Grace and Peace to you from our Lord Jesus Christ! I hope this finds you well.
This year has seen some changes in how we report our church participation. The Bishop of the Holston Conference has asked us to report our weekly vital signs on a website that every United Methodist local church can see. This level of transparency will help local churches of every size see how they are doing in two ways. First, we will have as accurate of a picture of our current situation as we can. Just like there is nothing like hearing our doctors say that our vital signs are in need of attention, when we look at our church’s vital signs, we can find out what needs attention. The second way in which we see how we are doing is by comparing ourselves to similar size churches. Granted, when we use the idea of a doctor talking to us about our vital signs, each person is different, in some ways. By seeing how other local churches our size are doing, we can see how we are doing and what areas may need some attention.
What are the items that we are reporting? We are reporting seven items each week. Let’s break these seven items down:
- Number of Worship Participants – gone are the days of bringing a bulletin from a church you visited on your travels! The focus is not just on attendance, but being actively engaged in worship. We report these numbers to see high and low Sunday’s, to find a pattern, and to find weeks that we may need to plan for improving on worship participation.
- Amount of weekly offering – a vital sign of an individual’s spiritual health and a local church’s spiritual health is reflected in the amount of money given. As we tithe, our dependence upon God for daily life continues to grow. Dips in giving may be signs of an unhealthy situation.
- Amount spent on Benevolences – our neighbors are looking to the church to be filled with love for Christ. That can be expressed in how we help our neighbors when they are in dire straits.
- The number of small groups – whether it is a Church Council meeting or a Bible Study that meets in someone’s home, the number of small groups are a sign of how alive a local church is.
- The number of participants in small groups – we count you one time, even if you are involved in several small groups within a week. To understand better how alive a church is, the percentage of worship participants involved in a small group shows how healthy a church is. If there is a high percentage of small group participants, then it is an indication of health, much like a high number for good cholesterol is a sign of personal health. The lower the percentage of small group participants means the local church needs to do some serious work to remain alive and vital.
- The number of participants in mission opportunities – Yes, we have to balance the idea of doing good works for God without thought of praise and the idea that being involved in our community matters. While we may not know exactly what sort of good works have been done, knowing that a local church has people who are living their faith in God outside of Sunday morning worship helps the local church. Here the idea is that as we exercise, our bodies can do better. Being involved in mission opportunities could be considered exercise as we are involved in our community.
- The number of Professions of Faith – a church grows by adding new people to the number of people who say they believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. When there are no professions of faith, then a local church begins to find out what needs to be done to stop that trend. Whether the professions of faith come through the youth confirmation class or the adult membership class, new people are welcomed and we work with them to make them into disciples of Jesus Christ.
I hope this helps you understand why you are important to Mt. Olivet! Your participation in worship, small groups, mission opportunities, your financial giving, and your praying for new disciples all make Mt. Olivet alive. It is by being together that all the people of Mt. Olivet make the love of Christ be known in our community.
In Christ’s Service,