So first what is the Pareto Principle?

The Pareto principle states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.

The Pareto Problem Within The Church

When talking about volunteers within the local church, the Pareto Principle always seems to rear it’s ugly head, in that 80% of the work done within a church, is typically done by only 20% of its church members.

So the 20% who ARE serving, are in high demand among all ministries.

A reverse problem that I have personally witnesses in my time in ministry is, that if you as a volunteer, show you are willing to be part of the 20% who are doing the actual work, you will at some point be approached by 80% of the working staff asking for you to serve within their ministry.

Getting beyond the 20%

If we as a church desire to move our mission forward by utilizing volunteers, we must develop a strategy to expand our volunteer base beyond the 20% currently serving, by identifying and then recruiting from the 80% that are currently sitting on the sidelines.

Identify the 80%

In order to identify the 80% who are not serving, we must first begin to identify who exactly are the 20% that are serving. Once we understand who IS serving, we can then cross-reference this data against multiple data streams to gain a much clearer perspective of who is actually NOT serving.


Where The Idea Came From?

It was the week before Easter at Valley Church and in a meeting we were discussing all of the hundreds of volunteers that were already scheduled to be serve that weekend to make it a success.  As we went around the table and each team leader shared how many volunteers they already had serving, I realized that I didn’t know exactly who they were? And then it struck me, if I don’t even know who IS serving, how am I going to know who is NOT serving?


Basic Plan

  • Your Leadership team would need to  define what it means to regularly “serve” at your church.
  • A Data field would need to be created and so someone could be identifed as “Serving.”
    • Valley Church uses a system called Fellowship One but that can either be done through a service or even as simple as a spreadsheet or a church directory.
  • With the agreed upon definition of what it means to “Serve,”  you would then begin to gather the names of those serving from the individual ministries throughout your church.
  • Over time you will have a clearer picture of those who serve on a regular basis at your church.

So Then What Can We Do With This New Data?

Fundraising Principle – When someone has made a donation once, they are more likely to make a donation again. This same principle applies to those who volunteer. If they have volunteered once, they are more likely to volunteer again.

Using This Newly Aquired Data-

  • You can identify the “Low Hanging Fruit”
  • The data, when cross referenced with regular attenders, will help you develop a targeted “List” of potential volunteers, that you can then use as a starting point when seeking new volunteers.
  • Many churches draw a lot of their volunteers from those who are participating in some type of small group.  It has been stated that these small groups are where churches should begin to discover new volunteers. With this data, you could cross reference those who are regularly attending small groups, with those serving, to determine who are not yet serving but are already committed to the church.
  • You could cross reference this data with those who have already served in one of your larger volunteer opportunities, but have not yet made the commitment to serve on a regular basis..
  • This new data will provide another data-stream to gain a clearer picture of who is involved in the church on a regular basis.
  • You will have a clearer picture overall of who is actually serving from within our church body.
  • Ministry Directors within your church can become more aware of who is serving globally within the church and what ministry their prospective volunteer is serving.

You can begin to expand your 20%.

Think about how many people attend your church on a weekly basis. If implementing this system can help gain one, two or even three percent or more, for most churches that is a lot of extra volunteers. 

Summary –

To clarify, what I’m proposing here is not a “quick fix” but will require work to be done. It will require the help of all of the Ministry Directors to gather the needed information. But as our pastor has shared with the team at Valley Church, sometimes it’s the little 1 to 2 degree tweaks that we can do to what we are already doing, that can have a great impact on the church. I believe this is one of those things. Identifying this data and then using it to your advantage will greatly aid you in furthering your mission.

If your seeking solutions to other problems

Let’s Talk

Many times, when trying to work through a specific challenge, we can be too close to the problem to not see the solution. Tim has the unique ability to look at any situation with an “out of the box” perspective that can lead to success. As a former business partner and friend, I’d highly recommend contacting Tim for whatever your current situation might be.
Mike Stuart

President, FamilyArc

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