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SHARING the WORD CSB translation aims to help people discover God’s truth


With Beth Moore SEPTEMBER 16, 2017

J O I N BE TH MOOR E A N D THOUSANDS O F WO ME N WO RL DW IDE AS S HE SHAR E S TRUTH TO GUIDE YO U R OWN J O U RN EY OF FAITH Learn about hosting the simulcast in your church at L I F E W AY. C O M / L P S I M U L C A S T




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CSB translation aims to help people discover God’s truth


Read more about the Christian Standard Bible in our cover section.



COVER SECTION 12 Sharing the Word LifeWay hopes to jump-start Bible reading with new CSB. By Bob Smietana

18 Every word matters Why your Bible translation needs to be reliable. By Trevin Wax, with Rachel Poel

20 How do you translate the world’s most popular book? A conversation with David Allen, Tom Schreiner, and Trevin Wax

FEATURES 24 D iscipling in an age of biblical illiteracy What can you do to get people to dust off their Bibles? By Ken Braddy

26 Sacred spaces How your church building can bless your community seven days a week. By Bob Smietana


33 4 types of people curious about the church What working in Christian retail taught me about engaging the inquisitive. By Aaron Wilson

36 S tronger together 10 lessons I learned from leading my church through a natural disaster. By Jason W. Bland

41 The joy of diversity How my church learned to embrace multicultural ministry. By Mark Hearn

44 A new metric for discipleship? Church growth numbers don’t show whether people are maturing in faith. By Daniel Im

IN EVERY ISSUE 4 Inside F&T Reading the Bible, finding new life. By Carol Pipes

5 From My Perspective

35 7 Insights

Beliefs, issues, and trends impacting the church and our world.

35 Calibrate The role of the pastor when sharing the gospel is meant for every believer. By Joel Southerland

48 On Our Radar Relevant and practical resources for you and your church.

JOIN US ONLINE FactsAndTrends.net Can’t wait until the next issue? Make sure to visit FactsAndTrends.net for exclusive online content. Read additional pieces from our writers and editors, as well as contributions from other Christian leaders.

FactsAndTrends @FactsAndTrends

How do we lead the people in our churches to engage God’s Word? By Thom S. Rainer


Facts & Trends • 3


Reading the Bible, finding new life


’ll never forget the day it happened. I was caught. A friend stopped by my college dorm room to say hello. “What are you doing?” she asked. “Um, reading my Bible,” I replied. “Why?” I paused for a minute and explained that reading the Bible is an important part of my walk with Jesus Christ. And that by reading God’s Word I could know Him more and be made more like Him. She looked at me like I had two heads and then tried to brush it off. “Oh. Cool.” And that was the end of the discussion. I think back to that day and wish I’d said more. This friend had grown up attending church occasionally. But she’d never read the Bible on her own. Years have passed since that interaction and our lives have taken separate paths. We wish each other a happy birthday and occasionally “like” each other’s posts on Facebook. But that’s been most of our interaction. Recently, I learned my friend has been attending a Bible study in her neighborhood. For the first time in her life, she’s digging into God’s Word. And it’s changing her. She’s asking questions about God and faith. And she’s thinking about how she’s living her life in light of Scripture. It’s exciting to see and hear how God’s Word is transforming my friend. We talk a lot in our office about the stats and studies on Bible reading. It’s one thing to read a report that says Bible reading has the greatest impact on discipleship. It’s another to see it come alive in a friend’s spiritual journey. In this issue of Facts & Trends, we look at the state of Bible reading in the U.S. I’ll give you a hint: it’s not great news. While most Americans tend to own a copy of God’s Word, they rarely read it. In our cover story, we dig into the numbers—who’s reading the Bible, who’s not, and why. We also look at the newly revised Christian Standard Bible and how LifeWay hopes it will help spark Bible reading in the U.S. and around the world. On page 18, LifeWay’s Bible and Reference Publisher Trevin Wax explains why a reliable translation, like the CSB, is essential for Christian growth. In his column, LifeWay President and CEO Thom S. Rainer offers ways church leaders can help people engage God’s Word. We’re excited about the launch of the Christian Standard Bible. It’s a beautiful translation that communicates ancient truths to today’s audience as faithfully and clearly as possible. That’s good news for longtime Bible readers and teachers, as well as for people like my friend who are discovering God’s truth for the first time. Carol Pipes, Editor @CarolPipes | Carol.Pipes@LifeWay.com

