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Originally posted at

Worship team on point? ✅
Preaching up to par? ✅
Kid’s Programs rocking? ✅

So why aren’t you growing?

Did you know there are hidden growth barriers built right into your building? These hidden traps will pull energy and momentum from even the best churches. Leaving your growth plateaued, your staff burned out, and your vision on hold while you try to figure out what’s going on.

Think about a perfect Sunday morning. It’s a fantastic feeling to look out the window and see the parking lot full of cars 15 minutes before service starts. Your parking team is hard at work, and families are streaming into the building. The kid’s rooms are filling up quick, the hallways are alive with the sounds of friends laughing, and the lights just dimmed in the worship center as the band is firing up that new song they’ve been working on.

It’s a morning most pastors would dream of – but all around, alarm bells are going off. Think about it. You’ve been growing for months, but it’s starting to slow, and new families are not returning like they used to.

Let’s start outside.

Your parking lot is killing your growth.

A full parking lot is a blessing in disguise that can turn away guests and members before they ever even get to the door. After all, who likes fighting for the last place in the lot when the game is on in 30 minutes anyway – “We’ll just catch church next week.” (They said last month)

So how do you solve this problem? As a rule of thumb, we’re looking for 1 space per 2 people, so if you have seating for 500, you’ll need roughly 250 parking spaces in your lot (not counting ADA spaces). If you’re already filling the room, it may be time to look to add another service. You may also be surprised how many spots can fit in your original lot with new traffic patterns and stripes.

Your Kid’s Ministry rooms are killing your growth.

You may have the best children’s pastor ever with that intern willing to eat anything you put in a blender as long as the kids are having a great time – but if they’re crammed shoulder to shoulder, or you have to turn families away because you’re out of space, parents aren’t going to come back. What may feel like a fun, busy weekend to you is actually a crowded safety nightmare to that new parent.

That’s why when we are looking at building or renovating spaces, we use a couple key numbers to guide our decisions. The math looks like this: (these are rough estimates)

  • 45 sq. feet per child for Nursery
  • 35 sq. feet per child for Pre-K
  • 25 sq. feet per child for 1st – 5th grade
  • 25 sq. feet in group spaces

And then don’t forget about hygiene and security. While having five entry points to the kid’s space may seem convenient, a new parent doesn’t know that the strange man who wandered in the back door is actually your head of security.

Your worship center is killing your growth.

And not in the way you think it is.

Sometimes, the answer isn’t more smoke machines, strobe lights, and cowbells – no matter what the tech director says. That’s because when you walk into a room that is nearing capacity, it begins to feel like there are no more seats. This problem is even more challenging when everyone is standing, and the lights are out. Even with the best greeting team, how many people have you seen walk into the room late and leave, only to have 30% of your seats open when the lights come back on.

There are a couple solutions here. The first is, in a way, the simplest – add more services. But there are only so many gatherings you can do before your team revolts. The next is to start looking at a couple more space guidelines as you look to change your room. Because depending on your worship style and size, you’ll need anywhere from 12 – 14sf per person. Any more than that, the room will feel empty and kill the energy. Any less than that, and people will feel crowded and uncomfortable.

Your building is killing your mission.

How many times have you thought, “I’d love to start a homeless ministry on campus, but we don’t have anywhere to prepare food.” Or, “I wish our student ministry attracted more kids in the community,” but you only have an old beat-up classroom for them to meet in.

Now, these are pretty obvious growth forcefields, but what about some less obvious effects. Families who stop attending because their students aren’t engaged. Volunteers are dispirited because they can’t serve in the way they hoped. All of these slight mission/space misalignments end up being an anchor to your mission that, once released, have a habit of launching your vision forward.