The Alban Institute, a non-profit that conducts research on what makes for effective churches in the United States began asking, “What would a transformed congregation look like? After considerable research, they concluded that a congregation is healthy and vital if it has fourteen characteristics:
1. Created and sustained by vital authentic quality worship that bonds the people to God and one another.
2. Enriched but not imprisoned by the past and open to the guidance of the Spirit.
3. Caring for the “Corporate Soul” of the congregation as well as individual souls.
4. Committed to a shared vision from which it prioritizes and uses its energies and resources.
5. Committed to an effective discipling process.
6. Healthy Leadership, both clergy and elected church leaders.
7. Committed to membership growth realizing that growth brings change.
8. Able to face and deal constructively with conflict.
9. Actively engaged in addressing the issues and problems of its community.
10. The congregation enjoys an “adult/adult” relationship with its denomination.
11. Places a high priority on biblical literacy and the capacity of members to utilize the biblical story to illuminate their own lives individually and collectively.
12. Committed to thinking globally while acting locally.
13. A wise steward of its resources.
14. Manifest a healthy sense of humor.
Whenever the question is asked, “How are we doing?”, it is helpful to have some tool or instrument for shaping an answer. After considering the fourteen benchmarks mentioned above, where do you think First Presbyterian of Delray Beach is succeeding in its mission? Where do we still need work?