As a former A-level PE teacher I am intrigued by the 'Ringelmann Effect' in sport whereby the effort of a team with less players increases to compensate for reduced numbers. This may more accurately expressed by saying that as numbers increase, effort reduces (originally proposed by a guy named Ringelmann studying tug of war of all things!). Basically, individual effort is reduced as the perception of a shared load increases.
Is this true in church?
As a church grows in size, is it fair to say that the effort of the individual decreases as they perceive their efforts can reduce as there are more to share the load?
My observation is that whilst the Bible calls us to make every effort on our part to walk in His ways, to serve, to work (in the secular sense) (Col3:23) to press on (Phil 3:14), to run the race as though to win the prize (1 Cor 9:24), it is common for believers to make less effort the longer they go on in their faith.
This may be reflected in their serving within the church or in their personal spiritual practices. It is a church stereotype that there are a core of church members who do all of the work regardless of how many other members there actually are. I think that most stereotypes are rooted in truth somewhere which is why they appear common place. This may not be exactly the 'Ringelmann Effect' whereby many who were trying hard (I am not making comment here about our path to salvation but our efforts to stay the course once on the journey) now ease off but rather that the core just mentioned are those 'straining forward to what lies ahead (Phil 3:13), those who are willing, joyful servers who seek first the kingdom (not quite the full context of Matthew 6:33).
If everyone in church retained the willingness to serve literally wholeheartedly then what a difference the local church could make. I know full well myself the temptation to veg in front of the t.v. or to occupy myself with anything that doesn't require me to think of others before myself or to share the load in the life of the church. Some I know appear more conscientious and read/study a lot about the activities of the local church but then fail to actually participate in those activities.
These thoughts are not primarily about work or effort but more about life in general approached through a Biblical worldview. A life given to the 'bride of Christ', the advancement of the kingdom, an appreciation that this life is momentary in comparison to eternity and so to make the most of it. These are grand thoughts that few honestly work out in reality but I am sure that many of us could get much closer.
I have recently felt God's promptings that 'there must be more than this' (O breath of God come breathe within, Spirit of God we wait on you - too true Mr Hughes) and I have been praying again and again for the inspiration of God to lead me on in His plans and purposes and so avoiding my inclination to lethargy or the pursuit of fleeting pleasures.
I am sure that somewhere out there there is some research that investigates this train of thought further but for now these are my ramblings.