipleship Consultant for the Kentucky Baptist Convention. He served as Minister of Education in five churches in Kentucky and South Carolina and is the author of The Sunday School Revolutionary!, a blog about life-changing Sunday School and small groups.

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Options for New Groups

Posted by on Aug 31, 2013 in 31 Days of Extreme Sunday School | 0 comments

The line “We have never done it that way before”, still brings some challenges to some folks in many of our churches.  But, when considering possibilities for new groups, we must be willing to get out of our comfort zones.  We may even need to break with some of our existing traditions that hold us back from new ideas.

I heard a statement that still rings in my ears concerning issues that hold us back:

“Tradition is the living faith of the dead…traditionalism is the dead faith of the living.”

When two out of three people in our nation are not involved in Bible study, it is time to look at options to reach them.

What should we consider?

  • When should we meet?  Forty percent of individuals age 18-40 cannot (or will not) come to Bible Study on Sunday.  Are we willing to change? We can offer options Sunday morning, night or weekdays
  • Where should we meet?  Many others do not feel wanted or accepted come to “church”.  The number one complaint, valid or not, is still  “The Church if full of hypocrites”.  But they would come to a home for a family gathering.  Let’s be willing to consider possibilities.
  • What should we study?  People are looking for answers to issues they face every day.  Studies on family, finances, and future challenges are still hot topics that attract all ages.  Those could be introductory studies that lead to strong inductive Bible study.  Let’s meet the needs of those in our communities.
  • Where can we find leaders?  Seventy-five plus percent of our people are sitting in our present classes and pews not being utilized and waiting to be asked.  Consider some of the suggestions by our writers for enlisting and equipping workers.  Enlist to specific responsibilities with specific equipping for the specific task.  God will provide the right leaders.  He has always done that for His people.
  • Who will be the target audience?  Look at your congregation and look at the community.  How do they match up?  Far too many of our churches do not reflect the community around them.  Look at groups of people not being reached.  Look at friends not involved in small group Bible study.  They are ready to be asked.

The late Andy Anderson, founder of the Growth Spiral strategy, was an amazing individual when looking at options for reaching people.  His statement still resonates.  “We must consider asking anyone we can, anywhere we can, anytime we can, any way we can, every time we can if they would like to be a part of a small group Bible study.  Many will say yes, and they will bring their friends.”  That is still a great practice.

Prayerfully accept the challenge.  Be willing to step out of the traditional mold.  Offer options.

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