Extended Cabinet reviews our context

May 30, 2017

The Extended Cabinet met with Craig Robertson and Iosmar Alvarez of Spiritual Leadership Inc. (SLI) on Monday, May 22nd at Lake Junaluska to develop disciple making strategies. A key discussion for the day included reviewing the context of the Western North Carolina Conference, its churches and its statistics over the past five years. Below are some key statistics of our conference.

  • There are 1115 churches in the database, 1066 with five years of history. (Some churches were closed or merged over the five year period which explains the variance)
  • There are 27 churches with over 500 in average worship attendance; 52 churches ranging from 250-499 average worship attendance; 190 churches averaging 100-249; 269 churches averaging 50-99, and 528 averaging under 50 in worship.
  • 44% of our smallest attendance churches are growing while only 4% of our very large churches are. Also, 44% of our churches between 50 and 249 are growing.  Yet, 32% of our professions of faith come from the very large attendance churches.
  • The highest percentage of our growing churches (70%) are among our smaller churches.
  • There were 18 churches showing high growth (= 13% over the 5 year period) and 90 showing medium growth (= 4% over the 5 year period). 78 of those churches average less than 100 in worship, and 12 churches averaged over 250 in worship.
  • Overall, our worship attendance declined 2.9% per year over the past 5 years, and that is mild compared to the majority of other annual conferences, yet that decline could be reversed with an average increase of 3 new attendees per church per year.
Below are reflections from members of the Extended Cabinet: Mark Andrews reflected, “The data shared by SLI was encouraging as it demonstrated that growth in worship attendance is not limited to any one size congregation.  While there are churches that are struggling, the data showed that churches of all sizes can be fruitful.  Our next step may be to learn what we can from these churches, no matter their size.” Amy Coles said, “Any increase in worship attendance represents persons who lives as being impacted by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Praise be to God!  I find great hope in what we learned through these metrics.  Across our conference, local churches are making disciples of Jesus Christ and transforming lives and communities.  As we learn from their best practices in welcoming others into the community of faith, I have no doubt that we will reverse our overall decline.” Mark King stated, “Statistics are a quantifiable metric.  Using such metrics, we discover that in fact life and vitality are very evident in our annual conference.  We are among the strongest conferences in the United Methodist connection. We can turn this decline around!”