Today I would like to offer a quick look at another book I have recently read: Vital Signs: A Pathway to Congregational Wholeness by Dan R. Dick.
Vital Signs takes a close look at over 700 United Methodist congregations and offers a way to categorize congregations in one of 4 ways: Decaying, Dystrophic, Retrogressive, and Vital. The book discusses the attributes and characteristics of each type of congregation and offers a diagnostic tool to help church leaders determine where their congregation fits in this typology. The goal of the book is to help move churches towards vitality.
The book is organized logically and it is a pretty quick read. It is primarily useful for helping people to first see where the United Methodist Church in general, actually is at. (Only 9.6% of the churches surveyed were identified as vital congregations.) Vital Signs, secondly, will help leaders take a realistic look at where their particular congregation is at in terms of vitality.
This is a book I wish I had read at the beginning of my first appointment, as I think it would have helped me to begin to get a handle on where we are at and it would have provided guidance on helpful strategies to move forward. I would, as a result, recommend it to any pastor or church leader who would like to have a tool for assessing the vitality of their congregation.