Maximization: The church and its ministers and ministries operate at optimal levels of effectiveness and efficiency

The Power Of Scarcity Mentality

In the article, The Power of Abundance Mentality, we examined how an abundance mindset is a prerequisite for visionary leadership. In this article we will look at how a scarcity mindset is an essential trait of effective and efficient management.

Scarcity mentality is the opposite of an abundance mentality. Scarcity is typically viewed as a negative trait. It is associated with the idea that there are a finite number of resources to be divided among us. If an individual, organization, company, or church’s resources are viewed as a pie cut into slices and someone or something else has 3 slices, then we only have 5.  A scarcity mindset has a zero-sum view of the world: whatever is gained by one side is lost by the other. Scarcity mentality often creates competition for resources, within and without an organization. Scarcity mentality is the driving force behind the fear we feel around money and other resources. This leads to hoarding resources, rather than sharing for the sake of the greater good.

Often, we only see limits on what resources or opportunities are available to us. We limit how something can or might be done. We limit how we can or might live. This attitude leads us to a scarcity mindset. So, is a scarcity mentality all bad? Not necessarily. Especially when viewed through the lens of organizational management.

Effective And Efficient Management Requires A Scarcity Mentality

One of the primary responsibilities of a manager or administrator is to manage the organization’s resources, allocating them in the most effective and efficient manner to accomplish agreed upon results. While a leader traffics in visioning a future where there are more resources than are currently available, the manager must deal with the realities of a limited supply of resources in the here and now. A scarcity mindset can help managers minimize risk and get the most out of the resources under their direction.

The church as a whole as well as each individual ministry has access, to varying degrees, to the following 7 resources to fulfill their mission, vision, and goals. These 7 resources are scarce, they are in limited supply. A scarcity mindset can help ensure that they are allocated in a way that creates meaningful results. For example:

#1. Money: There is a finite number of dollars in the church’s budget, so they must be stewarded well.

#2. Manpower: At any given time there is a limited number of paid ministers, employees and ministry volunteers. They must be recruited, trained, coached and supervised well to make the best possible use of their limited available time and talent.

#3. Methods: These are only so many ministries, programs, and events that will fit on the church calendar and within the church budget.  They must be prioritized as to how well they help to accomplish the church’s mission and vision and provided at a cost that is less than or equal to the funding resources.

#4. Materials: There is a limited amount of discipleship curriculum, hymnals, music for the musicians, and supplies available for ministry. The manager must ensure that the resources aren’t squandered, are purchased in the correct amounts and at the best value.

#5. Mortar and Brick: Most churches have a limited amount of physical facilities and grounds for ministry, whether rented, leased or owned. The manager must make certain that the output from these physical resources exceeds their costs.

#6. Machines: Capital related resources, such as copiers, computers, screens, projectors, sound systems, buses, vans, tables and chairs are in limited supply. The manager has to determine the minimum amount of capital resources necessary to accomplish their objectives. Further, they must determine whether it is more efficient to rent, lease or buy.

#7. Messages: There are only so many sermons, announcements, themes, series, emphases, campaigns, newsletters, emails, social media and church website posts that can occur in a given time period. The manager must balance the use of each of these communication channels and allocate time and space based upon priority.

Every church has resource constraints. This means that these 7 resources at any given time are limited and must be managed well, effectively and efficiently employed, and considered in all planning decisions. One of the biggest challenges for the church manager is to properly allocate these 7 resources across the entire church organization. The manager has to ensure that the resources are being put to their best use and that they couldn’t be better used in some other area. The highest and best use of resources requires a scarcity mentality.

Further, a scarcity mindset helps the manager understand that there are trade-offs. If he allocates resources in one area, they won’t be available for use in another area. A scarcity mentality helps the manager to consistently rearrange resources in such a way as to produce something better.

A Scarcity Mentality Can Lead To Synergism

This type of scarcity mindset can lead to synergistic results. The definition of synergism is a situation where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. For example, assume you have a box of computer parts. Do you have a computer? Yes, but don’t expect it to perform any functions. The parts are limited in number and don’t really become a computer until they are put together in just the right way.

Every church is composed of a mixture of parts, or the 7 resources listed above. The Synergism Principle says that how skillfully managers allocate these limited resources is the difference between normal and maximum results. The options for how these scarce resources are allocated are endless. That’s where an abundance mentality comes into play….the belief that if these limited resources are arranged and allocated properly, the results can be unlimited. In fact, research has revealed the importance of effective and efficient resource allocation by showing that organizations who are consistently skilled at allocating these 7 resources in a synergistic manner can double output and productivity every 5 years.

As we have shown, abundance and scarcity mindsets are opposites. Yet, there is power in both. This is a paradox and a tension that church leaders and managers must balance. Both can be used recklessly and create unnecessary risks and limitations. Used properly and in tandem they can achieve God sized visions and allow good stewardship of the precious resources God provides.









Posted on June 14, 2022

Jim Baker

Jim is a Church Organizational Leadership and Management Coach, Consultant and Trainer. Throughout his career Jim has demonstrated a passion for showing Pastors and Ministers how to use organizational tools for church and personal growth and health.

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“For I may be absent in body, but I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see how well ordered you are and the strength of your faith in Christ.” Colossians 2:5