Have you ever felt that only a small number of church members were doing the majority of the work? It’s pretty common in churches, at least the ones I’ve been a part of, for us to depend upon the same few individuals to teach Sunday School, sing on the praise team, lead the men’s ministry, serve as deacons and coordinate the discipleship ministry. When this happens, we are observing what is called the 80-20 rule or Pareto principle.
The Pareto principle, named after Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian mathematician and economist, states that roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the inputs or causes. What if we’re observing the 80-20 rule in our churches because we don’t provide opportunities for the uninvolved 80% to be involved in ministry that utilizes their gifting, skills and experience? Ephesians 4 teaches that believers have been gifted and should be equipped for the work of the ministry. Ephesians 2 reminds us that “we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” So, what if we’re not seeing more believers involved in ministry and missions because we’ve limited the ministry opportunities made available to them?
An example of this was recently seen when one of the international missionaries with whom we partner needed someone to come alongside them to help with the artificial insemination of dairy cattle on a Muslim island where a plaque had killed most all of the cattle population. Several Kentucky farmers with the experience and knowledge stepped up to meet the need, and provided a Christian witness too! These farmers may not have volunteered to lead a VBS class or sing in the choir, but God had gifted them uniquely for “such a time as this”.
There are many unique missions opportunities that allow believers to find joy and fulfillment in serving because they’re using the talents and gifts God has equipped them with. Christ followers want and need to serve – but not all are given the chance if ministry opportunities ONLY exist within a very narrow window of mission experiences.
Here are just a few of the many ways that Christ followers can use their passion, skills, talents and experience to be uniquely on mission.
- Athletes are needed to help with sports camps (football, basketball, archery, etc).
- Help is needed with literacy classes or after school tutoring
- Farmers are needed to help with artificial insemination of cattle & crop production
- Business and leadership classes for professionals in other countries
- Cooking and food service help is needed in disaster relief work
- Business owners can help with the development of micro-businesses that provide income for indigenous church planters and missionaries
- Volunteers can learn how to install and repair wells that provide remote villages with fresh water
- Those with construction experience are needed to provide ramps or make repairs for the handicapped and elderly
- Plumbers and electricians have skills that can be utilized internationally or here at home as a witness
- Skilled chainsaw and heavy equipment operators are needed in disaster relief work
- Car mechanics could provide assistance to single mothers and the elderly
- Medical professionals can serve through clinics in remote villages or in areas of poverty here in the U.S.
- Small motor repair courses can be used as a ministry in many cities throughout the world
- Woodworking, leather or metal work may provide income for church planters in many places if they are trained and provided start-up resources
- Retirees have years of experience to offer and should prayerfully consider using their unique skills and gifts for an extended period of time
- Students should consider giving a month or a summer to serve in a mission opportunity related to their major or degree program
Every skill or talent can be used for God’s honor if we give it to Him through missions opportunities. The next time you observe the Pareto principle happening in your church, let me challenge you to consider how a unique missions opportunity would involve that unengaged believer to use his passion, gifts and talents.