3 Reasons Why the 80 Percent Rule Is Wrong
The other day, I was catching up with an old friend and mentor who pastors a quickly growing church. Recognizing this growth, he has been challenged by some to offer an additional service based on the “80% rule”.
Consultants and church leaders reference this rule quite a bit, suggesting that when a church auditorium nears 80% capacity, additional growth will be limited and additional service times (or a larger auditorium) should be developed. And while there is some well-argued reasoning behind the rule, there are a few reasons why I refuse to buy into it completely.
1. The 80% rule does not exist in many industries.
People love going to a sold out performance. Five-star restaurants always have a wait time. When the quality of a product is high enough, people do not mind sharing it with many other people.
In fact, they consider the size of the crowd an evidence of the quality of the experience they are about to share. If members are quick to move churches because they have to look for a seat at yours, your environment may not be as engaging as it could be.
2. Crowd density creates energy.
When you go to a concert or sporting event, you hope it’s a packed house. There is a level of energy that exists when many people from various backgrounds come together for a shared purpose.
As your church attendance becomes larger, felt energy becomes greater. To increase service offerings because more people are present is to dissolve the energy that your growth is creating.
I can only imagine the emptiness people feel going from an auditorium at 80% capacity to one at 40% capacity in a week’s time. [Cue hollow echoes and tumbleweed.]
The only time greater attendance does not create greater energy is when there is an absence of shared purpose. If people are becoming frustrated instead of energized by a larger crowd, there may be a lack of clear vision for everyone to be excited about.