4 • Facts & Trends

Volume 63 • Number 4 • Summer 2017 Facts & Trends is designed to help pastors and other Christian leaders navigate the issues and trends impacting the church by providing information, insights, and resources for effective ministry. PRODUCTION TEAM Editor in Chief | Carol Pipes Senior Editor | Lisa Cannon Green Senior Writer | Bob Smietana Online Editor | Aaron Earls Associate Editor | Aaron Wilson Graphic Designer | Katie Shull LIFEWAY LEADERSHIP President and Publisher | Thom S. Rainer Executive Vice President | Brad Waggoner CONTRIBUTORS Jason W. Bland, Ken Braddy, Mark Hearn, Daniel Im, Rachel Poel, Carmen K. Sisson, Joel Southerland, and Trevin Wax ADVERTISING Send advertising questions/comments to: F  acts & Trends Advertising One LifeWay Plaza, MSN 192 Nashville, TN 37234 Email: Carol.Pipes@LifeWay.com Media kits: FactsAndTrends.net/Advertise This magazine includes paid advertisements for some products and services not affiliated with LifeWay. The inclusion of the paid advertisements does not constitute an endorsement by LifeWay Christian Resources of the products or services. Subscriptions For a free print subscription to Facts & Trends, send your name, address, and phone number to FactsAndTrends@LifeWay.com. Permissions Facts & Trends grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be photocopied for use in a local church or classroom, provided copies are distributed free and indicate Facts & Trends as the source. Contact Us: Email - FactsAndTrends@LifeWay.com Mail - F acts & Trends, One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN 37234-0192 Facts & Trends is published quarterly by LifeWay Christian Resources. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, copyright 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. SUMMER 2017


How do we lead the people in our churches to engage God’s Word?


eading and studying the Bible daily may be the most important act a Christian can do to grow as a disciple. Unfortunately, our research shows only 39 percent of churchgoers read the Bible in a systematic manner every day. That leaves a large portion of people who could use some encouragement and prompting to make daily Bible reading a priority. The Word of God is powerful and transformative, but many in our churches are missing out on its transformative power. Here are some practical steps church leaders can take to get their church members involved in daily Bible reading. 1. Help congregants see the big picture of Scripture and how it is connected to their lives. Teach a broad overview of the Bible so members can understand how the stories, chapters, and verses they read fit together in the grand narrative of Scripture. 2. Model a healthy hermeneutic. Pastors have the opportunity to show their congregation how to read the Bible in context. As you preach on a particular passage, explain the human author’s original intent in writing the Scripture. Ask and answer questions about what was happening historically and culturally when the text was written. Help people think through what the text would have meant to its first audience and then move to how it applies to us today. Remember, the way you preach a text on Sunday morning will influence how your people engage the Bible during the week. 3. Encourage people to join small groups for Bible study. A LifeWay Research study found people who attend some type of small group are more than twice as likely as non-group attenders to read their Bible regularly (67 percent vs. 27 percent). Nothing can replace groups reading and discussing Scripture together.

4. Talk about your own Bible reading and how God is using Scripture to transform your life. Let people know you read the Bible for personal growth, not only sermon or teaching prep. It’s important church members see that their leaders have made daily Bible reading a priority. 5. Give them permission to ask questions. One reason people give for not reading the Bible is that they don’t understand it. Remind your people that it’s okay to ask questions and wrestle with the text. Talk about your own questions and how God has used them to grow your own understanding of His Word. 6. Provide a Bible-reading plan for the whole church. The new year is a natural time to start a new initiative, but you need to start planning now for how you’ll lead your congregation through God’s Word in 2018. Consider having a time of commitment in December. Provide a printed or digital plan to begin reading January 1. Use email, newsletters, or social media to give weekly reminders. 7. Encourage members to share what God is teaching them through their daily Bible reading. Provide video testimonies of transformed lives of those who engage in regular Bible study and reading. As church leaders, we have the opportunity to help new believers and mature believers engage God’s Word. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of daily Bible reading. The more time we spend in God’s Word, the more we become like Him. Imagine what would happen in our churches, in our nation, and in our world if all believers were experiencing the transforming power of God’s Word on a daily basis. THOM S. RAINER (@ThomRainer) is president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Read more at ThomRainer.com.


Facts & Trends • 5

FactsAndTrends.net Exclusive content available on our website The Surprising Reason Most People Choose a Church Most Protestant church attenders (83 percent) say sermons are the primary reason they choose a congregation, according to Gallup.

