Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Over Capacity

I'm starting to think that picture is the new twitter homepage.

It seems that Twitter is down ALL the time.

It has expanded beyond the wildest dreams of the website's creators. It has expanded far beyond the physical capacity that it uses. It is constantly growing into a larger and larger beast. It is now (and has been for a while) to the point where it will be down regularly. Sometimes for hours at a time.

For regular Twitter users it is frustrating at best. For the power users, those who tweet hourly--or by the minute--it is infuriating. For more casual users it is an excuse for why they're casual, why they don't use it more often, why they don't get more involved in twitter communities.

And for all three, it is a reason to contemplate using it less, or for some, to stop using it at all.

Unfortunately, our church has hit a twitter stage.

Quick disclaimer, I do not think that a church can ever be 'too' large. If proper systems, mindsets, facilities, structures, etc are in place, the local church can support an infinite amount of people. It may not look the same as we think of it, but possible.

That being said, our church has hit the twitter stage. It has grown too large too quickly and has exceeded the capacities given for it to work in.

The pastors are trying, and trying very hard, to accommodate the growth. Trying to find out what we need to do to allow for more growth. Trying to figure out how to handle the growth we currently have, to get people plugged in, to get them invested, to get them involved, to make a church of 5000 feel like a church of a few hundred, if not smaller.

But, despite all the efforts, and they are many, I feel we've stretched ourselves out.

People don't feel invested. People don't feel a part of it. Despite going for a long time, people can still feel as outsiders, as 'the other,' as if they're not important to the scheme of things.

There is personal accountability involved there, some feel this way because they haven't done anything to try to get involved. This is not entirely the fault of the pastoral staff, it never is.

But it is easily verified that this is what people think by looking at a variety of activities and comparing them against attendance; be they regular volunteer shortages, missions projects volunteers, finance shortcomings, small group involvement, etc.

It's a frustrating situation for everyone involved. I am obviously not 'in the know' here. This is just how I see it. And it's frustrating for me, because I care about it. If I didn't, it wouldn't matter to me.

When you're dealing with a ubiquitous problem, I think it is best to stop doing what you're doing, take a few steps back, and try to find out what it is that is causing the issue in the first place. There are reasons that things like this occur.

Before trying to solve the problem, the problem has to be correctly identified. The cause of the problem must be rooted out and dealt with. There are structures in place, methodologies being promoted, expectations being presented, and roles being created. If the structure of a church is deliberate, then there is something in the structure and systems that generates the response.

This is easy to see for something like twitter. But it becomes a little harder for a church. And it certainly can quickly become more personal.

But, if it doesn't get dealt with, you eventually won't have an over capacity problem--they'll just stop coming.