Rules of Thumb – Part 1

What is a “rule of thumb?” There’s some debate as to the original idea of the phrase, but most attribute the origin to the use of the tip of one’s thumb as measuring one-inch. Of course, each of us have different–sized thumbs, so the idea is that a “rule of thumb” is a generally accurate measure, but not absolute or completely precise?

Okay, what does that have to do with church health? Well, there are some “rules of thumb” in the church world, and before we look at them, we need to understand their nature. They are generally accepted as true, but not absolute, and there’s probably room for your thumb to be a little bigger…you get the idea.

For the next few weeks, we’ll identify some of the most common or most needed rules of thumb for pastors and church leaders. They are the things you need to know! Here’s a few to get us started:

  1. An auditorium is full when the capacity reaches 80% or higher. Yes, there are still seats available, but people will feel crowded or may decide that they won’t be missed if the room is this full. When a congregation consistently hits this mark in its auditorium, it’s time to consider options like additional services or new facilities.
  2. You need one parking space for every two people attending your largest gathering. Many churches can’t grow and their parking is the culprit—a reality they likely haven’t discovered. If your parking lot is nearly full, can you get your regular members to park their cars in less visible or prominent places? Leaving as many of the most visible spots available says there is “room for you” to nearby drivers.
  3. Does the church own at least one acre of land for every 100 members? Yes, there are many different land and building strategies among modern churches, but the space you have and the room you have to grow sends a message to your members and community. If its too crowded, people will often find other places to be.
  4. Do new members received annually through profession of faith and baptism exceed the number lost due to death by a 2:1 margin? For this one, only count the people your church is reaching with the Gospel. A healthy church needs to be reaching people at this rate to continue to move forward.

That’s just a few “rules of thumb” for this week. More next week…

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