Top church growth experts point to three “lids” that will prevent a growing church from sustaining its growth. It doesn’t matter how good your services or adult discipleship programs are. It doesn’t matter how great your youth ministry is or how many attend your annual Christmas production. If you aren’t able to address these three lids on a continual basis, your church will eventually stop growing.

Lid 1: Parking. If it’s difficult for visitors to go to your church, they likely will not go. If they have a bad experience getting into your building or getting out of the parking lot, they likely will not return. Lifelong church members may not care if they have to park in the gravel and walk three blocks, but if you are going to reach new people, you need to strive to make their experience a good one.

Lid 2: Children. If you have a space problem, either real or perceived, then your growth will be limited until the program is addressed. Parents care about their children and therefore want them in a safe, secure environment. They want them to have personal attention. They want them to succeed and to thrive. If it looks like a child is entering a room that is too small, understaffed, or unsafe, then the parents of that child will not return. As a result, your growth will be hindered.

Lid 3: Seats. We’ve all heard of the “80 percent rule.” Church growth experts have said for decades, “When your auditorium reaches 80 percent full, you are at capacity.” Your growth will begin to level off when your space is 80 percent full. For years I have tried to disprove this theory. I wanted our church to be the exception to the rule. But over time, I found it to be true of my church as well. At 80 percent capacity in our auditorium, a married couple or a family of three will not be able to sit together. It’s not likely that their experience will be enjoyable, and they probably won’t return.

What are the next three or four lids at your church? How will you address them? Many times, when you “lift” one lid by adding parking, seats, or classrooms, you will face the next lid very quickly. Other common “lids” include the lack of trained leaders, lack of a comprehensive vision and plan, and financial barriers that forestall meaningful improvement. Every church should have someone who is constantly watching these lids and looking forward to the future growth of the church.

From: “Simply Strategic Stuff” by Tim Stevens and Tony Morgan


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