According to a denomination-wide survey of over 30,000 Methodist churches, close to 5,000 were considered "high-vital" congregations. Here is an Associated Press article on the survey, "Methodist Survey Aims to Stop Declining Membership."  

The survey highlights 4 factors as "crystal clear findings that are actionable"

  1. Effective small group related offerings including those targeted toward youth

  2. Inspirational pastors with longer tenure and topical preaching approaches

  3. Engaged lay leadership with 25-50% of the membership in active leadership roles

  4. Worships offerings that include a mix of traditional and contemporary

While I think that it is helpful to pass this information on, my main purpose for posting this information is to underscore a few important factors when looking at surveys. 

  • While surveys are one aspect of listening well, a sure sign of ineffective leadership is relying too heavily on them.

  • The article summaries are hardly  actionable, as they present a confusing mingling of issues that may or may not be systemic. In other words these results don't distinguish root level issues from fruit level issues.

  • I am tempted to dive into a critique of using surveys like this, as I find the usefulness of the results sometimes laughable. If there is interest out there, I will do it, and would appreciate your comments letting me know. 

Another reason this article caught my eye, is that I will be working with three very strong, "high-vital" congregations in 2010-2011. While I have served dozens of really effective Methodist churches over the past decade, (including Faithbridge, St. Lukes United Methodist, Chapelwood, Gateway Community Church and The Foundry, in Houston alone) this next chapter of my ministry will provide a closer look at the heritage of Wesley's influence in North America.