Characteristics of fruitful congregations

The Czech and Sloval Republics Annual Conference, which met from May 28 to 30, 2010, spent a vast amount of time thinking about the «Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations». Referring to the book of Bishop Robert Schnase, some pastors introduced the five practices and offered impulses how to put them into practice. 

In both countries the local churches are looking for new ways to live and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is essential as the time is over when people showed a natural openness for and an interest in the Gospel. Today the Czech Republic is one of the most secularized countries in Europe. In Slovakia there is a high percentage of baptized people, but most of them do not live as observant Christians.

In Prague (Czech Republic) preparations are well underway to establish an English-speaking Methodist congregation. The positive experiences with the work of the English-speaking congregation in Vienna (Austria) raised the wish to start a similar ministry in the capital of the Czech Republic

The UMC in the Czech Republic runs several diaconal institutions in many places. They are an extended arm of the serving ministry among deprived people, drug addicts or prisoners. It is, however, a constant challenge to find committed, qualified and well educated Christians for leadership functions in these institutions.

In the Czech Republic and in Slovakia the pastors’ salaries of all Churches are paid by the State since the Communist times. However, nobody really knows how long this regulation will remain in place and what a new regulation might look like. In Slovakia there will be another census in 2011. Right now the UMC is subsidized by the State according to the number of people claiming to be Methodists. Since in both 1991 and 2001 the number of Methodists according to the census was many times higher than the number according to the internal statistics, the UMC had the possibility to employ a considerable number of pastors and mission workers. It looks doubtful whether this will be the case after 2011, as well. If not, this would be a new challenge for the UMC: The current donations and offerings of the members and friends in both countries are comparably small since it was rather safe for the Methodists to assume that the State would cover the salaries.

The next Annual Conference meeting will take place from May 27 to 29, 2011, in the Czech Republic.

Source: Bishop Dr. Patrick Streiff
Date: June 1, 2010