Pathways to Vitality

Flower1Bishop Larry Goodpaster’s vision for Western North Carolina Annual Conference is simple- “More vital churches!” The fact that you are here may indicate an interest in wanting to become or continue growing a vital congregation. Fantastic!

Revitalizing churches isn’t about saving our conference or denomination and it isn’t about maintaining and preserving our buildings. Church vitality is about partnering with the Holy Spirit to reach people for the Kingdom of God!

This document is designed to guide you in your thinking about or working toward becoming a more vital church of Jesus Christ and direct you toward resources, processes and funding grants to help you accomplish what God has in mind for you.

Why Vital Churches?

“Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert. Be present. I’m about to do something brand new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?”  Isaiah 43:18-19 The Message

Here is our current cultural reality:

  • On any given Sunday only 22% of the population in Western North Carolina is in worship.
  • Over the past two decades not one county in the US has grown in overall church attendance/participation and that includes areas where our mega-churches exist.
  • When our population has been surveyed about their religious affiliation those who indicate “non-affiliated” or checked “none” include:
    • One out of every six Americans
    • One out of every five men
    • One out of every three young adults ages 18-29
  • In less than a half a century our “churched” culture has declined from 98% to 73% which is 1% per year.
  • If only 22% of our current population is in worship or participating regularly in the life of the church and that number is declining by 1% a year where will we be in 20 years?

The most effective strategy for reaching people for the Kingdom of God and helping them become disciples of Jesus Christ includes strengthening the vitality of our current congregations AND starting new churches in missionally appropriate areas and contexts. Already, many of our most effective new church plants emerge in, through and from our existing churches. 


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