Viable or Vital: Which would you choose?

As far as congregations go:

Vital > Viable > Inviable

I would much rather lead and be part of a vital congregation than one that is simply viable.

I would much rather lead and be part of a viable congregation than one that is inviable and has not yet closed.

I believe that one of my roles as a United Methodist clergy person is to help congregations move from one to the next.

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Metrics for the UMC: Numbers ≠ Vitality (3 of 3)

At our last district clergy meeting our District Superintendent was speaking about metrics and vital churches and wanted to make one thing clear:

Numbers are not vitality. Numbers are contextual.

This is so true. Numbers give us insight but they are not vitality. I found a similar thought expressed on Twitter recently

Metrics for the UMC: Comparing Stories (2 of 3)

Clearly numbers do not tell the whole story of a local church, annual conference or denomination. There are stories of life change that are more important than raw data. One of the challenges of collecting stories is how to report them. It is far easier to look at a graph of worship attendance at our church over time and seek to draw conclusions over time. How do you look back over time and compare stories that have been collected?

  • Number of stories?
  • Category of stories?
  • Stories of visitors?
  • Community impact?
How do you collect stories of people and tell them in a way that builds up the body of Christ both at the time and will be able to used in a meaningful way in the future?

Metrics for the UMC: A Question of Counting (1 of 3)

Several weeks ago, I wrote a series about Why Numbers Matter in the UMC and I wanted to follow that up with some thoughts that I have been percolating on since then.

Statistically, for metrics to be any good they need to be measuring the same thing across time and among different locations. I don’t have any conclusions today, but just a question:

What is the standard for counting worship attendance? Do you include:

  • Children?
  • Infants in the Nursery?
  • Adults?
  • Volunteers?
  • Staff?
What do you count at your church for worship attendance?

Why Numbers Matter in the UMC – Community (3 of 3)

Hartzell Memorial United Methodist Church at B...

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Vitality seems to be the talk of The United Methodist Church. From the invitation to be a Vital Congregation to tracking metrics through Vital Signs, there has been a wide variety of response to the movement to increasing the level of reporting of involvement across several areas of local churches.

Let me be clear about where I stand – tracking numbers matters for The United Methodist Church.

I certainly agree with the argument that tracking numbers isn’t the only measure of the good that is happening across the denomination. There is no way to quantify the significance of a bedside hospital visit, joy at a baptism, or life change after a mission trip. While there is no way to qualitatively measure this success in ministry, there is a way to quantitatively measure it.

If one life is changed through a service project – it makes a difference.

However if that one person is the only one that shows up each week at this regular opportunity it is a sign that things could be better. Inviting others to worship, grow, give and serve with you is part of the Christian life. Our faith is not one that only involves a connection between us and God – it is about a community and others joining us on our journey. Having others join us matters.

Why Numbers Matter in the UMC – Learning (2 of 3)

Christ United Methodist Church in Rochester, M...

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Vitality seems to be the talk of The United Methodist Church. From the invitation to be a Vital Congregation to tracking metrics through Vital Signs, there has been a wide variety of response to the movement to increasing the level of reporting of involvement across several areas of local churches.

Let me be clear about where I stand – tracking numbers matters for The United Methodist Church.

If there is a church in my district whose professions of faith or persons involved in missions is far above average – I want to know about it. I want to learn from the leaders there what is working and how I might take what they are doing and adapt it in my own setting. Tracking numbers and sharing them across the conference allows this to happen.

Why Numbers Matter in the UMC – Naming Reality (1 of 3)

First United Methodist Church in Montgomery, LA

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Vitality seems to be the talk of The United Methodist Church. From the invitation to be a Vital Congregation to tracking metrics through Vital Signs, there has been a wide variety of response to the movement to increasing the level of reporting of involvement across several areas of local churches.

I have heard a great deal of critique about these additional requirements for local church leaders. Are numbers really important? Are we measuring success or significance? Won’t this be more harm than good?

Let me be clear about where I stand – tracking numbers matters for The United Methodist Church.

This practice, in itself, will not lead to renewal. However, I believe that it can be a helpful tool for our congregations to provide mutual accountability and support. Many people focus on the accountability of tracking and resulting impact on self esteem in the congregation. Whatever the reality of involvement is, tracking doesn’t change it. Tracking shines a light on current reality. If we aren’t honest with ourselves about reality, there is no possibility of effectively moving forward.

Knowing where we are is a prerequisite to go where we want to go – a future of hope and renewal as we seek to spread scriptural holiness across the land.