What to Do with Unhealthy United Methodist Congregations

I recognize there is debate about how to determine what makes a congregation healthy.

What to do with an unhealthy United Methodist congregation is more difficult to determine than what to do with inffective United Methodist clergy.

Kick them out of the denomination? In some cases, this might allow the congregation to become healthier. It clearly doesn’t help unity in the church.

Appoint a new pastor? This may or may not have results. Understanding the congregation as a family system suggests that this may not have much impact.

Put them on probation? A period of time with focused efforts at renewal may be helpful, however there may not be much of an incentive.

Can you help me out with what to do with unhealthy United Methodist congregations?

Advertisements

Top Indicators of an Unhealthy Church

There are clear indicators of effective clergy that would ensure that she or he would receive an appointment regardless of whether her or his appointment is guaranteed in the United Methodist Church. There are also churches that are more and less healthy. In April, the Connectional Table of the United Methodist Church suggested that there are five areas to be measured in a church:

  • worship attendance
  • disciples engaged in mission
  • professions of faith
  • mission giving
  • spiritual / discipleship formation groups.

Unhealthy churches are those that are not breaking even or growing in these areas. Other, less official indicators include:

  • Requesting that 3 of the last 5 appointed pastors move in less than two years.
  • No clear mission or vision.
  • Unwelcoming to first time guests.

What would you add to this list?

Top 13 Characteristics of Effective Clergy

Some of the hoopla around guaranteed appointments is around the question – How do you determine what makes for an effective clergy person? That’s easy. Straight from paragraph 340 of the Book of Discipline, an effective clergy person will…

  • love God and love their neighbor.
  • preach, teach, lead worship and engage people in witness.
  • provide spiritual guidance.
  • marry and bury.
  • visit people in their homes to provide care.
  • practice integrity in maintaining confidences.
  • be responsible for sharing baptism and holy communion.
  • provide administration for the local church, annual conference and general church.
  • be inclusive.
  • live as a servant leader.
  • organize the church to live out their faith in the world.
  • equip others in the care and spiritual formation of others.
  • work for unity in the church.

If a clergy person is gifted and effective in these things, there will be clear evidence in the church.

A clergy person with evidence of gifts and effectiveness will continue to be appointed regardless of her or his appointment being guaranteed.