Shared Learning: Research

The Congregational Vitality Project is dedicated to studying what makes congregations vital and how vitality changes over time. It also looks which kinds of interventions help which kinds of congregations. This page shares brief summaries of original research, books and articles along with the researcher's reflections on vitality.

Findings based on work of the Congregational Vitality Project

Report on the vitality of new ministries of the ELCA based on their annual reports completed in 2016.

Vitality of ELCA congregations 2016 (Coming soon)

Blog summarizing annual reports from ELCA congregaitons plus actual reports for each synod and the denomination overall.

Initial lessons from first year of 12 synod strategies designed to improve congregational vitality.
This 2016 study followed up with 7 congregations that participated in a renewal program in Oregon from 2013-2015. See the interaction between pre-conditions within each congregation, engagement in core practices and missional transformation.

Early indications of transformation across congregations in multiple synods after training on congregational vitality.

Lessons from the Congregational Vitality Project: For years congregations and denominations have worked to become vital. We think we know what a vital church looks like and feel frustrated when all our efforts seem to fail. We worry about the future of the church. But what if God has something different in mind?
This PowerPoint presents a new way of understanding the relationship among 9 areas of congregational vitality at different stages of a congregation's life span.

Looking to the future - how the ELCA can begin to navigate adaptive change

This open letter to the Future Directions task force describes ways the ELCA can shift look toward the future by asking different questions.

Description of how the vitality survey was created and why. Original article is printed in the Review of Religious Research.