Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The 2012 State of the Church Report focuses on Vital Congregations

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.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Call to Action – Interim Operations Team Urges UMC to Stay Focused on Vital Congregations in Final Report

The Call to Action - Interim Operations Team (IOT) has issued a final report with recommendations to The United Methodist Church to continue work across the denomination on increasing the number of vital United Methodist congregations. They express an urgent need for UM leaders to make bold, systemic changes toward a more sustainable future.

“Business as usual is unsustainable. Dramatically different and new behaviors, not incremental changes, are required,” the IOT states in the report. “We have not yet seen the degree of shared sense of urgency or commitment to systemic adaptations with the redirection of leadership expectations and sufficient resources that our situation requires.”

The IOT urges continued focus on the adaptive challenge embraced by the Council of Bishops and the Connectional Table calling for an increase in the number of vital congregations.

“What matters is that we have clarity in giving focus to shifting resources to increase the number of vital congregations, urgency in paying attention to measurable results, and intentionality in the development and recruitment of young people for leadership along with support and evaluation of all leaders based on very high expectations for fruitfulness. What matters is that we sustain an unrelenting emphasis on integration and alignment of work to replace the current celebration of diffused activities and self-interested independence that are rampant across the UMC,” the IOT states in the report.

Named by the Council of Bishops (COB) and the Connectional Table (CT) in late 2010, the IOT was asked to identify issues and to develop a plan based on successful approaches used in other organizations that could be adapted and reapplied to the church. The aim was to identify strategies that would lead to significantly improved results in creating and sustaining more vital congregations.

To view the full report, visit: http://umccalltoaction.org.