I just returned from the South Georgia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, our denomination’s annual gathering for worship, business, and fellowship. As with most mainline denominations (Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, American Baptists, Disciples of Christ, etc.), we are experiencing decline in membership. Leaders in the United Methodist Church are seeking ways to stop the losses through a variety of studies. In the United Methodist Church, the Call to Action Report is one study vehicle focused on vitality.
This Call to Action Report is moving many administrative leaders in the United Methodist Church to want to “measure” vitality through what some are calling “dashboards”. As to how vitality is defined and how it is measured, there is still not general consensus, but the movement to measure vitality has grown and is now upon South Georgia Methodists. Just as other conferences, we are headed toward the “dashboard” it looks like our Bishop is also wanting churches to measure statistics more regularly. Several other Methodist conferences are already using “dashboards” each week to fill out the statistics of what is deemed “vitality”.
Methodists have always kept good records and statistics, the debate now is more about which statistics speak most about vitality. Is it professions of faith? Baptisms? New members? Money given missions? Amount given to apportionments?