Friday, September 21, 2007


Vilfredo Pareto was an Italian economist who developed what has been known as the Pareto Principle, also known as the law of the vital few. He noticed that 80% of the income in Italy came from 20% of the population. The Pareto Principle is the 80/20 rule, which says that 80% of the consequences come from 20% of the causes. It also implies that 20% of the results come from 80% of your efforts.

The Pareto Principle has various applications to ministry:
Activities: 20% of your events will yield 80% of the outreach

People: 20% of your leaders will yield 80% of the impact

Time: 20% of your hours will yield 80% of the results

Groups: 20% of your meetings will yield 80% of the productivity

Communications: 20% of your messages will yield 80% of the insights

Finance: 20% of your givers will yield 80% of your income

Marketing: 20% of your ads will yield 80% of your exposure

Wise leaders are aware of the disproportional impact of the vital few. Consequently, they do not treat all activities, people, time, groups, communications, finance, and marketing the same. They seek to leverage the 20/80 scenarios, and minimize 80/20 scenarios.

How does the Pareto Principle apply to your current ministry? What high-leverage aspects of the ministry need cultivation? What low-leverage aspects need pruning?


The Pareto Principle is a "rule of thumb" and should be kept in balance, particularly when it comes to people. It is not consistent with the Spirit of Christ to only give your attention to those who are "high producers." On the other hand, a good question is, "Where is God at work, and how can I cooperate with Him in what He's doing?"

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