Escaping the 20/80 rule of church life

Andy Rau

Amy B
December 12, 2008

I think this is an important idea to be discussing. The only way I can see it being played out can be summed up in one word - COMMUNITY. The most radical version of community that would solve this problem is communal living, perhaps like the new monastics are trying to do. But even if someone doesn't want to go that far, it does mean working and ministering to one another by inviting each other into our lives - our regular, everyday lives - instead of just relying on Sunday services, special occasions and programmatic ministry. Eating meals together, watching each others children together, working on finances together, taking care of the church building and each other's homes together, vacationing together - we need to BE TOGETHER!

"By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." - John 13:35

I think this actually ties in neatly with an earlier TC post about tithing - if people feel ownership and responsibility for their church community as an extension of their own family, rather than just a service provided by a pastor, then some of this will come naturally. The rest can be encouraged through loving encouragement and exhortation.

Terry Johns
December 13, 2008

Can I suggest that before any comments, remarks or concerns are made regarding this article that you read Pagan Christianity, by Frank Viola / George Barna.

December 13, 2008

Sounds like a good suggestion--but can you explain your recommendation a bit more? What elements of Pagan Christianity do you think speak to this issue?

Dan Quotes
December 14, 2008

Great article, I really enjoyed reading it!


December 15, 2008

In any group, there are people who are motivated to take initiative and lead, and people who are more motivated to come appreciate what the more motivated people have done, or to participate more sporadically. It should be no surprise that this exists in the church. Ideally, we would all lead in something, and follow or appreciate in others, but statistically that doesn't happen in human communities either. Relax, and accept it.

I watch hardly any television, and have very little "leisure" time. I do try to limit the hours I work for pay, and would like to limit them more, but I have, informally more than formally, a number of things I do with the remaining time already, responsibilities people count on me for, mostly on a volunteer basis, but occasionally paid. So no church is going to get time out of me by asking me to turn off the TV.

There have been times when I took on a small ministry within a church, or made a point of showing up for events that were not on Sundays. It generally depends on inspiration of a given activity, and how much fellowship I find anywhere other than the church.

The separation of our time into discrete units is a general problem in our culture, not limited to the church. Family time is separated from "my job" is the biggest division, since work is outside the home and separate from the family, in distinct corporate organizations that are NOT family or spiritually oriented. I don't have an answer for that, since we can't just "go back to the land" without 90% of us starving to death or dying of contagious illness, etc. Our technology is what makes such a large population, so concentrated, possible.

Steve Scott
December 26, 2008


Greetings. I found your post as the top Google result that applied the 20/80 rule to church ministry. I think much of the problem in American Christianity is that "ministry" is defined by the few, and only certain people can fit that mold. People simply aren't taught to think or do things for themselves, so when the default - which is church ministry as envisioned by the leaders - is the only show in town, people realize how they can't fit in, so they don't.

June 13, 2009

Greetings and a reasonably late post by an African living in the UK

I think we're all being PC (Politically Correct - a real problem in the UK) and not willing to call a spade a spade. For a number of people the problem definitely lies in time constraints. I would suggest however that pure undiluted laziness plays a major part, coupled with an unwillingness to do certain jobs (like washing the cups after tea & coffee). I've also noticed that the less topical and more real-life the preaching is the more inclined people are to serve. Especially if there are messages about serving.

This goes alongside preaching about tithing, another HOT topic.

My comments are not about whether it's right to preach about serving and tithing (that's for each individual to decide - my personal stand is that it should be), it's about the effect that such preaching has on the congregation if it is preached.

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