I have to admit that there does seem to be more talk these days about church health than church growth. However, sometimes church health is secretly the focus one employs to achieve what they are really after…church growth. The easy way to spot this is if you hear the person promoting church health make some comment like, “Church health will lead to church growth. A healthy church will be a growing church.” Sometimes this is true, but not always. You can have a healthy church that is not growing and you can have a growing church that is not healthy. Numbers are not necessarily an indication of health or lack thereof. How then can we measure church health? Percentages.
A church is healthy if there is a growing percentage of it’s members involved in things like small groups, serving in ministries, personal evangelism, personal devotions, tithing, etc. For example, a church with an attendance of 100 that has 35% of it’s members participating in outreach activities would be healthier (at least in the area of outreach) than a church of 1000 that only has 20% involvement. A church of 200 with 40% involvement in small groups and a church of 3000 with 40% involvement would be equally healthy in the area of small groups.
“The Pareto principle (also known as the 80-20 rule, the law of the vital few and the principle of factor sparseness) states that, for many phenomena, 80% of the consequences stem from 20% of the causes. Business management thinker Joseph M. Juran suggested the principle and named it after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who observed that 80% of income in Italy went to 20% of the population. It is a common rule of thumb in business; e.g., “80% of your sales come from 20% of your clients.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pareto_principle)
If the Pareto principle is true in business it is certainly true in most churches. Doesn’t it seem like 80% of your giving comes from 20% of your people? Don’t 20% of your people do 80% of the work? Therefore, 20% involvement in personal devotions would be normal (not necessarily good, but normal) and anything above that is movement up the church health scale.
Leadership Team Project.
Want an interesting and helpful activity for you and your leaders? At your next leadership team meeting:
1. Draw up a list of things you would hope your members would participate in, things that you think are healthy for Christians, i.e. small groups, serving in ministries, etc.
2. Figure out what percentage of your adult members are participating in each of the areas you identified.
3. Determine a way to track these percentages so that six months from now you can see if the percentages have grown, remained the same, or declined.
4. Score each area based on the Pareto principle. Below 20% is below normal. 20% is normal. Above 20% is better than normal. The higher the percentage shows the higher health.
Sometimes smaller churches are healthier than they realize. We must discover ways to determine health, ways other than merely looking at attendance. “Percentages” is an objective and accurate way to measure the health of your church.