The Pareto Principle, or the 80/20 Rule, has been applied to lots of different contexts. In the church, it sounds like this: “Twenty percent of the people who attend the church are doing eighty percent of its work.” The person making the claim points to a handful of church members who seem to volunteer for everything. They teach, greet, set up and tear down, and coordinate the annual picnic. If a slot remains unfilled, you can count on one of these go-getters to sign up, even if they must survive on two hours of sleep per night.
But ministry can be hard to measure. It’s easy to count the number of volunteers in the children’s ministry. It’s not so easy to track how many hours church members spend hosting dinners to get to know recent visitors or praying for other members of the church.
When applied to the church, the 80/20 “rule” usually focuses on programs. And while the Bible teaches every Christian should be a minister within the church, it does not mandate programs above informal ministry.
Programs can be tools that introduce us to others we can encourage.
Or programs can be gods that demand our loyalty at the cost of ministry. We become so consumed with maintaining a schedule or meeting a goal that we miss what Jesus is doing in the person sitting next to us.
I don’t want to miss what Jesus is doing in my church. For the next two months, I’ll be focusing on philadelphia. Since the New Testament writers used this term in connection to fellow believers, I will be looking for opportunities in my local church to show love to others.
I don’t want to sign up for a bunch of new programs. I don’t want to come up with a list of projects to complete in two months. I just want to watch what’s happening around me as I go to our weekly church service and see how Jesus may want me to respond.
Lord, You are in my church. I don’t want to miss You. Help me to see You at work and join in.