The Pareto Principle is an organizational principle that goes back a number of years that states in an organization 80% of the work typically gets done by 20% of the people. I have heard this principle applied to congregational life and ministry ad nauseum and I do not believe it is correct from one particular angle. If only 20% of the people are working to implement the goals, values and vision of an organization then only 20% of the work that could be getting done is getting done. 20% do 20%. 20% only do 80% if you narrow down the focus of what needs to get done to the bare minimum. If you expand that to the potential and possibility of what could and should get done the numbers no longer work out.
Full disclosure here…I realize that I am misapplying Pareto’s principle in order to say it has a fallacy. What I am doing in the process is shifting the paradigm on ministry and our potential. Why settle for what is getting done by the few? Why not mobilize the many to get an exponential amount more done for God and the kingdom? I think part of the reason this happens is that we have inadvertently redefined “church” to an hour on Sunday rather than to be more inclusive of the life of the congregation. When our involvement forms for new members only involve things done at the building on Sunday and Wednesday we accidentally communicate our priority and limit the scope of involvement to an institutional model. In doing so, we fail to harness or leverage the full potential of the congregation to minister the other 99% of the week. In doing so, we continue to focus more on ourselves than on those who do not know Jesus. In doing so, we miss countless opportunities to live out our calling.
What might happen if 100% did 100%?
PS – Thanks to my friend Barry Jones for pointing me to the name of this principle.