Church vitality succeeds or fails with leadership. A church that has clergy and lay leadership with the following qualities will bear fruit!
Something in their experience of God makes them unsettled with the status quo and drives them to take new risks for the Kingdom.
They may be unusually impatient with business as usual in UMC life. They have evangelistic zeal and want to engage their communities to connect people with Christ and the church.
They are committed to learning about and practicing what a vibrant and growing church is.
Lay and clergy leaders of churches growing toward vitality have an insatiable appetite to learn about and practice vitality. They are want to see their church succeed not just to maintain what has been but to become what can be under God’s guidance.
They have taken spiritual gifts and personality inventories and understand themselves, personality traits, strengths and weaknesses, and generally what makes them tick. They seek healthy balance in their personal lives and in their relationships with family and friends.
They have a coachable spirit.
They understand the value of having a skilled coach to help them get from where they are to where God is calling them to be. They do not resist, but rather seek out, help from others.
They have affinity for the mission field and the mission field has affinity for them.
They know, and continually learn about, the current culture of their community and genuinely love the people there. They are committed to doing everything possible to reach their neighbors for the Kingdom of God. Worship and other essential ministries are developed and implemented with the cultural context in mind.
They have strong support system (from their spouse, family and friends).
They and their spouse (if applicable) are at peace and unified about revitalization ministry and have embraced the sacrifices entailed.
They demonstrate a vibrant faith and lead without fear.
Leaders committed to church vitality have a strong sense of calling, deeply established prayer habits, and keen understanding that church vitality is a God thing. They understand that leaders always go first knowing they cannot motivate and inspire others if they themselves are not on a journey with God.
They are competent vision-casters and embody it in their behaviors.
Though styles and cultural norms vary across racial-ethnic groups, vital church ministry leaders are good communicators, able to share their faith in compelling and culturally relevant ways. They are able to speak with others in plain language about real life and how Christ makes a difference and why their church would add value to their lives. They come across to unchurched people as down to earth and relevant.
They persevere and are committed for the long-haul.
They have a “won’t give up” and “won’t back down” disposition that enables them to ride the sometimes rough currents of ministry. Problems, obstacles and failures cause them to step back, reconsider other options and press forward again.
They are team builders and equip others for the work of ministry.
They live out of an understanding of Ephesians 4 which teaches that their primary task to equip others for the work of ministry. They understand that ministry is not about them but about inviting and equipping others to do the work of Christ.
They grow spiritual leaders through coaching and/or mentoring relationships.
They will intentionally look for persons they can come along side of and invest their time and energy to help them become all that God intends them to be. They are careful listeners and, when necessary, speak out of best practice knowledge to help others become unstuck in their discipleship.
They are deeply committed to the health and vitality of The United Methodist Church.
They are willing to support The United Methodist Church and to grow a church which they eventually will give over to other leaders when the time is right.
*adapted from the Toward Vitality Research Project 2013 (GBOD, UMCOM, GCFA AND GCORR)