I’ve never heard of a religion consultant before, but I think the United Methodists may be using one. According to a BeliefNet report, the United Methodist church recently completed a study of 32,000 Methodist congregations, aiming to reestablish ecclesial vitality in the face of a financial downturn.
According to a “vitality index” constructed by the consultants at Towers Watson, four key areas drive the life of the Methodist church:
. . . small groups and programs, worship services that mix traditional and contemporary styles with an emphasis on relevant sermons; pastors who work hard on mentorship and cultivation of the laity; and an emphasis on effective lay leadership.
The study did turn up some surprising results. According to the data, it did not matter whether ministers held seminary degrees; whether pastoral ministry was a first or second career; or how long the minister had been engaged in pastoral ministry.
I wonder if the Towers Watson consultants are believers. Something just tells me their research for this project didn’t involve long nights at the office pouring over the Sermon on the Mount.