Image by wallyg via Flickr
Yesterday, on his personal blog (see link below), Will Willimon, Bishop of the the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church, wrote about characteristics of effective churches. Willimon says that the list below was developed by the leaders of the Southeastern Juridiction of the UMC and wondered how various congregations might embody or be in conflict with these characteristics.
Here is the list the leaders came up with:
- Love their particularly community. Their pastors have found a way not only to love their congregations but also their neighborhood. Effective pastors help their congregations move beyond love of themselves, turning their congregations outward.
- Rise above mere contentment with things as they are and do what is necessary to expect and welcome change, disruption, and movement, similar to that of the Risen Christ.
- Find a way to welcome the stranger and to practice radical hospitality in the name of Jesus Christ. They find a way to be as interested in those who have yet to join the church as those already in the church.
- Have a clear sense of their primary purpose and keep focused on their primary God-given missions.
- Enable lay leaders to lead, not just manage. Lay leadership that feels a strong sense of responsibility for the future of their congregation.
- All have a strong, change oriented, gifted pastor.
- Make growth a priority and figure out how to grow.
- Keep focused upon Jesus Christ as the originator of, and the purpose for the church (rather than church as just another human oriented institution).
Now don’t get me wrong in what I am about to say. I mean no disrespect to Bishop Willimon or the leaders who devised this list of effective congregations. As far as these things go, it is a fine list. But I have read over 50 books on church growth, renewal and effectiveness. I have attended more seminars on the same subjects than I care to remember, and over the past 20 years or so, I have grown tired of all the emphasis on these things.
For me there are only two marks of an effective church, which can be phrased as questions. First, does the church provide ample opportunities to worship God and connect with the divine? Second, is the church making disciples for Jesus Christ? Everything else flows out of these two things. At least that’s how I see things.
William H. Willimon
Posted on Wed, 10 Dec 2008 00:10:00 GMT