Dallas, Texas -- For the next ten years, leadership of The United Methodist Church will seek to fulfill the adaptive challenge of increasing the number of vital congregations around the world. This will include sharing information and building resources to equip congregations and conferences with tools to increase, measure and sustain vitality. The newly released 2012 State of the Church Report, created in partnership with the Connectional Table, the Council of Bishops and the General Council on Finance and Administration, focuses not only on traditional statistics of the UMC, but also highlights ways in which the denomination is moving to create vital congregations.
"The adaptive challenge, which is based on research from the Call to Action Report, requires us to redirect the flow of attention, energy and resources to concentration on fostering and sustaining an increase in the number of vital congregations,” said Bishop Bruce Ough, chair of the Connectional Table. “As the 2012 State of the Church Report reflects, we are already seeing successful models emerging across the church but there is still work to be done."
The UMC has been fulfilling its mission in making disciples of Jesus Christ with nearly 12 million members worldwide, an increase of 25 percent over the past ten years. Much of the growth has been in Africa and the Philippines, accounting for 3.1 million new members since 2000. However, The UMC has experienced steep declines in the US and Europe, decreasing by more than 650,000 members combined since 2000. This ongoing trend of declining membership catalyzed the Call to Action research, resulting in recommendations to engage in concrete and measurable ways to increase the number of vital congregations that fulfill the church’s mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
"Since the time of John Wesley, creating vital congregations has been a centerpiece for the Methodist movement. It is time for us to reclaim that focus in a new way that allows us to encourage one another; to be accountable to one another; and then empower one another to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world," said Bishop Rosemarie Wenner, president of the Council of Bishops.
The 2012 State of the Church report is available online and through the November/December edition of the Interpreter magazine published by United Methodist Communications. The report is available in English, French and Portuguese and will be published in Spanish as part of the November/December edition of El Intérprete, and in Korean as part of the November/December edition of United Methodists in Service, a Korean language magazine published by United Methodist Communications.
The State of The Church report was first commissioned by the Connectional Table, the leadership entity that coordinates mission, ministries and resources for the denomination. The 2007 report was the first time the church produced a comprehensive overview of the life of the church. It has been used to stimulate dialogue across the denomination on how to carry out the mission of making Disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
The 2012 State of The Church report is a collaborative effort between the Connectional Table, the Council of Bishops and the General Council on Finance and Administration with production support from United Methodist Communications.