Pareto Principle for Christian Churches

Most of us have heard of the 80/20 rule, sometimes called the Pareto principle.

It was named after its “inventor,” Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto who noticed about 20% of the peapods in his garden contained 80% of the peas.

To put it more generally, it says that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. to put it more concretely:

  • 80% of property is owned by 20% of the population
  • 80% of sales come from 20% of the clients
  • 80% of complaints come from 20% of a company’s customers
  • 80% of problems come from 20% of causes.

Unless companies are aware of the 80/20 law, they can unwittingly expend 80% of their time and efforts on the 20% of customers who are producing 80% of the complaints and problems. This leaves only 20% of their time and effort to expend on the customers who are producing 80% of their sales and profits.

But churches and pastors can also succumb to this tendency of devoting the majority of their attention to problems and complaints at the expense of the vast majority who are living steady godly lives and serving the Lord fruitfully.

While we must not run away from problems and we must address legitimate complaints, church leaders must be resolute in their determination to prevent problems and complaints setting the agenda and dominating their time and attention.

Perhaps we could re-write the Pareto principle for churches. Give a maximum 20% of your time to the problems and a minimum 80% of your time to the fruitful and the faithful. 

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