What is the Congregational Vitality Project?

The Congregational Vitality Project is working to create a framework that can be used to measure vitality in multiple contexts across entire denominations. It was developed and published for use by the ELCA and any other denomination. Adding this tool to congregational or program evaluations is like adding blood tests to a physical exam that once only included height/weight, blood pressure, and temperature. It adds tremendously to the diagnosis and measures progress in ways the former measures cannot.

Adding CVS will provide the most important dimension (missional behavior) to our evaluation reports. It isn’t enough to know if efforts produce sustainable congregations, we must know if they are missional. By using a common vitality oriented outcome measure, denominations will be able to compare the impact of their efforts to support congregations. In this way we will learn which kinds of assistance are most helpful to which kinds of congregations.

Origins of the Congregational Vitality Project

The Congregational Vitality Project started as a way to better understand how congregations are living out God’s mission in their contexts. Frustrated by traditional measures of butts and bucks, in 2009, Linda Bobbitt (Vice President of the Rocky Mountain Synod from 2005-2013) in consultation with the ELCA Research and Evaluation department began work to develop a simple, statistically reliable and valid survey that looks at the outcomes of ministry in terms of how it connects with God, each other and the world. The project continues by working to understand what factors contribute to or distract from vitality and how those factors might be intentionally addressed to improve vitality.

Linda worked in Health and Human Services for 15 years where she specialized in outcomes measurement and program evaluation after reciving an M.S. in Counseling Psychology. Linda now works as an independent contractor helping denominations, synods/regions/conferences and congregations add a new dimension to how they measure vitality. Linda is also a student at Luther Seminary studying Congregational Mission and Leadership.

Publications

Bobbitt, Linda. Creating Shorter Scales to Measure Congregational Vitality. Review of Religious Research (2015/07/01 2015): 1-2.

Bobbitt, L.( 2014), Measuring Congregational Vitality: Phase 2 Development of an Outcome Measurement Tool. Review of Religious Research. 56: 467-484. DOI 10.1007/s13644-014-0158-1

See Research page for more information

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