Early this week, I received a letter informing me that Berryton UMC was a participant int he 3rd wave of the National Congregations Study (NCS) and that I was “one of a small number of religious leaders from across the U.S. chosen randomly to again represent [my] religious community in the 4th wave of the NCS.”
The National Congregations Study (NCS) is an ongoing national survey effort to gather information about the basic characteristics of America’s congregations. It is an effort of the University of Chicago and Duke University.
This is pretty great! I have looked at the key findings of the previous waves of NCS research and have appreciated the research. I participated in the phone interview this week and it was fun to be part of the ongoing research on religious congregations in the United States.
I was asked a number of questions about Berryton United Methodist Church, including around the history of the congregation, staffing, worship services, groups and activities, financials, and my background. I am looking forward to seeing the results of the work when they are published and glad to have been part of the process.
You can find out more about the National Congregations Study here.
Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the BOM Mid Quad Training Event in Denver. Bishop Hagiya of The Pacific Northwest Conference who shared his dissertation research results around the question: “What traits, qualities, or characteristics, if any, do highly effective and successful United Methodist Church ministers exhibit specifically in regard to growth of their churches when compared to less effective United Methodist Church ministers?”
From in-depth interviews in response to this question, Bishop Hagiya found:
12 Key Leadership Traits of Effective United Methodist Pastors
- Excel in Emotional Intelligence
- Excel in Transformational Leadership – They see the gifts in others, name & cultivate those gifts, and unleash these gifts and people into the ministry & community
- Possess a deep well of faith in a Triune God, from which spring their values, behaviors, attitudes and decisions.
- Have a passion for their work in ministry, and are engaged and focused in their work.
- Possess a deep humility that stems from their allegiance to a higher authority & calling.
- All have mentors who have shaped their formation, leadership in ministry and provided trust and counsel.
- Demonstrate entrepreneurial traits and behaviors.
- Excel in oral & written communications. They are some of the top preachers of their annual conferences.
- Demonstrate resiliency in their personal & professional set-backs, and attribute such resiliency to their faith life and practice.
- Have a personal vision, and that vision does have an impact on the larger vision of the church where they serve.
- Understand systems theory and organizational development.
- Adapt to and are impacted by the local church’s situation and context.
You can download a PDF of Bishop Hagiya’s full presentation here.
I was excited to read the latest book from George Barna – The Seven Faith Tribes: Who They Are, What They Believe, and Why They Matter. I deeply appreciate the work of The Barna Group. The research that they produce about life and faith is insightful and often quite applicable to the local church. However, I found myself to be disappointed by the trajectory of this book. The thesis is that the United States as a culture is in decline and that significant change is needed to avert the course toward self-destruction. Barna’s approach to this end is to examine different faith tribes within America, identify common values and seek how these common values can help shape the country in positive ways.
Barna identifies the seven faith tribes as:
- Casual Christians
- Captive Christians
- Spiritual Skeptics
I found the research that on each of these tribes to be fascinating and helpful in understanding the landscape of faith distinctions with which we live in the United States. However, I found myself less excited by using commonalities among the tribes to renew the nation. I agree with Barna that understanding shared values among faith tribes is important, but am less excited about using these shared values for the explicit purpose of renewing the nation. I believe that renewal within each of the faith tribes will lead to renewal of the nation.
I recommend this book to those who are interested in the faith landscape in the United States and especially to those that are passionate about the United States regaining a more prominent place on the world stage.
You can download the first chapter and a discussion guide here.
Read an article by Barna outlining the book here.