9 Ways Your Church Can Use Facebook Live Almost 8 in 10 online American adults use Facebook. Now the social media giant has made it easier for church leaders to keep in contact with their congregants through Facebook Live.

Americans, Especially Millennials, Want God Without Religion Analysis of data released by the General Social Survey shows the U.S. rapidly embracing the “spiritual but not religious” concept.

10 Ways to Misunderstand Scripture Understanding the issues that go into biblical interpretation can be challenging at times, but there are several clear pitfalls we should avoid.




6 • Facts & Trends

FactsAndTrends SUMMER 2017


Beliefs, issues, and trends impacting our world



ost Protestant senior pastors say their church is open to hearing about racial reconciliation. But few say church leaders are clamoring to hear more about it. And most pastors seem to choose personal relationships and prayer when it comes to matters of race, according to a new study from LifeWay Research. The survey of 1,000 Protestant senior pastors found little pushback against or demand for sermons on racial reconciliation in their churches.


No 73%


No 84%

10% Have not addressed racial reconciliation from the pulpit 5% Yes

Notes: Respondents could select all that apply. 1% were not sure.

Among Protestant pastors:

Source: LifeWay Research



Facts & Trends • 7



he latest translation — into Daasanach, a language spoken by an ethnic group inhabiting parts of Ethiopia, Kenya, and Sudan — is part of the Jesus Film Project’s initiative to reach the world’s remaining 865 language groups that have 50,000 or more speakers.

It’s a “big milestone,” says Josh Newell, director of marketing and communications, “a celebration of a partnership from Bible translators to church planters to individuals who use it throughout the world to reach people from far-flung corners to city high-rises.” Multiply those partnerships across 1,500 languages and 37 years, and “you just have to sit back and say, ‘God, You’re so amazing,’” he says. Since 1979, the film has been used to make 7.5 billion gospel presentations in 230 countries, with more than 490 million people indicating a decision for Christ after viewing it. Source: Baptist Press

People are comfortable saying they’re depressed. But they’re not comfortable saying they’re lonely, because you’re the kid sitting alone in the cafeteria.” —Dr. Richard S. Schwartz, a Cambridge psychiatrist, as quoted in the Boston Globe Magazine. Schwartz is co-author of The Lonely American: Drifting Apart in the Twenty-first Century.

8 • Facts & Trends




Beliefs, issues, and trends impacting our world


100 4 780 million American consumes per day

Number of people globally who lack access to clean water

$25 $1,000

Cost of a water filter to provide clean water for a family in the developing world (GoBGR.org)

Cost of a water well that will provide clean water for an entire community (GoBGR.org)

Sources: Popular Science, CDC.gov, GoBGR.org


Number of 16.9-ounce bottles of water an average adult needs to drink daily to prevent dehydration


oing to church may be good for your body, your soul, and your marriage, according to a study from Harvard scholar Tyler VanderWeele.

In recent years, VanderWeele, professor of epidemiology at Harvard’s school of public health, has been analyzing data from the Nurses’ Health Study, a national survey of 75,000 women with data on diet, health, and lifestyle. The study tracked participants from 1996 to 2012. Among the questions the survey asked was: “How often do you attend religious services?” VanderWeele and other researchers found those who attended services more than once a week lived longer and were less likely to get divorced or become depressed.

Compared to those who never attend religious services, frequent attenders were:

 ercent less likely to be 50 pdivorced percent less likely to die during 33 the survey period  ercent less likely to 27 pbecome depressed SHUTTERSTOCK


Source: Tyler J. VanderWeele, Harvard University, unpublished paper Facts & Trends • 9

We need to allow the Bible to instruct us how to assemble our lives. This is done through consistent reading, study and memorizing of God’s Word.” —Paul Smith, pastor of First Baptist Church, Chandler, Arizona, and associate professor of Old Testament studies at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary’s Arizona campus, writing in Portraits magazine




ost atheists and agnostics don’t mind if you offer to pray for them. Just don’t ask them to join in. A survey sponsored by a former atheist turned faith blogger/data journalist looked at how atheists and agnostics, who make up about 7 percent of Americans, view public displays and conversations about faith. Only a third say they are uncomfortable when someone asks about their religion. A similar number are uncomfortable when someone else talks about faith. Just over a quarter (27 percent) are bothered by prayer before meals, while 3 in 10 don’t like it when someone offers to pray for them. By contrast, almost two-thirds (62 percent) say they are uncomfortable when someone asks to pray with them.

