Why aren't there more "Frequently Asked Questions" available?
We are just starting to populate our "Frequently Asked Questions" list. In a short time we expect this list to be chock full of thoughtful inquisitions and insightful responses - so stay tuned!
What is involved in VIM leader training and how does one go about getting trained?
VIM Leader Training is an all-day event geared to develop leaders for volunteer teams – teams that may work within our Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference, in projects around the U.S., and in locations world-wide. This leader training is required for teams to get the insurance offered by the General Board of Global Ministries or the NE Jurisdiction VIM office.
In addition, many people take the training to become better team members, or to learn more about VIM (Volunteers in Mission) so that they can “start something” in their churches.
What defines a congregation as a small membership church?
At one time a congregation with 200 members or less was considered a small membership church. Usually today we use average attendance instead of membership to determine church size. Not everyone agrees on the cut off, but generally an average attendance of 150 or less constitutes a small membership church.
How many small membership churches are there in the Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference?
If we use the 150 average attendance guideline, about 90% of Western Pennsylvania United Methodist congregations are small membership churches.
Other than size what are the typical characteristics of a small church?
There is a great variety of characteristics—not all small membership churches are the same! Obviously, there are a lot of differences between the smallest churches and those with 100 or more in average attendance. Generally, smaller congregations value relationships more than tasks, are well connected to the community and local history, are generous, resist change, and are actually more effective at evangelism than their larger counterparts.
(See Natural Church Development: A Guide to Eight Essential Qualities of Healthy Churches by Christian A. Schwarz; © 1996; ChurchSmart Resources, St. Charles, IL 60174, pp. 46-48)
Should all small membership churches aspire to be large churches?
No. Being a healthy, growing congregation is more important than achieving a certain size. Rapidly growing small churches will eventually become a different size and will then have to consider some options, including multiplication by division. Congregations that have experienced significant decline must decide whether to engage in “turn around” strategies or adjust to their current situation.
Each congregation has an obligation to be open to God’s direction, resist the temptation to try to be something they are not, and become the best of who they are.