The 3 Buckets of Every Church

If you are trying to restart your congregation or jumpstart growth, what I’m about to share with you is hands down the single most important thing you need to understand.

I call this principle “The Three Buckets.”OK

Picture before you three buckets. The bucket on the left is called the “Sunday Bucket.”

The Sunday bucket represents everything that needs to happen to make your Sunday worship services happen – adequate facilities, preaching, worship leading (including leaders, artists, tech, etc.), children’s classes (including teachers, assistants, registration, etc.), greeters, hospitality, parking, etc. I would also include the student ministry, which typically meets on a Sunday morning or evening.

The bucket in the middle is called the “Midweek Bucket.”

The midweek bucket represents anything and everything you’re doing outside of the Sunday experience – small groups, kids’ programming, different groups, and activities, etc.

The bucket on the right is called the “Missions Bucket.”

The missions bucket represents all local, national, and international outreach. This includes everything from assisting your local soup kitchen to supporting missionaries around the world.

The Three Buckets 2WATER = Available Resources

To the left of these buckets envision a pitcher of water.

Water represents the resources Senior Pastors have to deploy that enable the congregation they serve to fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20).

Every Senior Pastor has four types of resources to deploy:

1. People
2. Money
3. Time
4. Energy

Since every church has limited resources, your job as the church’s Senior Pastor is to lead the way in determining both WHEN and WHERE your church will deploy their people, money, time, and energy in each of these three buckets.

How Stuck Churches Have Deployed They Resources

Whenever I coach Senior Pastors, I will lead them through an exhaustive analysis of where they are currently deploying their resources.
The Three Buckets 3Inevitably, in every single situation, the Senior Pastors that I coach are leading churches that have taken their water and equally distributed it among all three of their buckets.

They will have poured SOME of their water (people, money, time, and energy) into making Sunday happen, but not all of it.

They saved an equal measure of water and poured it into their midweek activities.

Finally, they’ve poured an equal measure of water into their missions bucket.

Stuck churches almost always have equal measures of water in each of their three buckets, but none more than half full. Translated: they are doing many things, but few well, especially the Sunday experience.

Filling One Bucket At A Time

The secret to creating growth is to pour ALL of your resources into the Sunday bucket FIRST.

Then, once the Sunday bucket is “filled,” meaning the Sunday experience is fully staffed, resourced, and done with excellence, then and only then does the water “spill over” into the midweek bucket. Imagine continually pouring all available resources into the Sunday bucket until it naturally begins to overflow into the midweek bucket.
The Three Buckets 4The order of progression in effective outreach-focused churches is always Sunday first, then midweek, then missions.

The typical church does Sundays poorly, but still, thinking this is the best course of action, throws themselves into starting small groups, Awana, etc., all the while supporting 6-10 missionaries at $50 to $150 a month.

The result? They stay stuck. Why? They are ineffectively deploying their resources.

Listen, you have no business starting small groups when you can’t adequately staff your children’s ministry classes.

You know your worship services, and how they’re just terrible, right? But you keep complaining about how you don’t have the money to hire staff to lead in that area. You and I both know that you do have the money. It’s just being sent overseas.

You have no business supporting missionaries around the world when your worship service isn’t even remotely close to where it needs to be.

God has gifted that money to your congregation to reach your area FIRST. Then, once outreach and growth have been firmly entrenched, then, and only then, do you move into starting mid-week groups and activities for deeper growth. Then only after that bucket is filled do you send money overseas.

There is much more to say about this so let’s pick it up next time in Part 2.