Reactions of Americans who identify as agnostic or atheist to public mentions of faith:



Brings up their religion


Asks about my religion

Says, “I’ll pray for you”

Prays before meals




10 • Facts & Trends

Source: SurveyMonkey Audience

Asks to pray with me



Beliefs, issues, and trends impacting our world





ome pastors make great bosses—and some don’t, says Thom S. Rainer, president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. “In the course of three decades, I have seen some pastors thrive and some pastors fail,” he wrote at ThomRainer.com. “And I have seen two common reasons for pastors failing. They lack leadership skills and they lack relational skills. Most pastors have no formal training in either. Yet they are expected to lead and relate the first day they begin serving a church. Indeed, many pastors are expected to be bosses of full-time or part-time personnel even though they may have never led anyone.” Rainer recently asked readers of his leadership blog about what makes a pastor a great or terrible boss. Here’s what he found.

or many Christians in the United States, reading the Bible is seen as an afterthought. As part of a study of the role of faith in everyday life, Pew Research asked self-identified American Christians what parts of being a Christian are essential. Belief in God and a sense of gratitude topped the list, while living a healthy lifestyle, resting on the Sabbath, or buying from companies that pay fair wages were at the bottom. Only 42 percent said reading the Bible or other religious material is essential.

Which of the following are essential parts of what being a Christian means to you? Believing in God


Being grateful for what you have


Forgiving those who have wronged you


Being honest at all times


Praying regularly


10 ways to be

10 ways to be

Working to help the poor and needy




Committing to spend time with family


• • • •

• • • • • • • • • •

Reading Bible/religious material


Attending religious services


Not losing temper


Helping out in your congregation


Dressing modestly


Working to protect the environment


Living a healthy lifestyle


Resting on the Sabbath


Buying from companies that pay fair wages


• • • • • •

Cast a clear vision and path. Support other ministries. Create a fun atmosphere. Provide a good role model and example. Be decisive. Include other staff as part of the team. Have the backs of your staff. Listen well. Support the staff member’s family. Communicate frequently and clearly.

Micromanage. Avoid conflict. Avoid making decisions. Steal credit. Shift blame. Hoard information. Fail to listen. Set a poor example. Have a poor work ethic. Neglect staff development.

Source: ThomRainer.com


Source: PewResearch.org

Facts & Trends • 11

Sharing the word LifeWay hopes to jump-start Bible reading with new CSB


By Bob Smietana

The Bible might be the most beloved and neglected book in America. Americans love the Bible so much almost everyone—87 percent of households—has a copy. Many American households (41 percent) own four or more copies, according to a report from the American Bible Society. And a LifeWay Research study found half of Americans believe the Bible alone is the Word of God.

12 • Facts & Trends



Still, many Americans never get around to reading the Scriptures. Only one in five reads the Bible every day or has read the whole thing. Meanwhile, a third say they never pick it up. “Here in the U.S., the problem isn’t that people don’t own a Bible,” says Eric Geiger, vice president of LifeWay Christian Resources. “It’s that they don’t read the Bible they have.” LifeWay leaders hope the launch of the newly revised Christian Standard Bible (CSB) translation will help solve that problem. People often cite two major reasons for not reading the Bible. They are either too busy or they’re intimidated because they don’t understand what the Bible means, according to the American Bible Society. While the CSB can’t give people more time, it can help people understand the Bible better. The translation was designed to be easy to understand yet faithful to the original manuscripts, using the best of modern Bible translation methods. Modern Bible translations tend to use two major methods. Some, like the English Standard Version (ESV), use a word-for-word approach, known as “formal equivalence,” which stresses being highly literal to the original text. Others, like the Good News Bible, use a thought-for-thought approach, known as “dynamic equivalence,” which stresses readability and comprehension. Some use a combination of the two. Two-thirds of Protestants who read the Bible at least once a month want a word-for-word translation, compared to one-third of Protestants who prefer a thought-for-thought approach, according to LifeWay Research. The Christian Standard Bible uses a translation philosophy called “optimal equivalence”—which stresses being both highly literal and highly readable. “You don’t have to choose between a

translation that is faithful to the original languages and one that is readable,” Geiger says. “With the CSB, Bible readers can have both.” Accurate and trustworthy LifeWay Research found that Bible readers—in particular Protestants who read the Bible at least once a month— want a translation that is readable while remaining faithful to the original manuscripts. Three-quarters (74 percent) want a Bible that’s accurate, while 57 percent want a Bible that’s trustworthy. A similar number (56 percent) want a Bible that’s easily understood.

