In our conversations with church leaders, both clergy and lay, the matter of church vitality often enters the conversation. And the conversation then raises the question, how does one measure the vitality of a church? Is it measured by the number of different programs the church offers, or by the size of their annual budget, or by the number of people attending the weekly worship services?
While all of these things can measure a certain degree of vitality for a church, through our decades of work with churches from many denominations around the world we have learned that a better measure of church vitality is to ask and answer the question, how attuned is the leadership of the church to the presence and work of the Holy Spirit in their church and in the community around them. Churches are vital when they:
- Care as much for the people of their community who are not a part of their fellowship as they care about the ones who are
- Repeatedly ask the question “What is God’s preferred and promised future for our church?”
- Encourage people to discover and explore their God-given gifts for ministry
- Find ways to continually discern how God is showing up in their communal life together, both inside and outside the church
When people within a church are growing in their relationship with God and with people (inside and outside the church) the vitality of that church will move beyond the number of programs they offer, the size of their annual budget, or the number of people in attendance each week.
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