Align Congregational Objectives with What Matters Most to Jesus
What matters more at your church, your seating capacity or your sending capacity? Seating reflects an internal focus. Sending reflects an external perspective. The first serves the flock, while the second advances the kingdom.
In my post “Three Church Priorities” I wrote, “The triple aim of most churches—attendance, offerings, and facility size—doesn’t matter nearly as much as most people think.” This is the three B’s: butts, bucks, and buildings, which is the focus of most church administrations. I also address this perspective in “7 Things the Church Is Not,” when I warn against adopting a business mindset for Jesus’s church.
A church’s seating capacity reflects the number of people who can attend any given service. The more seats, the more room for people to participate. And more people usually mean more donations. Yep, it’s all about attendance, offerings, and facility (that is, butts, bucks, and buildings).
Though there was a time when the unchurched would go to church on Sunday if they had a spiritual need or were in crisis, those days are gone in our postmodern culture. As a result, the argument that a church needs seating capacity to provide space for the unsaved—though well intended—is no longer relevant.
In truth, seating capacity is about the comfort and convenience of the church members and regular attendees. And the greater the felt need, the greater the response to fix it. When this exists, the building fund is apt to quickly fund, and the capital campaign will end with success.
I can only think of one time when a church’s building campaign wasn’t about seating capacity.
Contrast church seating capacity with a congregation’s sending capacity.
The capacity—or ability—to send people out into the world to tell others about Jesus and advance the kingdom of God measures their commitment to fulfilling the Great Commission, (Matthew 28:18-20). In this, Jesus’s charge to his followers—both two thousand years ago and today—is to make disciples (not converts).
Therefore, the missions fund should matter more than the building fund. The mission’s budget should be bigger—and have more support—than the building budget. And funding missions should receive more attention than funding a facility, not the other way around.
But sending capacity doesn’t just only apply to foreign missions. Though important, only a few are called, able, and willing to move to another country and culture to tell them about Jesus.
Missions are also local.
Churches should also be about sending people out into their own country and, even more so, into their own community. Our community includes our workplace, our neighbors, and our network of contacts. Most everyone has a job. And we all have neighbors and contacts.
A church’s sending capacity should send people around the world and across the street. In this way we are missional in advancing Jesus’s church. In this way, local congregations
should must be focused on their sending capacity.
Our seating capacity should be about providing a place to train people—every attendee—to go out, to be sent. When correctly done, a local church’s seating capacity should equal their sending capacity.
Read more about this in Peter’s new book, Jesus’s Broken Church, available in e-book, audiobook, paperback, and hardcover.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.
Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.