The problem isn’t that people don’t own a Bible. It’s that they don’t read the Bible they have.” —Eric Geiger, vice president of LifeWay The CSB meets all those expectations, says Trevin Wax, Bible publisher for LifeWay Christian Resources. “Accuracy refers to what the Bible is,” Wax explains. “Trustworthiness can also include other factors. Who stewards it? Are there scholars I respect who devoted time to this Bible? Are there pastors I respect who use it and recommend it?” Wax says the CSB will work for pastors and ordinary Christians alike. It’s suitable for preaching and for day-to-day study. He also believes the CSB makes discipleship and evangelism easier. “Because it’s clear and easy to read, I can share it with people who are new to the Word of God as well as those who are already regular Bible readers,” he says. The CSB is a revision of the Holman Christian Standard Bible, which was translated from the original Hebrew and


Facts & Trends • 13

Greek manuscripts by a team of 100 Bible scholars from 17 denominations. The revision and oversight committee took advantage of new biblical scholarship as well as input from readers, pastors, and Bible scholars. Christian songwriter and Bible teacher Michael Card served as the stylist, paying special attention to the beauty of the text, including how the CSB would sound when read aloud. LifeWay President and CEO Thom S. Rainer called the launch of the CSB “one of the most significant projects LifeWay has ever undertaken. “We know millions of pastors, teachers, and Bible readers have a

commitment to God’s Word,” says Rainer. “At LifeWay, we share that commitment.” The Bible and spiritual growth LifeWay has ambitious goals for the CSB, says Geiger. He hopes millions of people will read this translation in the years to come—and that the CSB will boost Bible reading overall, no matter what the translation. That’s important, he says, because reading Scripture leads to spiritual growth. A previous LifeWay Research study found reading the Bible is the number one indicator of spiritual growth. Those who read the Bible

1 in 10 Americans

has never read the Bible

1 in 5 Americans

reads the Bible every day

1/3 of Americans believe the Bible is life-changing

39% of churchgoers say they read the Bible in a systematic way each day Source: LifeWay Research

14 • Facts & Trends



regularly are more likely to confess their sins to God and ask for forgiveness, make a decision to obey God even though it might be costly, and pray for non-Christians, according to LifeWay Research. “We can’t grow apart from the Scripture,” says Geiger. “We can’t grow without reading God’s Word.” However, getting people to read the Bible remains a constant challenge, according to LifeWay Research. Only about a quarter of Americans (22 percent) read the Bible in a systematic way, focusing on a section each day. A quarter (27 percent) read verses suggested by other people, while 19 percent prefer to reread favorite stories or verses. Three in 10 look up Bible verses on an as-needed basis, while 17 percent flip a Bible open and read whatever page they land on. A third of Americans (35 percent) never read the Bible on their own. Even among churchgoers, only 39 percent say they read the Bible in a systematic manner every day. That leaves a large portion of churchgoers whose Bible reading is spotty at best. Twelve percent of churchgoers say they never read the Bible on their own. LifeWay Research also found Americans are split on how much of the Bible they have read. Fifty-three percent have read less than half, including 1 in 10 who has read none of the Bible and 30 percent who’ve read just a few stories or passages. Only 1 in 5 has read the whole thing, while an additional 12 percent have read most of the Bible. Overall, Americans have a positive view of the Bible. About a third (37 percent) say it’s helpful today, while a similar number call it life-changing (35 percent) or true (35 percent). Half (52 percent) say the Bible is a good source for morals. Few say the Bible is outdated (14 percent), harmful (7 percent), or bigoted (8 percent).

Because it’s clear and easy to read, I can share it with people who are new to the Word of God as well as those who are already regular Bible readers.” —Trevin Wax, LifeWay Bible publisher A number of reasons keep Americans from reading the Bible. About a quarter (27 percent) say they don’t prioritize it, while 15 percent don’t have time. Thirteen percent say they’ve read it enough. Fewer say they don’t read books (9 percent), don’t see how it relates to them (9 percent), or don’t have a copy (6 percent). Overall, Americans seem to like the Bible but don’t have much urgency about reading it. By skipping out on the Bible, they are missing the chance to know God and grow spiritually, says Geiger. That makes growing the number of Bible readers essential. “God’s Word is faithful and true—we want to provide a translation that is faithful to the original text while being clear for today’s reader,” Rainer says. “Because the Christian Standard Bible captures the Bible’s original meaning without compromising clarity, I believe it will engage more people in reading and sharing the truth of God’s Word with others.” BOB SMIETANA (@BobSmietana) is senior writer for Facts & Trends. Aaron Earls contributed to this story.


