At Annual Conference Session in June, members voted to require every local church to “complete an assessment of its own vitality no later than December 15, 2008 using the assessment tools provided in Vital Signs: A Pathway to Congregational Wholeness, by Dan R. Dick (Discipleship Resources, 2007).”
The assessments are to be completed on line and will be available on the Conference website at cnumc.org on October 1.
Once the information has been entered, churches will receive feedback almost immediately.
The assessments will be made available to the District Superintendents and to the new Council on Congregational Development. The council’s work will parallel that of the Council on Clergy Development. (See next week’s Instant Connection.)
“We would like to ‘take a picture’ of where we are today in terms of congregational vitality, as a means of focusing our work in support of church revitalization and new church development,” says Blake Busick, Chair of the Committee on Congregational Revitalization for the Council on Congregational Development. “These assessments will give us a Conference baseline from which we will be able to evaluate – in future years – if our efforts are making any difference.”
Busick notes that the Vital Signs assessment does not ask for impressions or opinions, and “A qualitative value judgment is not intended.” The purpose of the survey is to gain insight into each church’s “current reality” as a starting point for improvement.
“There are 24 measures that are fairly distinct,” Busick says. “It can be completed with four or five people – for instance, lay leader, membership chair, financial secretary, and council chair.”
Once the survey is completed, a leadership group will have the opportunity to consult with its District Superintendent about what to do to move towards vitality. Vital Signs author Dan Dick has said, “Individual factors may invite a congregational leadership team to focus on internal ministries, leadership practice, financial processes, attendance numbers, service numbers, hospitality issues, or pastoral practices and expectations.”
The book can be a tool to expand the conversation about a church’s current reality with the leadership of the church and its District Superintendent.
Pastors will be emailed October 1 with instructions for participation in the online assessment.