With a multi-decade career in engineering and problem solving, retired management consultant Richard Whittier can’t help but think like a consultant. His latest project – helping to develop a church vitality scorecard -- started as an idea from the District Leadership Team. “As we talked about ways to help the local church, we discussed the value of having a dashboard that would track church health in key categories and be viewable at a glance,” shares Richard. The scorecard highlights the church vitality “drivers” and “indicators” discussed in commissioned 2016 research from TowersWatson.
Richard’s role was to help simplify the information gathering process on metrics like the number of small groups, giving history, and attendance. “I knew that if we made it difficult to calculate these key numbers, the tool would be useless.” Instead, the team provided a simple Excel spreadsheet with blanks for key statistics in a form that would do the basic calculations and provide a snapshot of congregational health at a glance. “I am more than glad to be able to help promote congregational vitality,” adds Richard. “Our district leadership team wants to add value and come alongside churches to help them grow and have a broader impact.”
Three churches piloted the congregational scorecard this summer: Kingwood UMC, FUMC Humble and Cypress UMC. Rev. Jim Flagg, pastor of FUMC Humble knows most church leaders get so caught up in the immediate and myopic view that they struggle to see the bigger picture. Explains Jim, “The bigger picture is exactly what the scorecard helps leadership see. It helps leadership see the little ‘blips’ in the church as well as longer trends.” He says it also allows leadership to then ask questions of causality along with plotting solutions. “For First Methodist Humble it is being used as a predictor to see whether our vitality has increased or decreased in our mission field and what can we do to be even more vibrant in service to God’s Kingdom.”
Building on the success of the first three ‘test cases,’ the District Leadership Team will now begin discussing how to roll this congregational vitality tool out to churches throughout the conference.
“The Center for Congregational Excellence is thankful for laity like Richard, who are eager to apply their business acumen for the work of the kingdom,” notes Dr. Jesse Brannen, Center Director. “Not only does Richard live and breathe Excel spreadsheets, he is a 35-year member of Kingwood UMC that has supported the church as an adult Sunday school teacher, a leader in Kairos prison ministry and currently serves as the church Lay Leader.”
For more information on the scorecard, contact Jesse at firstname.lastname@example.org.