A generation or two ago, people were comfortable with twenty inches or so of space. Fifteen years ago that number was thirty to thirty-six inches. Today the average comfort zone is four feet (forty-eight inches) or more. Practically speaking that means that while it may look like you have a lot of empty space in your church, visitors will not feel comfortable. If they stay for service the chances of their ever coming back are slim.
I was speaking with a fellow pastor the other night who told of observing visitors making it all the way to the sanctuary (a trek given their church’s location) and then turning around and leaving when they didn’t see enough open space for them to sit comfortably. In my own church we have been told by regular attenders (not just new comers and visitors) that the reason they stopped coming was because it was getting too crowded in the sanctuary.
Does your church building really hold as many people as you think it does?