So you’re on the launch pad…
Pre-Easter is the most popular time of the year to launch a new church. I’m not sure why it has become so, but more denominations and coaches have bought into the pre-Easter, or Easter Sunday time frame to launch.
Obviously, Easter is generally the strongest attendance day of the year. Just as obviously, the weakest day of the year is the Sunday after Easter. What to do? Statistically, you will lose a significant percentage between launch Sunday and the Sunday following. Fifty percent is not uncommon. What happens to your critical mass if you lose 30-50% of your launch attendees and then slide into the lowest attended Sunday of the year?
This is a cross denominational problem. The Roman Catholic Church has a name for each Sunday of the calendar year. Want to guess what they call the Sunday after Easter? Low Sunday. It was re-named by Pope John Paul II in 2000 to “Divine Mercy Sunday.” That was a good call for JP2. Every pastor in America is praying for Divine mercy on the Sunday after Easter – as soon as his head usher tells him how many folks attended that day J.
There are at least seven such events every year. We call them the seven deadly Sundays. They are the Sundays after: Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Super Bowl Sunday, and the two time-change Sundays.
Actually, any four day week-end will have the same impact on your attendance. Many States have special days they celebrate. For instance, Utah has “Pioneer Day,” on July 24th. If it falls on a Monday or Friday, that Sunday is a deadly day. Actually, if you planting in Utah, most Sundays will look bleak.
Let me suggest…
First and foremost, keep in mind that God is sovereign in all places and at all times.
Secondly, come to a settled understanding of critical mass.
There are two kinds of critical mass. The first is theological. Critical mass occurs at any time/place where three people are present and Jesus is one of them. We all agree with that cerebrally, but viscerally – if we’re honest – we won’t feel good about those numbers unless you’re in a rural village of 18 in central China.
Practical critical mass is another animal. Twenty people in your living room is critical mass; twenty people in a high school gymnasium is not. So ‘practical’ critical mass is the number of people relative to the size of the space they occupy.
The solution – if your facility allows – is to adjust the size and seating arrangement for your people on those “low” Sundays.
First, if the chairs are movable take out 30%. Keep them nearby in the event that you need them. Increase the space between the chairs so that there is a 10 inch space (right to left) between the seating surfaces, and 30-36 inches between the rows. This will look goofy when the seats are empty, but when they are filled with people – a 30% smaller crowd will still fill your space and those present will have a “feel” of critical mass.
Lastly, when you’ve had one of those really bad days – attendance low, offering stunk, sermon sucked – ask yourself the question: “How many people did I deserve to preach to today?” Yep… the answer is always zero. If only one person shows up – you got grace.