In As You Like It, William Shakespeare speaks about life in the following manner: “All the world’s a stage, / And all the men and women merely players; / They have their exits and their entrances; / And one man in his time plays many parts, / His acts being seven ages.” He went on to describe seven stages a person moves through over the course of his life: infant, school-boy, lover, soldier, justice, wise old man, and eventually a return to childhood. We know from experience that there is some truth to Shakespeare’s assessment of the cycle of life. What we may not realize is that churches, too, typically have a life cycle.
In the beginning of its life cycle, the church normally enjoys a season of growth. Its members are excited about its potential and they are all united around the common goal of ensuring the success of the church. They are outwardly focused because they have passion to bring new people into the body of Christ. After about 20 years, the growth begins to slow and the church may enter a season of plateau with little if any real expansion. How long this phase lasts depends upon the church, but it may continue for 15 years or so. When the church reaches 35-40 years old, it enters a critical phase of its life cycle. At around 40 years of age, a church will either overcome the obstacles that hinder its growth, or it will begin a period of decline. I believe that The Capital Church is at just such a critical time in its life cycle.
There is no doubt that God is up to something at our church. People are excited. You can sense the Spirit of God at work in our services. We are seeing new people and some old friends and family coming home. Those things are great signs that we are moving forward. The Capital Church is growing! We have averaged over 400 in attendance since the beginning of the year. To God be the glory!
Growth is what we have been praying for, but it does present us with challenges. One of the most immediate challenges we are facing with the growth of our church is the seating capacity of the sanctuary. Excluding seating on the platform, our sanctuary can comfortably accommodate 352 people. Of course, we can fit more into the building, but we know from research into growing churches that when a building exceeds 70-80% of its capacity, it inhibits new people from coming. We have exceeded that figure for many months. This is why the board, the staff and I have been strategizing about how we might overcome this challenge. We believe the best way of addressing the issue at this point would be to start a second service.
Having a second service will be more work. It will require more flexibility. It will necessitate change. But, these things are just growing pains.
Beginning Easter Sunday, we will hold a weekly service at 8:30 in addition to our 10:45 service. Especially at first, the 8:30 service will be very similar to the 10:45 service. In time, we may need to adjust the time and/or target audience of one or both of the services. We can also look in hope towards the time when we will add yet more services to accommodate the ministry of the church. We will be sharing more information about this issue as well as the vision and direction of the church throughout the month of March. Please make a commitment to be with us for this important season of laying groundwork for our future.
I know you share my desire to see this church grow, so I want to ask you to join with me and the other church leaders in seeking God for His direction and wisdom for what lies ahead of us. We want to do whatever it takes to obey our Lord’s commandment to make disciples—both here in the Raleigh area and to the uttermost parts of the earth.