Vitality & Sustainability In Congregations & Judicatories Part 2: Congregational Vitality Assessment

(The 2nd in a series on vitality and sustainability in congregations and judicatories)

By Ken Howard

The Congregational Vitality Assessment is a ground-breaking, research-based online diagnostic tool
designed to provide a congregation with an assessment of its Vitality (how healthy it is) and its
Sustainability (whether it has the people, financial, and contextual resources necessary to survive).
The CVA measures ten areas of vitality and two indicators of congregational sustainability.

In other words, Sustainability is about Surviving while Vitality is about Thriving.

The following is an abbreviated list of frequently asked questions about the CVA
For a more detailed list of FAQs, click here:

Q. What is the purpose/benefit of the Congregational Vitality Assessment (or CVA)?
The Congregational Vitality Assessment is designed to help a congregation: (a) Diagnose its Vitality and Sustainability; (b) Identify its strengths and weaknesses; and (c) Develop and prioritize strategies to address the needs of the neighborhoods they serve.

Q. What makes the CVA unique?
A. The CVA is the only vitality assessment tool completely grounded in research on congregational vitality and sustainability.

Q. What elements of Vitality does the CVA measure?
The CVA measures how effectively a congregation is carrying out ten vital areas of congregational functioning, including Vision, Mission, and Discernment; Lay Engagement and Empowerment; Context Awareness and Inclusion; Change Readiness; Dealing with Differences and Conflict; Formation, Education, and Training; Outreach; Leadership and Organization; and Stewardship.

Q. What elements of Sustainability does the CVA measure?
A. The CVA measures two additional aspects of congregational functioning, namely: Internal Sustainability (whether the congregation has sufficient internal resources to survive, thrive, and carry out its mission; and External Sustainability (whether the neighborhoods the congregation serves have sufficient resources to sustain a typical congregation).

Q. How is the CVA best administered (what are best practices)?
A. Best results are obtained by administering the CVA to up to a 25-person representative subset of the congregation rather than the congregation as a whole (the exception to this rule is for congregations under 50 members, which would leave out up to half of the congregation). For a more detailed discussion, click here for our online FAQs.

Q. Is it possible for key leaders to take the CVA before using it in their congregation?
A. Click here to take a Sample CVA.

Q. What do CVA results look like?
A. When the individual or team has completed the CVA, the answers are scored, and a team leader receives summary scores of each of the ten vitality areas and two sustainability areas, along with suggestions for ways to improve in each of the areas (click here for more data from our online FAQs list).

Q. How should we interpret our congregation’s scores?
A. CVA diagnostic ratings are based on a criterion-referenced (not on a curve) 4-point scale: 1-2 is Low; 2-3 is Moderate; and 3-4 is High.

Q. What are the research sources on which the CVA is grounded?
A. Click here to review the research sources.

Q. What should our congregation do after taking the CVA?
A. There are several things a congregation can do after taking the CVA. These include:

    1. Review CVA results and recommendations with congregational leadership and with the congregation. Identify 2-3 areas of greatest strength and 2-3 areas of greatest weakness.
    2. Conduct a demographic assessment of the missional opportunities and challenges in the neighborhoods your congregation serves. Identify the 2-3 greatest opportunities and the 2-3 greatest challenges.
    3. Find consensus around the greatest strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and challenges.
      Select 1-2 of each.
    4. Identify the areas of congregational strength that you can leverage to effectively engage opportunities and challenges in the community.
    5. Identify strategies to engage identified community opportunities and challenges.
    6. Determine which strategies you feel called/equipped to pursue as a congregation.
    7. Implement strategies. Start small, experiment, and build on successes.

The above process is what we call a Missional Assessment. You can do it yourselves or you can engage FaithX to lead you through it (we meet with your congregational leader in four sessions over a 6-8 week period to guide you through the process).

If you have questions or want to discuss ways in which FaithX can help you after taking the CVA,
contact us at for more information.