- Don’t walk on the grass
- Don’t smoke in the airplane lavatory
- Don’t talk
- No swimming
- No diving
- Do not block the driveway
- Do not cross the white line
These are just a few of the rules we love to break. In fact, it just feels like some rules were made to be broken. Here’s one rule, though, as a Bible study leader, that you’d better not break if you want your group to grow.
The 80% Rule
This little rule simply says that your room is going to be full when it gets to 80% of its capacity. At 80% capacity, your group will stagnate and stop growing. Oh, it might keep growing temporarily as you break the 80% rule, but in time attendance will level out and many times it drops below the 80% level.
When a room is over 80% full, it looks full visually. Sure there are empty seats, but when a person walks into the room, it seems as though there isn’t a place for them. Many times the only places left are right up front and in the center of the row.
Do the Math
Let’s take the place where my Bible study group meets. We are in a classroom on our church campus. It’s a nice sized room with 20 chairs. 80% of 20 is 16, and that’s about what we average each week in attendance. I might set up a few more chairs to help us grow. Let’s say I do that and we cram 24 chairs into our classroom. At 80%, the room is going to feel full when 19 people are present. I simply don’t have enough space to continue growing my Bible study group.
There are two main solutions to the 80% rule when attendance gets close to that percentage:
- Find a bigger room
- Start a new group
The second option is much better than the first for any number of reasons. Sadly, many groups won’t stand for the second option, so haggard church staff leaders place groups in larger and larger spaces. Growth isn’t a bad thing…it’s a very good thing. But there’s “good growth” and there’s “bad growth.” Larger rooms and bigger groups lead to what I’ll call “bad growth.”
If you are a group leader, the better solution is to constantly be preparing your group to be excited about the opportunity it will one day have to “franchise” itself and start another group.
The 80% rule is alive and well. It cannot be overcome. As a group leader, be aware of its effect on your group’s ability to grow, and be proactive.