For years the two primary measures of congregational vitality have been worship attendance and congregational income. But counting only “butts” (in the pews) and “bucks” (in the offering plate) can be misleading. Some wealthy and well-attended congregations may have a lackluster church life and no community engagement, whereas financially struggling congregations may exude a robust spiritual life and strong community ties. Recognizing these limitations, our denomination is now emphasizing the many ways that congregations can find life and vitality. Through stories, education and training, the ELCA is reframing our understanding of church vitality.

Download a study guide for the article “Led by the Spirit,” which looks at congregations that are energized by what God is doing in their midst. The pdf  includes four pages of study questions and a copy of the article.


Robert C. Blezard
Robert C. Blezard is pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Aberdeen, Md., and editor of Living Lutheran's study guides. Previously he served as an assistant to the bishop of the Lower Susquehanna Synod.

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