×
LifeWay introduces ‘Transformational Church’
Baptist Press
December 16, 2009
4 MIN READ TIME

LifeWay introduces ‘Transformational Church’

LifeWay introduces ‘Transformational Church’
Baptist Press
December 16, 2009

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — During the 2009 SBC State Conventions’

Summit, held Dec. 8-11 in Nashville, Tenn., LifeWay outlined its “Transformational

Church” initiative, a multi-year project set to launch in mid-2010 with the

release of Transformational Church, a B&H Publishing Group book

co-written by Ed Stetzer, director of LifeWay Research, and Thom Rainer,

LifeWay’s president and CEO.

Citing a season of “evangelical malaise” — when people are asking,

“What do we need to think about differently?” — now is an “opportune time” to

talk about church transformation, Ed Stetzer, director of LifeWay Research,

told the participants.

“Transformational

churches make disciples whose lives are being transformed by the gospel so that

the culture around them is ultimately transformed,” Stetzer explained.

“Transformational

churches are deeply committed to the essential foundations of discipleship:

worship, community and mission. They practice and make disciples through

vibrant leadership, prayerful dependence and relational intentionality, and

they do so in their context with a missionary mindset.”

Spiritual transformation is the work of God in salvation,

drawing unbelievers to Himself, regenerating them, indwelling them and

conforming them to the likeness of Christ, Stetzer said. Spiritual

transformation is experienced in the lives of God’s people and His church. They

impact their communities and the world as living testimonies of the

transforming power of Christ.

The initiative is designed around research which will be

revealed in Stetzer and Rainer’s book, and will guide LifeWay as it produces

resources to help churches spread the gospel and promote spiritual growth,

Stetzer said.

“The goal is

not to give a church a book, tool or research that will help them make the

headlines,” Stetzer stressed. “Our goal is to help churches — any size, any

location — make a biblical impact.”

For months, LifeWay Research has been surveying thousands of

churches from multiple denominations that are leading examples of spiritual

transformation, Stetzer said. Those interviews are providing a framework for

the resources LifeWay is developing to guide local churches through the

Transformational Church process.

“We’re asking

people who are doing what we want to do, how they do it,” Stetzer said.

Consultant training for Transformational Church will begin

in fall 2010, with other events and resources to follow, including pastor/staff

retreats and Transformational Church training conferences, Stetzer explained.

Ultimately, church leaders will be invited to involve their congregations in

the Transformational Church initiative by completing an internal survey and

tailoring TC resources to their people, churches and communities.

During a later session of the summit, Rainer told attendees

there are two motivating forces behind the Transformational Church initiative.

First, “we want to know reality. Facts are our friends and

they help us understand the current situation of the church in real terms —

good, bad and ugly,” Rainer said.

Second, “we see hope and possibilities in

what God is doing in local churches. This is what our research has shown us,

and we want to share this encouraging data with churches at all levels of

effectiveness.”

Drawing from the book of Zechariah and the seemingly

hopeless situation facing the Jews after their return from exile in Babylon,

Rainer said there are three reasons the American church has, in many respects,

lost hope: lack of focus, opposition from without and dissension from

within.

The new data from LifeWay Research, however, reveals many

churches are passionate about the gospel and, as a result, are thriving, Rainer

said.

“The most

important message is that churches are being transformed, and they are actively

engaged in the transformation of people and communities,” Rainer said. “Too

often we’ve highlighted the negative realities of the declining American

church, but we’ve missed the opportunity to magnify the God of hope and

transformation.”

More information about the project is available at

TransformationalChurch.com.