On Being a Part of a Group Assignment

For me, it was the most dreaded words a teacher could say. The assignment would be given, and then they would say, “We are going to do this work in groups.” If you are not familiar with that type of instruction, then please let me explain. That meant that the class was going to be broken down into groups of 3-5 students to do an assigned project together. For me that meant one thing, to get a good grade I would be doing almost all the work. Usually, one student in each group would take the lead and work hard while the others sat back and enjoyed their labor. According to my children, this type of thing still goes on today, and it still drives many students crazy.

When I became an adult, I learned that there was a name for this type of behavior. It is formally called the Pareto principle. You might know it as the 80/20 rule. Basically, the idea is that in any group 80 percent of the work will be done by 20 percent of the people. Through the years I have seen this principle applied to almost everything. It can happen on sports teams, in the business community, on group homework assignments and even in Churches.

In most Churches, 20 percent of the people do 80 percent of the ministry.

I read that and have two separate emotions. First, there is this general acceptance that this principle applies everywhere and I would expect it in the Church. Second is the sadness that this applies everywhere even in the Church. I mean, what would happen if the church stopped acting like the world and everyone started doing their part?

For each one of us, there are two important questions we must ask ourselves.

1. How much do I expect from the Church? Do you want the Church to have vibrant children’s ministries, impactful youth ministries, deep small groups ministry, enjoyable senior adult’s ministries, and on and on. Most people I know think the Church should be doing more. There should be more mission work, more humanitarian work, and more gospel work. How many ministries do I expect from my Church?

2. How much time and energy am I willing to commit to making those things happen? This question is about whether we are part of the 20 percent who do the work or the 80 percent letting everyone else carry the burden.

Yes, the Church could and should be doing more to transform the world into the kingdom of God. Who will do the work?

You see when the teacher gave one of those group projects I knew I would do most of the work and yet we would all get the same grade. It happened almost every time because I was the only one who cared about our score. I really wanted to do well. Slowly the other students came to know they could count on me to show up with a completed assignment and they would just put their name on it.

I really want to be a part of a group of people who are not the same was as those kids in my class.

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