So What CAN Congregations Do?
By Taylor Burton-Edwards
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