“No matter where I’m sitting, the auditorium looks full!”
One of the most important things to have when it comes to church growth is “big MO!” You know, momentum. And one of the most significant contributors to momentum is energy and buzz when it comes to attendance. So, in addition to a number of other things, having an auditorium that looks “full” is extremely important.
There’s nothing that will kill momentum more than having an auditorium that is only “half full.” People come in, look around, and think, “Man, this place isn’t doing very well. I wonder if they’re going to make it?”
A technique we’ve employed around here to help generate and keep momentum is called “virtual capacity.” Simply put it’s the attempt to keep the auditorium looking full, regardless of the number of people that show up for a particular service.
How do we do it?
It’s varying the number of seats we set up and using ropes to block off the back 4 or 5 rows in an attempt to have people sit such that no matter where they’re sitting, it looks full in front of them.
Number of Seats
In our movie theater days, seats were mounted to the floor preventing us from varying the number of seats, at least you would think. Instead, we would move the mobile tech booth up a few rows or back a few rows and use ropes to block off the seats behind the tech booth. And, we would change theaters (from larger to smaller or smaller to larger) a couple of times during the year to keep the auditorium looking full.
Now we have a multipurpose room that requires us to set up chairs each weekend. We set up more in the fall and winter months and less in the spring and summer months. To keep the room looking full, we would rather be scrambling toward the end of worship time to set up “extra” chairs than have an empty looking auditorium.
Blocking Off Rows
In addition to varying the number of seats, we block off the back 4 or 5 rows with ropes, encouraging people to sit in front closer to the stage. Some ignore the ropes and sit wherever they want, but most naturally pick a seat closer to the stage where the ropes are not. As the auditorium fills up, we move the ropes back.
Remember, the key is attempting to keep the room looking full with people thinking, “Man, this place is growing like crazy! Awesome!”