Saturday, July 18, 2009

Mapping Change

Church Council met on Tuesday and we began what will be an ongoing discussion about change. That, largely, is the purpose of this blog -- to look at the most essential elements of the church and discuss change. It has to be a conversation, or, in the best of the Wesleyan tradition, a holy conferencing.

The Annual Conference is using Dan Dick's book, "Vital Signs", to help set some parameters for revitalizing the church. We all took the survey in the book with our best guesses for the answers for now. In the next couple of weeks, we will do some research and find out what the real answers are.

Vital Signs looks at two factors for revitalizing churches, growth and stability and maps a church on this spectrum.

Now, we were just doing our best guesses on Tuesday night, but if they prove true, then we chart at about the "y" in decaying, meaning both unstable and declining (plot point -3.1,-.8) in averages tallied ably by Nick at the meeting -- thank you Nick. The quadrants are:
  • Decaying: both declining and unstable. 51% of the churches in his study fit into this area, and since half the churches in this Conference are under 85 in worship attendance. Stressed leadership and finances leads to an inward looking church.
  • Dystrophic: growing but unstable, these churches may offer lots of services to a bunch of folks but have a hard time keeping track of everyone.
  • Retrogressive: stable but declining, these churches are often transitional and have limited their focus to be manageable as they decline, or to focus their energies as they are growing from declining congregations.
  • Vital: growing and stable, they tend to define membership in terms of the ministries offered.
Follow the link to a nice summary article on this by Susan Hansen.

Tuesday night we began to talk about two questions: who does God want us to serve in Fortuna, and are we ready to care for those God sends?

Where do you think we are in growth and in stability? Do you have some advice for the Council?

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