Seldom do I lead a conference that I am not asked the question, "How can I lead my church forward when only a few people seem to be willing to do anything?" Usually, when the question is asked several heads begin to nod indicating they face the same problem. When I began my pastoral ministry I faced the same issue, and what I learned continues to be the advice I give to those who ask the question.
You have to ride the horse that wants to run. Whipping a dead horse won't make it go any faster. You have to dismount from a dead horse and find one ready to run. Climb on that one and let it take off.
What do I mean? There are some people who will never engage in the work of the church. Unfortunately, some of them will be in positions of leadership. No matter how much you challenge them, how often you cast the vision to them, no matter how much you urge them to become involved, they are not going to do anything.
At that point, you have to find those persons in the church that share your vision for ministry and who have a heart to see the church develop a more effective ministry to the community. When you find those individuals you begin to invest your life into them. They may not be in current leadership roles, but you can help prepare them for the time that they will be.
What do you do with the others? You love them, you pastor them, but you invest yourself in those who are going to work with you to lead the church forward. As the Pareto Principle teaches us, we invest 80 percent of our time in the 20 percent of the people who will provide the greatest return on that investment.
Admittedly, this will probably cause some problems for some pastors. People will accuse you of having your clique in the church. Church gossips will talk about how much time you spend with your "friends" while ignoring others in the church. When such talk begins remember that while Jesus had many disciples he spent most of his time with twelve. In some instances he purposely reduced that number to three. He understood that some people would do more for the Kingdom than others, and he reserved the majority of his time and his greatest lessons for those few. We need to do the same.
It doesn't take great numbers to do great things. A few passionate people who own the vision and have been trained to use the gifts God has given them will accomplish more for the Kingdom of God than a hundred of people who want to ensure the church has a worship service every week. Identify those people and pour yourself into them...then watch and see what God will do.