Church vitality? Didn’t someone write a book about that?

Call to Action – another group inside the UMC working to revitalize the church – lists the following factors as indicators of congregational vitality:

  • Average worship attendance as percentage of membership;
  • Total membership;
  • Number of children, youth and young adults attending as percentage of membership;
  • Number of professions of faith as percentage of attendance and membership;
  • Actual giving per attendee; and
  • Finance benevolence giving beyond the local church as a percentage of the church budget.

A full account to of the group’s work can be found here. The group plans to track these six indicators for every church in the UMC over the last five years. The story does not indicate if the denomination plans to do anything to see if the numbers reported by churches reflect reality in any meaningful sense. Nor is it clear what it will do with this data.

These look like the “stuff we can count,” so I think I see where and why we have these six.

I wonder if anyone who has studied church vitality and maybe even written a book about it has thoughts about this news. Dan?

5 thoughts on “Church vitality? Didn’t someone write a book about that?

  1. Unfortunately, instead of figuring out which parts of the general church are working and which aren’t, we’re reinventing the wheel yet again about what makes a church vital. We’d be far better off if CTA was working toward maximizing the efforts to help churches do better.

  2. Looking to business consultants to tell us how to be the church seems like a waste of a cool half-million that could be better used elsewhere.

  3. I suspect that most churches could tell you if they are vital. This is the kind of thing where you tend to know it when you see it. And most often churches could probably tell you why they do or do not feel vital. One might say, “No, we don’t have any children or young people.” Another might say, “No, our attendance is okay, but we can’t meet the budget–we barely pay the utilities, so we give little to missions from our budget.” The criteria may be the same, but I’m not sure we need a study to tell us whether or not we are vital. It strikes me the same as something else that drives me nuts–a weatherman telling me “right now, those of you living in X are experiencing mild temperatures, a few clouds, but mostly sun.” I know what I am experiencing–I’m experiencing it.

  4. Creed, Wayne, and Eric:

    Thank you for coming by to comment. I love your weatherman analogy, Eric, mostly because that drives me nuts, too.

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