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The Other 80 Percent: Turning Your Church's Spectators into Active Participants 1st Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0470891292
ISBN-10: 0470891297
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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

“How can you shift more of your church members from sitting to serving, from being spectators to engaging more deeply? Would doing so help more people to grow and develop spiritually?”—From the Preface

The Other 80 Percent is a practical guide for church leaders written by respected researcher Scott Thumma and noted author Warren Bird. The authors draw upon new research across a broad range of Protestant attenders and churches of all sizes.

Thumma and Bird listen to thousands of church members' voices to discern what motivates less-connected, inactive members to move toward a life of discipleship and of living out the faith in community.  

The authors explore societal norms influencing involvement and identify distinctive qualities of churches that shape patterns of better volunteer participation. They also examine the sometimes faulty and limiting perspectives leaders have about ways to increase involvement.

The book proposes practical steps to develop listening and learning teams to assist clergy in uncovering membership patterns, cultural norms, and leadership blind spots common to Evangelical and mainline congregations alike.

The Other 80 Percent includes a wealth of creative ideas that can expand what it means for people to engage more fully with their church. Thumma and Bird reinforce the idea that spiritual growth is directly related to participation and involvement and that spiritual nurturance of the entire congregation should be at the heart of this effort. 

From the Back Cover

“If you're discontent with 20 percent of your flock participating in spiritual development and 80 percent being spectators on the sideline, you need to read this book over and over. It will show you surprising yet practical ways to draw the marginal 80 percent into ministry and spiritual development. The extensive research alone is worth the price of the book.” —Bill Easum, author, consultant, coach; president of 21st Century Strategies

“Congregations seeking increased vitality only through reaching new people are missing a far larger group of potential disciples–their own less than fully active members.  The Other 80 Percent, a book worthy of attention by every church and every pastor, combines solid research with practical methods for churches to take next steps.” —Lovett H. Weems Jr., distinguished professor of church leadership; director, Lewis Center for Church Leadership (www.churchleadership.com), Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, DC

“Through solid research and a heart for the church, Thumma and Bird remind us of the need to focus on maturing the church into the mission of God. This book will help you reengage the people of your church into the work of the ministry. The Other 80 Percent is a helpful resource for any pastor's library.” —Ed Stetzer, coauthor, Transformational Church, www.edstetzer.com

“Who isn't interested in seeing more people involved in their church? Then place The Other 80 Percent: Turning Your Church's Spectators into Active Participants at the top of your reading list. Employing fresh research, authors Scott Thumma and Warren Bird offer insights that will empower your work with your less-active people. Pick it up today, read it tomorrow, and begin putting it into practice the next day.” —Gary L. McIntosh, D.Min., professor of Christian ministry and leadership, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University; author, Beyond the Visit: The Complete Guide to Connecting Guests to Your Church

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (May 24, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470891297
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470891292
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.9 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #809,700 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By John Gibbs on June 2, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
In a typical church 20 percent of the people do 80 percent of the work, but that does not mean that all of your focus should be on the 20 percent, according to Scott Thuma and Warren Bird in this book. In business you can often maximize profits by concentrating your energies on the top 20 percent of your clients, but the biblical standard for kingdom ventures if different.

The authors' research reveals that the general trend to lack of participation in the life of a church is attributable to a number of causes:

* Individualism and consumerism have infected the sheep and made them less willing to follow.
* Some Christians have experienced disappointment with the church as they know it, and now want a life of faith apart from the church.
* Church leaders are partly to blame for setting expectations to low and exercising leadership poorly.
* The problem is partly an organizational one, requiring rethinking of the activities of volunteering and committee work.
* The problem is also a spiritual problem, arising from a lack of understanding of what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

The book goes on to describe the characteristics of the committed 20 percent and the characteristics of the less-committed 80 percent. Because the causes of non-involvement are complex and differ from church to church, the authors advocate creating a listening team to listen to the 80 percent and a learning team to learn from them. They then suggest a range of ways, starting with prayer, in which you can seek to address the problems and reach towards spiritual maturity for 100 percent of your congregation.

I found the book very helpful, and highly recommend it to all church leaders.
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There is a common slogan in congregations: “20 percent of the people do 80 percent of the work.” Maybe this line is untrue. Probably, it is because with the culture shifting, the levels of congregational commitment are decreasing. People are lowering the amount of hours given to serving a church. There are a variety of reasons for this, but the best part of this book is that the authors try to reverse this trend. Of course the writers set the ground work. The two men highlight the changes in the society. There is more competition for people’s time. Years ago it would have been unthinkable to have little league games on Sunday. Now this is common throughout the country. Also, with little league sports trending up, often the average Saturday is filled with running from one event to another. The only day that families have to rest is Sunday, and unfortunately, parents see church as a burden instead of a blessing. Leaders in our congregations need to learn to tackle these differences in discipleship.
One of the best aspects of the book is the survey section interviewing those in the 20 percent active category and those in the 80 percent inactive group. Listening to these two voices, you see a huge difference in attitudes. The people who are active in the church have a strong relationship with the Lord. It does not mean that the church is perfect, rather that these disciples see the need to have an obedient and servant faith. While those in the inactive category seem to make excuses and blame the congregation or others for their lack of activity. Never once does an inactive member state the need to grow in faith, rather it is always a problem with the church. More than likely, this helps the unfaithful member to justify his or her lack of participation.
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Format: Hardcover
Book Review: The Other 80 Percent: Turning Your Church's spectators into Active Participants by Scott Thumma and Warren Bird
The authors invested a good bit of time interviewing focus groups and church leaders from twelve churches and then analyzing the results. Their overall task as they met with each church was to ask several questions: Why do people choose their church? How do they get involved in their church? How do they grow spiritually in their church? What they learned was not what they expected and they share their discoveries with us along with the results from several other national research projects. They provide us with the need, the reasons for the problem, the research and finally helpful suggestions for engaging your congregation in your mission and their spiritual growth. I believe you will find the book encouraging, instructive and challenging.
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This was a helpful resource in addressing how to reach and connect with people that are loosely connected to your church. I have several ideas I plan on implementing, and it confirmed some things we are already doing well. This book is worth reading if you are in church leadership. Some great survey resources are included.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The first 2/3 of the book were very helpful for what I was seeking: how to approach marginal attenders and regular attenders who only come to worship and with whom I had no other connections. The authors draw from their own extensive congregational visits and three national surveys to show correlations of many types that give context to why a person would volunteer at all, or increase or decrease. Excellent counsel. The last third kind of gets into the weeks with more general discussions.
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