A Pastoral 80/20 Rule?

One of the regrets I have from when I was a pastor in the traditional church is that I didn’t spend as much time outside the church as I now wish I had. At the time I actually thought I spent a lot of time, maybe more than most, outside of the church. I visited lots of people – students, their parents, people in the hospital, etc. I prepared sermons outside of my church study in coffee shops, hospitals, and other places (even a bus riding around the city once). But that’s part of the problem. You see the VAST majority of time that I spent outside of the church walls I was actually just doing things and visiting people that were within the church bubble. I was cloistered within the church walls even when I wasn’t within the physical church walls. My experience indicates to me that I was not alone in spending almost all my time inside the Christian ghetto.

I was probably reading a book at the store until you walked in and then I was ready to talk with you.
I was probably reading a book at the store until you walked in and then I was ready to talk with you.

Now I look back at what I thought I was doing outside the church and laugh. These days I spend the vast majority of my time outside of the church both physically and socially. I think this lends a ton of credence to my words when I ask the “threads” to share the hope they have in Jesus with those around them.

So here’s what I am thinking. It starts with something Google does. As some of you may know Google encourages their employees to spend 80% of their time working on what they were hired for and 20% of their time working on whatever they like that might help the company. Lifehacker describes the 80/20 rule here. This idea has me thinking. What would the modern church be like if she required all her ministers to spend at least 20% of their work time outside of the church ghetto?

What would the ministry staff of a church look like if they were spending at least 20% of their expected work time doing stuff completely un-church related. Working at a retail store (I worked for a friend last year one day and week and I am about to start working for another friend every so often – btw come by and say hello at the Sugar Doll and buy some chocolate because it is good stuff), or volunteering at a local school, or doing something else in the community that has nothing to do with the church. i think it would be awesome. Instead the people we tend to lift up as pastoral leaders are people who spend almost all their time in the bubble of Christian culture. But for a second imagine a megachurch pastor who was doing spending one day a week working in a small boutique shop and getting to know random people. I think I remember a Willowcreek Church pastor who was doing something similar to this. I think this 20% mindset, the equivalent of one day a work week, would change the way pastors relate to those outside of the community of Christ, would change the way pastors talk about people outside the church, and might change the way parishioners listen to their pastors. It could be so good.

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