Congregations who are looking to evaluate and renew their mission may find the ELCA Congregational Vitality Project to be a helpful tool.

The Congregational Vitality Project started as a way to better understand how congregations are living out God’s mission in their context. Frustrated by traditional measures of “butts and bucks,” researchers with the ELCA’s Research and Evaluation developed a simple, statistically reliable and valid survey that looks at the outcomes of ministry in terms of how it connects with God, each other and the world.

Often leaders and members of a congregation have different viewpoints of how the congregation is doing when it comes to carrying out their mission.  This is because they only see what is going on from their vantage point.  The Congregational Vitality Project is a helpful tool to gather perceptions from the many and varied viewpoints of church members to see a more realistic and larger picture of the congregation.

The Project defines congregational vitality in this way – a vital congregation is one that is connected to God, connected to each other and connected to the community and world beyond them.

Vital congregations exude a certain kind of vibrancy, a friendly welcoming manner, and a tangible sense of God’s presence. Those who attend regularly have a sense of purpose. They support each other by nurturing one another’s faith and helping each other identify their spiritual gifts. They use those gifts in the congregation and in the world. When they disagree, they do so in a respectful manner, ultimately strengthening the congregation.

The people in these vital congregations understand God’s mission goes beyond their walls.

They intentionally connect with the wider Christian community and within their local context to share the good news in word and deed by striving to be God’s hands in the world.

This description of a vital congregation emphasizes the relationships between the congregation’s members and God, each other, and the world – relationships all at the church’s heart, strengthening our connections to God and sharing God’s love.

~Congregational Vitality Index Supplement

The Congregational Vitality Project provides a survey that members can fill out that measures strengths and challenges in how they connect with God, each other and the world.  The results are then analyzed and the congregation receives a report that shows areas where they are strong and areas where there is room to grow.

The Congregational Vitality Project is meant to be used in partnership with your Director for Evangelical Mission.  Pastor Joelle Colville-Hanson is happy to work with you in this area.  There are many options from the full survey (with a nominal fee) to smaller surveys that can spark discussion and brainstorming.   Pastor Colville-Hanson can also help with resources for follow-up and answering “where do we go from here?”

For more information see The Congregational Vitality Project and/or call Pastor Joelle Colville-Hanson at the Northeastern Iowa Synod Office, (319) 352-1414.

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About The Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-Hanson

The Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-Hanson has been Director for Evangelical Mission, ELCA for the Northeastern Iowa Synod since late 2013. Part of her job description is to help leaders and congregations use social media and other digital means for outreach and mission. She writes and edits this blog as well as runs the social media accounts for the synod.