Wednesday, August 29, 2007

WE DIDN'T HIT 1,000, BUT....

Last Sunday was a super day at Chapin Baptist. Each week I can sense a fresh buzz and a sense of anticipation. Momentum is building and morale is high.

We prayed for a thousand last Sunday. And, honestly, we were a good piece away. The total for the three morning services and two student services was 800 on the button. Discouraged? No way! Those numbers represent a 30 percent jump from the previous week. That's remarkable! The new Ignite middle school worship got off to a great start. And a few new small groups began last Sunday. So overall, it was a fantastic Sunday.

Sometimes I'm asked how we count heads. Believe me, it is not scientific. But our ushers have been at it for a long time and they know how to count heads. When you see the tallies in the newsletter, the numbers for worship include the three morning worship services and Sunday evening student services. Most children attend worship and Bible study in the children's building. We don't include the two hours of Sunday morning children's ministry in the worship totals. They are included in the Sunday School totals.

In recent trends we've noticed that the 11:05 service is near capacity. Last Sunday was a case in point. There were 325 in that service with only a scattering of some seats available. Let's say that 340 is capacity. The rule of thumb is that when a worship service or Sunday School class reaches 80 percent capacity, you need to add a new service or class. Why 80 percent? Because the facility is comfortably full at that point. Some suggest you should start making concrete plans for adjustments at 70 percent. 80 percent of 340 is 272. We have been beyond the 272 number frequently during the 11:05 hour.

The staff has entered into some healthy dialogue regarding options. The 11:00 hour remains the preferred time for people to come to worship. We can't assume that guests who come and see a packed auditorium will try one of the other services at an earlier time the next week. No, they will probably try another church. So at some point soon we will have to propose a strategy that will allow more people to attend at 11:05. There are many options, some short-term fixes, others more long-range in nature.

These are the kind of challenges we love to face. But as we face them, it is critical that each of us approach them with the idea that we will do whatever it takes to reach as many people as possible, even if it means changing worship times, watching a video feed, building a bigger facility, or whatever.

Pray for your staff as we continue our dialogue. We actually need to move fairly quickly. We are planning a series in the fall that will encourage every member to invite others to church. We can't be successful with that thrust if we have nowhere to seat people at 11:05. God will give us the wisdom we need to take next steps. In the meantime, don't stop inviting people. We will squeeze and squeeze until we come up with a solution.

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