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The pastor motioned toward the empty pews. "Here's our problem. This auditorium seats 400, but we seldom hit 150. Sunday mornings this place feels almost as empty as it does right now. Our little group rattles around in here. It's depressing; it keeps us from growing. Our board hopes you can recommend a way to remodel this room to make it smaller, warmer, more comfortable."

How had this situation come about? Years earlier the leaders had said, "If we build a larger sanctuary, people will come to fill it." They had built the sanctuary, but the people hadn't appeared.

I could have drawn up plans for corrective remodeling, but still saddled with debt from that earlier building, the church couldn't have afforded them. Because they mistakenly expected a building to generate growth, they built too big too soon.

Another church faced the opposite problem. Innovative ministries to young adults had attracted new people. Every Sunday saw double worship services and Sunday school, with classes spilling ...

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