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How Full is Too Full Sunday Morning?

Q. I've heard that if the sanctuary or meeting hall is too full on Sunday morning it will discourage growth. Is that true? At what point does that occur?

A. Church consultants often use the figure of 85 percent, says Rev. Bob Hill, district e xecutive of the Unitarian Universalist Association's (UUA's) Southwest District. But there are other factors to consider, Hill says.

Visitors need to be given the impression that their presence has been anticipated and is welcomed: "Ask, for example, the following: Is it easy to determine where to park? Is it easy to find the main entrance and, once one is inside, where the service is held, where religious education is held, where the bathrooms are? Is the place neat and clean? Are there greeters? And, are there plenty of chairs available?"

Compared to the other investments required for creating and maintaining our churches and their programs, the provision of empty chairs as a hedge against the possibility of slowing growth is a low-cost choice.

About the Author

  • Donald E. Skinner was the founding editor of the InterConnections newsletter for congregational leaders and a senior editor of UU World from 1998 until his retirement in 2014. He is a member of the Shawnee Mission Unitarian Universalist Church in Lenexa, Kansas.

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