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Four Marks of Vital Churches

A recent study of over 30,000 United Methodist churches revealed the marks of vital churches. These were churches of all sizes, but identified by their health. Characteristics analyzed were pastoral effectiveness, worship, lay leadership, and small groups and programs.

1. Long Tenures. The study determined that vital churches are those that have ministers with long tenures. Ministers are most effective when they stay with a church for 10 years or more. In addition, effective ministers spend time mentoring and equipping the laity for ministry.

2. Contemporary and Traditional Worship. The research also revealed that vital churches have contemporary and traditional worship services. Contemporary worship in these churches was defined as using multi-media; traditional worship was identified as vital when it reflected songs on contemporary radio.

3. Laity in Leadership Roles. Vital churches also have laity involved in leadership roles. Vitality was most effective when 25 to 50 percent of laity was active in expressing leadership. These members also were determined to have vibrant faith, and actively participate in exercising spiritual disciplines.

4. Vibrant Small Groups. Vibrant small groups also contributed to the vitality of churches, regardless of the kind of group. Further, vital churches were likely to have separate children and youth programs.

Are these the marks of your church? If not, what can your church do to improve in these areas?

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