Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Gotta Hand It to the Methodists

Methodists have found the secrets to vital congregations.  An extensive report that consulted with thousands of Methodist congregations, cost thousands of dollars, and may or may not be applicable to other denominations has noted four areas that signal (or measure) vitality within Methodist congregations.

The report identified four key areas that fuel vitality: small groups and programs; worship services that mix traditional and contemporary styles with an emphasis on relevant sermons; pastors who work hard on mentorship and cultivation of the laity; and an emphasis on effective lay leadership. The study did turn up some surprising results. According to the data, it did not matter whether ministers held seminary degrees; whether pastoral ministry was a first or second career; or how long the minister had been engaged in pastoral ministry. In addition, the number and types (global or local) of outreach programs did not have a significant impact on vitality, so long as a congregation had some sort of outreach program. Read more at BeliefNet.

Let me see... where to begin... could they have saved some money and some midnight oil, perhaps.  Good worship with relevant sermons and pastors who work hard to partner with the people in their parishes... hmmm well, we have never thought these might be good indicators before but, well, lets go out on a limb and say that maybe we can say these things are important to the health, life, and vitality of a Christian congregation.

The surprise for me is that some kind of outreach -- but not what kind of outreach -- is key.  I would have thought, and still think, that people who are regularly fed on the rich diet of Word and Sacrament and who raise up the baptismal vocation of witness and service would have a BIG commitment to outreach on a number of levels... but, well that is just me...


ErnestO said...

Living in Christ as a Lutheran and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.

It is time we Lutherans focused our energies on our monumental task of bringing the gospel to people no pastor, bishop or synod president will ever meet—the people we see every day.

I a consummate sinner have failed at both of the suggestions above, please pray for me.

Janis Williams said...

Vocation, vocation, vocation.