Extended Cabinet reviews our context


The Extended Cabinet met with Craig Robertson and Iosmar Alvarez of Spiritual Leadership Inc. (SLI) on Monday, May 22nd at Lake Junaluska to develop disciple making strategies. A key discussion for the day included reviewing the context of the Western North Carolina Conference, its churches and its statistics over the past five years. Below are some key statistics of our conference.
  • There are 1115 churches in the database, 1066 with five years of history. (Some churches were closed or merged over the five year period which explains the variance)
  • There are 27 churches with over 500 in average worship attendance; 52 churches ranging from 250-499 average worship attendance; 190 churches averaging 100-249; 269 churches averaging 50-99, and 528 averaging under 50 in worship.
  • 44% of our smallest attendance churches are growing while only 4% of our very large churches are. Also, 44% of our churches between 50 and 249 are growing.  Yet, 32% of our professions of faith come from the very large attendance churches.
  • The highest percentage of our growing churches (70%) are among our smaller churches.
  • There were 18 churches showing high growth (= 13% over the 5 year period) and 90 showing medium growth (= 4% over the 5 year period). 78 of those churches average less than 100 in worship, and 12 churches averaged over 250 in worship.
  • Overall, our worship attendance declined 2.9% per year over the past 5 years, and that is mild compared to the majority of other annual conferences, yet that decline could be reversed with an average increase of 3 new attendees per church per year.
Below are reflections from members of the Extended Cabinet: Mark Andrews reflected, “The data shared by SLI was encouraging as it demonstrated that growth in worship attendance is not limited to any one size congregation.  While there are churches that are struggling, the data showed that churches of all sizes can be fruitful.  Our next step may be to learn what we can from these churches, no matter their size.” Amy Coles said, “Any increase in worship attendance represents persons who lives as being impacted by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Praise be to God!  I find great hope in what we learned through these metrics.  Across our conference, local churches are making disciples of Jesus Christ and transforming lives and communities.  As we learn from their best practices in welcoming others into the community of faith, I have no doubt that we will reverse our overall decline.” Mark King stated, “Statistics are a quantifiable metric.  Using such metrics, we discover that in fact life and vitality are very evident in our annual conference.  We are among the strongest conferences in the United Methodist connection. We can turn this decline around!”  

Resources for Vital Congregations



Lewis Center for Church Leadership

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Books

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Serve Your Neighbor

GBHEM Leadership Resources


Living Faithfully: Human Sexuality and the United Methodist Church

Englewood Book Review

Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations

Ted Talks: The Golden Circle

Ted Talks: The Power of Vulnerability

Ted Talks: The Price of Invulnerability

Design Thinking

Meditations on the Ministry of All Christians


Be A Disciple

A Disciple’s Path; A Guide for United Methodist

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Adult Christian Studies from the Wesley Ministry Network

Traveling Together: A Guide for Disciple Forming Congregations


Living As United Methodist Christians

Methodist Doctrine: The Essentials

Reclaiming our Wesleyan Tradition: John Wesley’s Sermons for Today

John Wesley Sermons: Anthology


Get Their Name

Evangelism & Theology in the Wesleyan Spirit

Canoeing the Mountains

Fresh Expressions

Fresh Expressions: Dinner Church

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Reach New Disciples

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: 50 Ways to Reach People

Community: The Structure of Belonging


Institute for Emerging Issues

Congregations 4 Children


The Royce and Jane Reynolds Ministry Fund Grants

The Duke Endowment


The Appalachian District Church Vitality Team has been prayerfully seeking ways to help support you and the ministries of your local congregation during this COVID-19 pandemic. Together they have diligently researched and connected with others throughout the conference and our denomination to identify resources and offer them to you. We hope they will be helpful to you and bless you greatly in leading your churches and communities through this unprecedented time. We are very grateful to the District Vitality Team and other contributors for their great work on this resource.
This faithful team has created three documents, two of which you are receiving today. They include:

  • Family Home Worship – designed to help families establish a regular worship space within their homes as well as a time where they can worship together.
  • Tech Strategies – to help guide you in selecting effective tools and resources within your budget to best communicate in the digital world.

We believe these resources will be of great benefit to you. Also know that the District Vitality Team is available to answer any questions you might have in regards to the documents attached. If you have questions, you may email Rev. Howard Fleming at hfleming@wnccumc.net.


  • Resources
Follow Jesus. Make Disciples. Transform the World.