Facts & Trends • 15

Translation comparisons Formal (word-for-word)

Translation name Reading level Originally published




New American Standard Bible

English Standard Version

King James Version

11th grade

10th grade

12th grade




John 3:16 “In this way” is the correct translation of the Greek houtos, a word that indicates more of the manner in which God loved the world rather than the extent to which he loved it; “one and only Son” is a more accurate translation of the Greek monogenes.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

“But I gave you also cleanness of teeth in all your cities And lack of bread in all your places, Yet you have not returned to Me,” declares the Lord.

“I gave you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and lack of bread in all your places, yet you did not return to me,” declares the Lord.

And I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and want of bread in all your places: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord.

Psalm 1:1 The CSB preserves the poetic symbols of “walk,” “stand,” and “sit.” “Happy” is a better translation of the Hebrew in this context. Also, the English idiom of “standing in someone’s way” could be misunderstood.

Amos 4:6 “Cleanness of teeth” is a Hebrew idiom meaning hunger, not good dental hygiene; CSB’s rendering gives clarity for a modern audience.

Note: Original release dates used for comparison. Some translations have had updates or changed names since their original release.

16 • Facts & Trends



Dynamic (thought-for-thought)





New King James Version

Christian Standard Bible

New International Version

New Living Translation

7th grade

7th grade

7th grade

6th grade





For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;

How happy is the one who does not walk in the advice of the wicked or stand in the pathway with sinners or sit in the company of mockers!

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers,

Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers.

“Also I gave you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, And lack of bread in all your places; Yet you have not returned to Me,” Says the Lord.

I gave you absolutely nothing to eat in all your cities, a shortage of food in all your communities, yet you did not return to me. This is the Lord’s declaration.

“I gave you empty stomachs in every city and lack of bread in every town, yet you have not returned to me,” declares the Lord.

“I brought hunger to every city and famine to every town. But still you would not return to me,” says the Lord.

See more comparisons at CSBible.com


Facts & Trends • 17

every word matters Why your Bible translation needs to be reliable


By TREVIN Wax, with Rachel Poel

Shopping for a book about a foreign country is a much different experience if you’re planning to move there. I know this firsthand. When I was just out of high school and sensing the Lord calling me to Romania, I knew it wouldn’t be enough for me to learn about Romanian culture and history from a documentary on television or from a best-selling novel with a Romanian hero. No, I needed something more. Before moving to Romania, I bought language and culture books that helped me understand what I would encounter. I needed to hear from people who knew both my culture and the Romanian culture well and could guide me to the important things to know. In the months before I bought a one-way ticket to Eastern Europe, I wore out my language and culture books in preparation for the adventure. If we believe what God says about His Word, that’s how we should approach the Bible. As Christians, we are called to live in obedience to God. In His Word we find the great story of our world and instruction on how to live. As Christians, we are the foreigners—strangers and exiles—in a world that is often hostile to biblical truth. How should we live? How should we interact with our neighbors, pursue our careers, and love our family? How should we grieve? Where do we find hope? The Bible doesn’t answer these questions from a merely academic

perspective. It tells us the story of God and His people. It unveils the plan of redemption through the blood of Jesus Christ. It tells us what the future holds. The Bible is God’s Word to us. But if we are to live under the authority of God’s Word, we need to understand what God’s Word is saying. For this reason, we need a translation we can rely on, one that faithfully reflects the original manuscripts and clearly communicates with readers today. Translation errors can have profound consequences. Consider the difference between “do penance” and “repent.” When John Wycliffe first translated the Bible into English, he started with the Latin Vulgate, the translation of

