Many people have certain ideas about what vitality is or looks like. Most of the time, those ideas are not based on what the research actually tells us. Based on the majority of research conducted by the United Church of Christ and other denominations, we can state the following about what vitality is not:
- Vitality ≠ Size
- Vitality ≠ Growth
- Vitality ≠ Numbers
First, vitality is not about size. Churches of any size can be—and, in fact, are—vital congregations. Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, vitality is not the same as growth. Because when most people think about growth, they think about numerical growth. If a congregation is not growing in membership and worship attendance, they think they are dying—this is simply not true. Lastly, vitality is not ONLY about numbers!
Kristina Lizardy-Hajbi, the Director of the United Church of Christ’s Center for Analytics, Research and Data (CARD), recently posted a very compelling article on the CARD website that provides an in-depth look at how our congregations can be more vital in today’s world: What Church Vitality Is Not