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2020 Budget Proposal equips churches for vitality

By: Doreen Gosmire, director of communications, Dakotas UMC, with contributions from Bishop Bruce R. Ough, resident bishop, Rev. Rebecca Trefz, Executive Director of Ministries, and Jeff Pospisil, executive director, Finance and Administration

“Thank you for all you are doing to lead congregations toward health and vitality,” says Bishop Bruce R. Ough, resident bishop for the Dakotas-Minnesota Area. “God is doing life-changing ministry through The United Methodist Church and your leadership is making a difference.”

Highly vital congregations are focused on growing their vitality by making and maturing disciples, not achieving numbers. Highly vital congregations grow and support disciples and leaders through worship, small groups, lay and clergy leadership development and ministry and mission engagement. Highly vital congregations are in every geographic region of the U.S. and are of all sizes and ethnicity. Vital Congregations is a broad-based movement within the church that is making disciples and transforming the world.

The UMC began to measure vitality in the U.S. in 2010 and the latest 2018 vitality indicators for the Dakotas Conference show growth and challenges. Ultimately Vital Congregations is about changed lives and transformed communities.

“In 2019, there are hopeful signs across the Dakotas,” says. Ough, “United Methodists in the Dakotas are reaching beyond walls of their congregations to make disciples.”

Between 2017 and 2018, the latest vitality indicators show a 2-percentage point decrease in the average worship attendance each week. Specifically, online worship attendance decreased by 1,197 in 2018.  Physical attendance was down by 621.

Online worship attendance dipped at Embrace Church, located in the Southeast District of the conference. Embrace no longer has a pastor that focuses on online worship. However, the number of people worshipping online throughout the Dakotas, excluding Embrace, actually doubled.  

2018 statistics show there are several markers of vitality that increased:

  1. Membership grew for second year in a row: 2017 there was an increase of 957, and in 2018 there was an increase of 239.
  2. Every district, except the Southeast District—home of Embrace Church, grew in average worship attendance. Online worship attendance influenced the growth rate related to average worship attendance.
  3. Increased the percentage of worshipers from diverse ethnic groups by 1 percent.
  4. Increased the number of worshipers engaged in hands-on mission increased from 6,507 to 7,144, an increase of 9 percent. Increasing the number of people served from 193,954 in 2017 to 251,031 in 2018, a 29 percent decrease.
  5. Average percentage of a congregation’s giving to mission, both United Methodist and non-United Methodist, increased 17 percent in 2018.
  6. Number of worshipers to make a profession of faith increased by 1 percent. In 2018, there was a 31 percent increase in baptisms of persons over the age of 13.
  7. Percentage of congregations growing in worship attendance decreased from 31 percent to 30 percent.

“While we saw a slight decrease in worship attendance between 2017 and 2018, we are encouraged by the rise in baptisms and professions of faith, as well as serving and giving ” says Rev. Rebecca Trefz, who serves as Dakotas Conference Executive Director of Ministries “This is a testament to our churches’ continued commitment to invite people to take a step of faith commitment and to equip them to live out that faith through missional service and generosity.” 

“The Dakotas conference is committed to equipping churches for vitality in accomplishing the mission of making disciples of Jesus,” says Jeff Pospisil, who serves as the Dakotas Conference Executive Director of Finance and Administrative Services. “The 2020 budget proposal is an example of our commitment to continue to invest in the connectional impact of our ministries."

The 2020 budget proposal outlines a 1.1 percent increase in the apportioned budget and a 3.9 percent increase in the total direct bill for pensions and insurance. There is an overall increase, from the 2019 Budget, of 2.2 percent or $154,362. View the 2020 Budget proposal on pages 4-11 of the 2019  Conference Workbook.


Here is a video that outlines the specifics of the 2020 Budget proposal.