Craig PedersonBy Rev. Craig Pederson, Assistant to the Bishop

When your job title is “Assistant to the Bishop for Congregational Vitality,” you need to learn to have some fun with it. When I meet with church groups, I like to say that I have a special dispensation from the Bishop to proclaim “Vitality!” in a congregation and immediately it shall be so!

But we all know it’s not that easy.

Let’s start by asking, “What is vitality?” When I ask that question, I hear responses like:

“A place I want to be”
“A place I want to share with others”

Yes! All of these are great indicators of a congregation that is vital and responsive to the movement of the Spirit in its midst.

But can vitality be measured? And, if so, can we learn ways to develop and increase it in our congregations?

Again, yes! A relatively new tool developed by the ELCA – called the Congregational Vitality Survey (CVS) – helps congregations understand their sources of energy and life (as well as where those sources may be missing). More specifically, the CVS offers resources to congregations as they assess their connections to God, to each other, and to the world, with the conviction that these connections are what bring vitality to a faith community.

Three great aspects of the CVS:

  • It can be self-administered.
  • It is short (just 15 questions).
  • It is free!

While it can be self-administered, Pastor Deb Stehlin and I have been invited to use and interpret the CVS with more than a dozen congregations in our synod. We have found that it has been a wonderful tool for leaders to understand the perceptions and dynamics at work in their congregations.

If you would like to check it out for yourself, go to . If you would like to talk about a synod staff member accompanying you on the use of DVS, don’t hesitate to let us know.

To offer your thoughts to Craig, email him at or call him at 612-230-3316.