Nearly every church sees it: 20% of the people doing 80% of the work. How do we get more people involved? Scott Thumma says he knows how, so I invited him to share his story with the rest of us.
Scott, and co-author Warren Bird recently wrote a book addressing this dilemma that caught my interest. He advises pastors to go after the missing majority with a vengeance, check out the interview for details.
Watch the Full Program
Rather Listen? Click HERE for the Mp3.
We’ve all witnessed the decline of civic involvement over the last several decades in American society. People simply aren’t as community-minded as they once were, and our churches are no exception. While this may be an excuse for the 80/20 dilemma, Scott Thumma says it goes much deeper than that – and that the way to greater participation starts with figuring out what the 80% are thinking. Here are my notes from the interview:
Listen to the Lost Sheep
Imagine if Jesus had told the 99 sheep, ‘Forget about that lost one, he’s expendable.’ It’s this kind of thinking Scott confronts when he says church leaders have an obligation to listen to the non-attending flock. He says setting up Listening Teams, whose sole job is to hear what the disenfranchised are saying, can be an effective strategy.
Are Our Ministries Spiritually Fulfilling?
Scott says church members disengage when they sense the work they’re involved in no longer feeds their spiritual hunger. Connecting people with tasks that truly nurture, and utilizing their gifts, is key.
Meet People Where They Are
Scott says it’s time for many churches to re-think everything from service times to meeting days because the Church should be going where the people are, i.e. soccer fields and shopping malls, and no longer waiting for people to find us. This may be the new frontier for effective ministry.
About Scott Thumma
Scott Thumma is a Professor at Hartford Seminary, Hartford, CT and researcher at the Hartford Institute for Religion Research, Hartford, CT. He has co-authored several books including The Other 80 Percent and Beyond Megachurch Myths. He has researched and written articles on the mega church phenomenon, congregational studies and vital church growth. In addition, he guides the Seminary’s Dmin Program and its church survey service as well as maintaining a half dozen religion research websites including the portal site Insights into Religion:
A Word from Scott:
“The practices I recommend to clergy interested in building strong churches….
First, as a researcher, I always encourage clergy to focus on good research reports about congregational life and especially the attitudes of those in the pews – projects like www.Faithcommunitiestoday.org or www.uscongregations.org or reports from Lifeway, Baylor and Pew.
Second, talk to people both inside and outside your church – especially those you don’t have in your congregation. You don’t need to only preach to the choir, you need to preach to those you don’t yet have as committed participants… and you have to know their needs and interests in order to preach to them effectively.”
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The Grow My Church Store – Everything from mugs to pens to fridge magnets, this is a promotional products store aimed at helping churches become closer communities, more hospitable, and welcoming. I started this store and shop there often because I couldn’t find anywhere else to go for these products.