Healing Congregations: A Corrective to the Metrics of Congregational Vitality

Darryl W. Stephens


Since the 1970s, North American mainline denominations have monitored and measured the markers of congregational vitality in an effort to halt if not reverse denominational decline. The Vital Congregations Initiative of The United Methodist Church (UMC) serves as an illustration of the metrics of vitality, exposing the limitations of a quantitative approach to evangelism and congregational health. Viewed in the context of COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter, it becomes clear that congregational vitality requires healing and transformation, not simply church growth. A congregation must recognize its own woundedness as the body of Christ to receive the transformative healing offered by the Great Physician. Only then might this healing congregation offer Good News to a world hurting from corporate and social sin. This article, therefore, offers the idea of healing congregations as a corrective to the metrics of congregational vitality that has taken root within North American mainline Protestantism.


Evangelism; Mission; Vital Congregations; Congregational Vitality; Church Growth; Racism; Healing Congregations

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