Friday, January 20, 2012

So What CAN Congregations Do?

The 4 Core Competencies of Christian Congregations (+1 More for Methodists/Missionals!)

Without going into all of the historical background I might present to justify this here, I suggest there are four key things Christian congregations have organized themselves to do, and do well, since the late fourth century. 

I also include  a fifth competency for Methodist and other intentionally Missional Congregations-- or at least one we Methodists SHOULD include to embody our heritage fully: Inviting and Connecting People to Discipling Communities. I have another chart to post at another time detailing the Core Competencies of Discipling Communities.

What I am presenting here is the "outline version" of the 4 Core Competencies,  which I've actually reduced to a single page .pdf (downloadable here) to give a fairly broad yet comprehensive picture of the competencies themselves, the elements that make them up, and perhaps some indications of ways you might be able to measure your progress on each.

Core Competency 1: Offering Public Worship

Public— open and inviting to everyone in a particular place

Excellent— meets or exceeds local public standards for speaking, musical performance, and engaging the bodies and minds of participants

Accessible— to persons of varying levels of knowledge and ability

Recognizable— as being worship in the Christian tradition

Locally adapted— uses the wide variety of gifts and reflects the cultures of participants


Core Competency 2: Teaching Basic Doctrine

Confessing the faith— worship regularly confesses core elements of the faith that are remembered by participants

Living the faith— worshipers’ lives resemble what is taught and confessed in worship and other teaching venues

Articulating the faith— participants can accurately describe the core elements of the faith in their own words

Sharing the faith— participants share what they have learned with people outside the congregation

Passing on the faith— multiple systems ensure that the congregation forms newcomers and new generations in the basic teaching of the faith

Core Competency 3: Caring for Members and Participants
 
Physical Care— support for the physical needs of participants (financial, food, health, accessibility, transportation)

Ongoing Communities of Care— every participant is quickly and effectively connected with others who provide a community of basic caring and prayer

Emergency Care—  systems of communication ensure that persons in emergency situations receive appropriate and timely care

Transitional Care— intensive communities of caring for persons walking through significant transitions


Core Competency 4: Being a Reliable Institutional Player in the Local Community

Fiscal accountability — the congregation manages financial resources transparently and responsibly

Active — the congregation has or creates a history of forming effective partnerships that release the missional  capacity of the local community

Capacity — the congregation acts based on its programmatic, leadership and relational strengths

Trusted — the congregation has a good reputation among persons and other institutions in the local community


Core Competency 5 (Methodists/Missional Congregations): Inviting and Connecting People to Discipling Communities

Looks for signs ("bright eyes") that people are ready for deeper discipleship to Jesus

Invites people to consider and take next steps in discipleship to Jesus

Networks with accountable discipling communities, inside and outside the congregation, and regularly refers people to them.
 
Key leaders, including the pastor(s), are actively involved in accountable discipling communities themselves





The 4 Core Competencies of Christian Congregations Plus One More-- Copyright (c) 2012 Taylor W. Burton-Edwards for the General Board of Discipleship of The United Methodist Church

3 comments:

Kevin M. Watson said...

Thank you for this, Taylor. I have a question of clarification: How is "living the faith" in competency #2 different than discipleship?

journeyman37 said...

Good question, Kevin.

The key phrase here is "and other teaching venues." Those "other venues" include Discipling Communities.

What is taught in congregations tends to be basic doctrine-- the sorts of things summarized historically in creeds and often sung in hymns. From within the congregation itself, what "Living the Faith" suggests is that at least what it taught there is being put into practice in some way in people's lives.

journeyman37 said...

In the presentations I do on this model, Kevin, one of the things I note is that for Methodists over here, "basic doctrine" was essentially replaced entirely by "soteriology" from the "Discipling Communities" chart (next post on the blog), but by the late 19th century we have strong evidence (some of it in the form of journals and letters from bishops complaining about this) that soteriological/doctrinal teaching and preaching had waned substantially, being replaced, already then, especially in "high steeple" contexts, by moralistic and psychologically driven sermons and teaching.

So, for us, at least, there is work to do on this second competency now-- work to make clear what the basics doctrines of our church are through congregational teaching and preaching, work that has been generally neglected for well over a century.