How does one measure the life of a church? We often look at baptisms, commitments to Christ, attendance, or finances, but there are other vital signs as well. Psalm 92: 12,14 (NLT) says "...the Godly will flourish like palm trees...even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green" (emphasis added). Our church celebrated its 100th anniversary a few years back-- is she still "vital?" I think so!
I tend to look for vital signs as they're represented in groups of people. It's easy for a church to reach one group of people really well-- it's a lot harder to reach many different groups. Some churches do a great job with young families, others with seniors. Some churches seem to attract an affluent crowd while others attract a lower-income group. Of course, churches are often divided across racial lines as well.
Over the last year, our church has been focused on bringing a better balance to how we minister to many generations. As we prepared for our Church retreat at Bonclarken in August, It became of sign that we're on the right track. 27 registered, and every age was represented: toddler, teen, twenties, boomers, seniors, generation X, Y, etc... Here are some other "vital signs" for different groups in our church:
Children: Children's church is offered every Sunday, and monthly activities too. We've had regular participation in both.
Teens: Preparing to complete a study of OT prophets, ready for Senior high retreat and rafting in a few weeks.
Adults: Serving as teachers, leaders, volunteers. Ages 25-95 contribute a lot to Youth, Sunday School and Wednesday nights.
Seniors: SweetAgers offer monthly outings and a great support system. Several help with bulletins & newsletters, too.
Elders: Began communion for Homebound members and a word study of what it means to be an Elder.
Deacons: Have done significant work over the last few months to address needs in the sanctuary.
Women'sMinistries: Brought back quarterly large group meetings, initiated support of local pregnancy center.
MenoftheChurch: MOC is on break for the summer, but have been discussing guest speakers for the fall.
Choir: Recently attended local choral seminar and have tackled some challenging pieces recently.
YourPastor: Beginning a Doctor of Ministry program in September.
By God's grace, we're becoming more vital on the inside. Now, with God's guidance we'll grow vital on the outside--reaching our inactive folks, new arrivals to our community, and others who don't have a church home. Being vital is not a product, it's a process.