How Pareto’s 80/20 Principle Can Help Your Church Grow

How Pareto’s 80/20 Principle Can Help Your Church Grow
Tim Massengale

In 1906, an Italian economist named Vilfredo Pareto created a mathematical formula to describe the unequal distribution of wealth in his country. He observed that twenty percent of the people owned eighty percent of the wealth. The principle has been observed and applied in a wide variety of situations in the business and financial world.

Pareto’s Principle is most often applied to churches by observing that 80% of the work if often done by 20% of the people. It is also often true that 80% of the new converts come from 20% of the evangelism efforts. You can apply the 80/20 rule to many areas of the church. Consider the following applications:

1. 80-20 Evangelism – 80% of your converts come from 20% of your methods. Identify the methods of evangelism that win the most people. You can accomplish this by training your altar workers to complete an altar card on every person that receives the Holy Ghost or is baptized. The card should clearly identify what method(s) resulted in this person making a decision to embrace full Bible salvation. Strengthen what works best. Revamp or remove non-productive programs that involve more activity than productivity.

2. 80-20 Involvement – 20% of your saints do 80% of the labor. Find out who is actively involved. Print up a list of all church members, 16 years of age and older. Give this list to each of your ministry leaders. Ask them to circle the name of those individuals that are actively involved in their ministry. They could even rate degree of involvement on a 1-5 scale. Encourage those with little or no involvement to become involved. Sometimes they just need to be asked and encouraged. Don’t settle for only 20% involvement.

3. 80-20 Time Management – When Charles Hummel wrote his classic essay Tyranny of the Urgent, in 1967, he identified that we spend most of our time doing what is urgent and often fail to do what is truly important. What is urgent is rarely truly important. We often spend 80% of our time on urgent tasks. But the most important tasks: prayer, personal study, sermon development, soul winning, family, can often go wanting.

4. 80-20 Leaders – Jesus spent 80% of His time developing leaders: 12 Apostles, 70 disciples, and after 3 ½ years, 120 were in the upper room. From there the church exploded. Make leadership development a priority. Train leaders, soul winners, faithful laborers.

5. 80-20 Finances – 20% of your members often give 80% of the tithe and offerings. Labor to change this. Consider teaching an annual stewardship series to the church. Send out a monthly Pastor’s Communiqué (a personal letter from the pastor to church members) and include with it a computer printout of each members past month’s giving activity as well as totals of tithe and offering to date (each member receives only their own giving history information). Churches that do both have seen an increase of 15-25% in tithe and offering over the previous year.

Bottom Line: Growing churches refuse to accept that the 80/20 rule is inevitable. They know that revival churches have a higher percentage of successful evangelism ministries, involvement by church members, leaders in development, and faithful tithe and offering participants. Growing pastors also appear to manage their time better. Determine to make your church a ‘break-out’ church – rise above the norm!

This article “How Pareto’s 80/20 Principle Can Help Your Church Grow” was excerpted from: Guaranteed Growth Newsletter by Tim Massengale. October 2010. It may be used for study & research purposes only.