God is calling us to focus on growing and becoming more vital so that our ministry of praise and prayer, compassion and caring, and mission and outreach will touch lives and transform communities for many years to come.
We’ve asked for input about church vitality, values, measurements, and more so that a team of clergy and laity can converge those insights and write the vision that God has inspired in the people of the Desert Southwest Conference. Once that work is done, the team will continue to the next phase of their work.
After prayer and reflection on the data collected so far, the convergence team met and identified the most frequently mentioned themes and obstacles. Using that information, they wrestled with the task of defining characteristics of a growing church.
Now the team wants to hear from you. What makes a growing church?
Top 4 Growth Themes Mentioned in Surveys and Holy Huddles
Listen, Vision, & Risk What God Asks
Deveop an Outward Focus
Build Multigenerational & Multicultural Diversity
Train, Learn, Share, & Partner with other churches
Common Obstacles Identified
Aging of Members
Resistance to Change
Fear of Failure
Who Are We Asking?
All clergy were asked to participate in an anonymous survey. Attendance trends, membership, and community demographics were considered. Worship attendance and visitor return rates were measured. Discussion groups were formed by age, church size, and ethnic background.
Recent UMC research is included in the discussions and reporting. Seeking out and listening to the voices of those that are not United Methodist and those that have no affiliation with any church is a critical piece that we are currently involved in. Each team member is seeking responses to the following question:
From your perspective, what are the characteristics of a church that is growing?
What will this work accomplish?
In April 2016, the Bishop requested responses for two surveys and in June he led us in holy huddles. Both surveys and holy huddles were designed to achieve several objectives:
- Clarify an understanding of who we are and provide insights on the present state of vitality.
- Create a vision statement that both reflects and drives the Desert Southwest Conference churches and ministries.
- Identify those places where we have experienced successful growth initiatives that can be shared.
- Uncover ideas that will help us better understand how we can become even more vital than we are today.