United Methodist Communications
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Vital Congregations Website Empowers Churches
A new website aims to equip and empower local churches to become vital and healthy congregations.UMVitalCongregations.org is designed to help churches move through a process of evaluation and assessment as they begin to set goals, and then find key resources to help them achieve those goals.
"While all congregations have some aspect of vitality, highly vital congregations grow over time, engage more people in ministry, and are more generous in giving to mission," said Bishop John Schol, team leader. "The Vital Congregations Project is designed to equip annual conference leadership, clergy and lay leadership in local congregations to reach their goals and fulfill the vision of becoming more vital and healthy congregations."
Three main components help congregations see their church history, assess their current church health and develop and set goals for their future. Throughout the website are descriptions of vital congregations and resources to help congregations become more vital. Churches are encouraged to share their stories of success and achievement on the site. In October, another component will be added that includes resources to help congregations reach their goals and in November, a best practices component will be added.
The Vital Congregations project was authorized by the Council of Bishops and the Connectional Table in response to the Call to Actionresearch, which indicated a lack of measures and accountability within The United Methodist Church. The research identified a vital congregation as being one that has:
Inviting and inspiring worship
Engaged disciples in mission and outreach
Gifted, equipped and empowered lay leadership
Effective, equipped and inspired clergy leadership
Small groups and strong children's programs and youth ministry
Part of the evaluation process involves looking at the history of the congregation, and how the past has affected where they are at today. A key feature of the website allows every congregation to see their "health history" based upon their past 5-10 years of experience using church profiles research from the General Board of Global Ministries. Congregations would then assess their current health in order to set feasible and attainable goals.
After reviewing their history and assessing their current health, each congregation is asked to set goals to reach the vision of becoming a more vital and healthy congregation based upon five measurable indicators of vitality: worship attendance, professions of faith, number of small groups, persons in mission, and missional giving.
Congregations that need help, encouragement and support in moving towards health and vitality will have resources available to assist them in achieving these goals. Resources will be available to address the areas of worship, evangelism, small groups, missions, and stewardship.
A report of every congregation's goals will be compiled by district and by conference. Conferences will be invited to set goals based upon the congregational goals, and conference goals will be collected and reported at the 2012 United Methodist General Conference.
The website was developed by the Vital Congregations Project Team, that includes United Methodist Communications, the Connectional Table, the General Board of Discipleship, the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, the General Council on Finance and Administration, and the Council of Bishops
For more information, visit UMVitalCongregations.org.