Missional Transformation is a process where believers align themselves (passions, desires, behaviors, habits) with the missionary purpose of Jesus.
Missional Transformation requires significant shifts in the way you participate with Christ and His kingdom.
SHIFT 3: From Seating Capacity to Sending Capacity
Most churches that are growing must sooner, rather than later, deal with issues of seating capacity. This is the natural consequence of numeric growth. There are a limited number of seats available. Often this problem is overcome by setting up more chairs, repeating the same service at another time, or building bigger buildings. Typically, churches that are growing will keep on building bigger auditoriums/sanctuaries. They’ll keep on adding service times and they’ll maximize their available space.
Recently there has been a growing trend to offer overflow rooms where a video of the worship service can be seen on a monitor or large screen. Some churches have even offered more “casual” environments as video venues to increase their seating capacity. Most pastors understand that in order to sustain numeric growth, churches need to offer the largest number of seats at the best possible time. Churches that fail to increase their seating capacity will often plateau or even decline in attendance.
One common church growth principle was known as “social strangulation.” If a church is unable to expand their seating when they reach 80% of capacity, they often fail to grow to fill every seat. Many worshippers desire an amount of open space (empty seats) around them. As capacity is nearly reached, the lack of open space can make people feel uncomfortable. In order to avoid this predictable problem, churches often focus on adding seats, adding services or constructing new buildings to increase seating capacity before 80% of the seats are occupied.
How did the early church deal with this problem? How did they accommodate more than 3,000 believers starting from Pentecost - Day One? Did they set up more chairs? Did they offer more services? Did they have overflow rooms with video? Did they build bigger buildings? Obviously not. They didn’t have any seating capacity issues because they met from house to house. They had an infinite capacity because of this. As Neil Cole has observed, “If we could figure out how to do church without needing buildings, we would be better off.” (Organic Church, p 37)
Imagine not having to build a bigger building. You wouldn’t have to hire an architect or initiate a capital campaign or pull permits or endure inspections or install fire sprinklers or argue over the color of the carpet. Imagine having a limitless capacity for growth because the church didn’t gather in one place on Sundays – but gathered all over the place all week long. By empowering believers to worship together in homes, a church’s seating capacity becomes less important. The focus shifts from seating to sending.
The task of pastors is to equip the saints. If believers are meeting in homes all over the place, then the need to equip becomes a higher priority. Pastors can’t be focused only on preparing a message, they must focus on preparing messengers. Those who are being sent in community to reach those in the culture with the gospel need to be equipped for the task.
By focusing on their sending capacity (the ability to equip an increasing number of local missionaries), churches will quickly exceed their seating capacity. The great news is that it won’t matter. Money can be utilized to train and equip more missionaries because it’s not being consumed on creating more seats. That’s Missional Transformation!missional church