Since, according to Edwin Friedman “No one has ever gone from slavery to freedom with the slaveholders cheering them on,” I expect to encounter your resistance to this claim: 80/20 is yet another evidence of the culture of cowardice that is alive and well in much of the American Church.

Take a breath. Set your resistance aside and gather your key leaders. Lock yourselves in a conference room until you can identify at least ten ways your church communications, culture, and leadership promote and preserve the 80/20 Rule.

Think about it.

What do we model when, every time the doors are open, a relative handful minister to the many who simply spectate?

When a thousand gather for “worship” what do they see?

One preaches. Another does announcements. One or two run the soundboard, show the videos, dim the lights. Maybe a dozen play instruments or sing in a worship band. Or, maybe you have an organist. One organist and a soloist. A couple dozen function as greeters and ushers. And, several dozen teach the children, but that happens elsewhere – out of sight of most of the adults.

What you model reinforces a culture in which very few do a great deal and very many do almost nothing.

Don’t they?

-Kirk Kirlin, from the book “Leadership Courage,” more at


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