Rules of Thumb – Part 5

Let’s take one final look at some more “rules of thumb” for congregational management. Remember, the idea of “rule of thumb” is a general estimate, as there will be churches that succeed, even though they may not hit every recommended measure.

1. You can typically park 100-125 cars per acre. If you use an average of 2.0 – 2.5 people per car, you can see that you’ll need an acre of parking for every 200-250 people attending a single service.

2. Unless you have twice the parking you need, you’ll want to plan no less than 30 minutes between service times so you can “turn over” the parking lot. If you have simultaneous Sunday school and worship services, you’ll have to count attendance in both when calculating your parking needs.

3. With pew seating, you’ll need to calculate 20″ – 24″ of seating space per person. Your architect may have used 18″ when calculating your seating capacity, but apparently more architects need to go to church 🙂 ’cause people won’t sit that close in pews. Individual seating (chairs) is the only way to encourage closer proximity.

4. Don’t forget the 80% rule–it applies to classrooms too. Once a room is 80% full, growth will slow until a strategy for more space (larger room, multiple services, etc.) is implemented.

5. Every church must reach new people, even to overcome the “natural” losses experienced each year. On average, 1-2% will be lost due to death, 3-4% will transfer to another church, and 2-6% will typically stop attending church altogether each year for a variety of other reasons. That’s 6-12% of anticipated loss! If your loss percentages are higher, find out why and work to address the issue (i.e. if death loss is higher, you may have an older congregation and need to find ways to reach young families, etc.).

That last one’s not a lot of fun to think about, but even the healthiest churches can anticipate a loss of around 10% of their congregation each year. If you’re in a particularly transient area (i.e. military community, etc.) your numbers may be higher and don’t necessarily mean your church is unhealthy. They do, however, mean your church needs to be reaching and discipling more new people each year. If you don’t…well, you can do the math.

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