16 Drivers

I am a self-proclaimed Methodist Geek and I’m about to determine if you are one as well.  If the phrase “16 Drivers” brings about thoughts of high school sophomores behind the wheel of a car, congratulations.  You’re not one of us.  But if you immediately went to the Call to Action, welcome to the dark side.

The Call to Action has about as many tentacles as an octopus family reunion, and one of the most helpful is the identification of the 16 Drivers of Vital Congregation.  A research group looked at a 32,000 churches, of which 15% were defined as vital or healthy.  They identified 16 variables that seem to make the difference.

Those 16 are:


1. Vital churches have more small groups for all ages.

2. Vital churches have more programs for children.

3. Vital churches have more programs for youth.


4. Vital churches focus on increasing the effectiveness of lay leaders. (Laity understand their role and carry roles out effectively)

5. Vital churches have lay leaders who demonstrate a vital personal faith. (This faith includes regular worship, intentional spiritual growth, personal devotional life, and giving of financial resources).

6. Vital churches place an emphasis on rotating lay leadership ion order to involve more people over time.

7. Vital churches call, equip, use, and support more lay leaders than non-vital churches. (Twenty percent or more of their worship attendees describe themselves as current or past leaders in their church.).


8. Vital pastor coach and mentor lay leadership.

9. Vital pastors use their influence to increase the participation of others in order to accomplish changes in the church 10.

Vital pastors motivate the congregation to set and achieve significant goals through effective leadership.

11. Vital pastors inspire the congregation through motivational preaching.

12. Vital pastors, when they are serving effectively, stay a longer period of time.


13. Vital churches offer a mix contemporary (newer forms and styles of worship) and traditional services.

14. Vital churches have preachers who tend to use more topical sermon series in traditional services.

15. Vital churches use more contemporary music (less blended music that includes traditional tunes) in contemporary services.

16. Vital churches use more multi-media in contemporary services (multi-media may not be as important as it is in some churches.

Go back and read those and divide them into three groups, either mentally or actually making a list on a piece of paper.

List 1:  Drivers we have in place currently.  Be honest and do so from the point of view of an outsider.  If you look at Driver #2, programs for children, and you can say that you have a children’s sermon in worship and that is the only program for kids, then no, you probably don’t have “more programs for children.”

List 2:  Drivers your pastor will be largely responsible for, given a supportive congregation.  For instance, driver #14, using topical sermon series, is really up to the pastor to decide to do.  But how much push back will she get for not following the lectionary?  Is the congregation prepared to provide funds and time away for continuing education as your pastor rethinks a preaching style?

List 3:  Drivers you do not currently have, but that lay leadership can develop.  Are you lay leaders willing to take on more responsibility in some areas and let the pastor have more freedom in others?  Looking at Driver 16, will the lay community as a whole change their perspective when that evil video screen appears in worship for the first time?

As you develop these lists, remember that this isn’t about pointing fingers.  Your non-vital church isn’t that way just because of the pastor’s preaching style or a lack of youth programming.  We really need to be a team working together.

Now, from lists 2 and 3, pick a few drivers to work on this year, maybe 2 or 3, and do them through lay meetings, discernment and consensus building.  Make sure your congregation understands the “why” as much as the “what” and the how.”

The General Church has developed a number of great resources to help that process.  Here is a PDF that talks more about the drivers and how to implement them.

And a whole host of things can be found at the Vital Congregations web site.



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