The last three weeks have been an emotional roller coaster ride for my family and me. We have been trying to sell our house in the Cincinnati area and buy a house in the Atlanta area for several months. Now that there is “light at the end of the tunnel” I can reflect a bit on our experiences. Knowing that God is sovereign in the affairs of men, we were trusting and relying on Him through the whole process, but 1 Corinthians 12 has been given new meaning for me.

Paul tells the Corinthians in Chapter 12 that each member of the church plays a specific part or role in the life and health of the church. Paul uses the analogy of the human body to teach the Corinthians that churches need hands, feet, eyes, ears and myriad other body parts to function properly. However, even our churches fall prey to Pareto’s Law—the 80/20 rule—just like most everything else in the world.

The Pareto law, in its generalized form, states that 80% of the objectives—or more generally the effects—are achieved with 20% of the means—or more generally the causes or the agents. Subsequently, it takes 80% of the means to achieve the remaining 20% of the objectives. In other words, the cost required to move from 80% to 100% of the objective is four times bigger than the one required to move from 0% to 80%. [1]

While generally understood as a law of economics, Pareto’s 80/20 rule finds application in just about every scenario we encounter as people. 80% of the “work” is accomplished by 20% of the “workers.” So in a typical church situation of about 100 members, you could count on 20 of the members to fulfill 80% of the responsibility, while the remaining 20% is doled up among the 80 other members. Likewise, you could expect 80% of the church’s budget to be provided by 20% of the congregation (but not necessarily the same 20%).

Assuming that Paul in 1 Corinthians is not calling some members of the “body” to inactivity, it would seem that the Bible calls for a standard of a 100/100 division of labor, while the reality is 80/20. We could, of course, chalk this up to sinful man and shrug our shoulders, but Paul was not content to do this. He admonished the Corinthians for their current structure in the church and gave them this understanding that all of the members are not only useful, but necessary to a properly functioning church. If most of our churches in this country are currently functioning at 80/20, then most of our churches are not functioning properly. This is not the direction I wish to go with this article right now however. I want to get back to my house situation and what I have learned from it.

I know next to nothing about real estate. I also know next to no one in the Atlanta area. My list of contacts in Atlanta was limited to the American Vision staff. If I had tried to re-locate to Georgia on my own initiative and intuition, my family would be homeless. However, through the small network of Christians at American Vision and their church bodies, my list of contacts grew exponentially, immediately. Through the church contacts of AV staff, I now have a realtor, a home-inspector, a finance person, movers, prayers and all of the other contacts that are necessary to make a re-location like this possible. Where my body and knowledge was weak, brothers and sisters in Christ were willing to step in and help, and now I am strong. My weakness was made perfect by their strength. This is the 1 Corinthians 12 church in action.

Not only does this chapter apply to individual churches, but it should also apply across churches (as it did in my case). Christians need to look out for one another, not just in their own church, but in all situations. We need to support Christians in every facet of life. If you can find a Christian mechanic in your area, use him instead of the cheaper national chain. Is there a Christian barber or beautician in your town? Give them your money instead of someone else. If we, as Christians, support other Christians in all of our endeavors, not just “church stuff,” we will take the first step toward achieving the 100/100 goal of 1 Corinthians 12, instead of simply maintaining the 80/20 status quo.

Endnote:

[1] http://www.it-cortex.com/Pareto_law.htm