18 • Facts & Trends

the Catholic Church at the time. That meant using “do penance” to talk about the Christian response to our sin. According to this understanding, Jesus preached that the kingdom of God had drawn near, and the response was to perform acts of penance. What Wycliffe didn’t know at the time was the Latin Vulgate was riddled with problems. When Renaissance scholars like Erasmus later studied the Latin Vulgate in comparison with original manuscripts, they found it had considerable departures from the original manuscripts. This prompted Erasmus to publish a Greek New Testament based on the original manuscripts. As that translation reached ReformSUMMER 2017


ers like Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin, it became the source for new translations into the common languages of the time. Luther hoped his German translation would enable people to “seize and taste the clear, pure Word of God itself and hold onto it.” That’s exactly what happened. As the Reformation spread, William Tyndale began another English translation of the Bible, this time drawing on the more accurate Greek texts. “Do penance” was more accurately rendered “repent,” which is about a heart change away from sin and toward God, not the accumulation of good deeds. This is just one translation choice, but consider the impact it makes when we’re basing our lives on God’s Word! Within those words, we move from works to a heart attitude. Within those words, we see grace flourishing through the forgiveness of the cross. A reliable translation of the Bible is vitally important for Christian growth. In order to base our lives on God’s Word, we need to be able to clearly understand what God is saying through it, without losing the power of the original words. Unfortunately, some Christians fall easily into dichotomies regarding translation theory. Some say the translation should be so close to the original that it doesn’t matter if people can read and understand it. Meanwhile, others say readability should be the most important feature, even if the translation strays from the form and words of the original. But why choose between the two? If reading the Bible were simply an FACTSANDTRENDS.NET/BIBLEREADING

academic exercise, then we could select “scholarship” as our priority. If it were simply an advertising tool, we might choose “exciting” or “modern-sounding” as our top goal. But we read the Bible to know God, to be made more like Him, and to share His good news with others. And that means we need to know what He’s saying. That requires a translation we can clearly understand, but one that clearly reflects the original manuscripts. It should be reliable for both the pastor in the pulpit and the person in the pew. There are plenty of good translations on the market, but the balanced approach of the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) is one reason I love it. As the Bible publisher for LifeWay, I am proud to represent a translation that we hope will serve the global church, for the salvation of the world. As a pastor who preaches from this translation every week, I am thankful for a translation that is the optimal blend of accuracy and readability. I can trust it during study and sermon preparation, and I can give it to people in my church and trust they can read and understand it for themselves. Regardless of what Bible translation you prefer, may you wear it out reading, studying, and applying it, trusting that the faithful and true Word of God still changes lives and still empowers God’s people to fulfill their mission!

We need a translation we can rely on, one that faithfully reflects the original manuscripts and clearly communicates with readers today.

TREVIN WAX (@TrevinWax) is LifeWay’s Bible and Reference publisher and pastor of Third Baptist Church in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

Facts & Trends • 19

How do you translate the world’s most popular book? Our conversation with David Allen, Tom Schreiner, and Trevin Wax

David Allen, dean and professor of preaching at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary


Tom Schreiner, professor of New Testament interpretation at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Trevin Wax, Bible and Reference publisher at LifeWay Christian Resources

The Christian Standard Bible (CSB) is a revision of the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB), first published in 2004. It has been recently updated to reflect advances in biblical scholarship and to meet the needs of churches around the world. Facts & Trends talked to David Allen and Tom Schreiner, who co-chaired the translation oversight committee, as well as Trevin Wax, LifeWay’s Bible and Reference publisher, about the revision and what sets the CSB apart from other translations.

What was the goal in updating the HCSB? TREVIN WAX: To put it simply, we want more people reading the Bible. Research shows that while people may own a Bible, they aren’t necessarily reading it. The top reason people give for not reading the Bible is not having enough time. A close second is frustration with understanding the Bible. While we can’t add more hours to the day, we can offer a Bible translation that’s easy to understand. The CSB offers the high level of accuracy people 20 • Facts & Trends



expect from their Bible translation as well as the easy-to-read, modern English they desire. We hope the CSB will inspire people to read the Bible, as well as to live out what it says and share it with others.

What is the translation philosophy of the CSB? And how does it differ from other translations? TOM SCHREINER: Bible translations fit into a couple of categories. A formal equivalence translation takes a wordfor-word approach—for each word in

the original text, the translators have chosen an equivalent English word. The King James Version would fit into this category. Other translations would fit into the dynamic equivalence—or thought-for-thought—category. Rather than translating word for word from the original text, translators strive to stay close to the literal meaning of the text while also trying to capture the thoughts of the original authors in a way that’s meaningful to a modern audience. The NIV and NLT would be considered dynamic equivalence translations. The CSB was created using optimal

equivalence, a translation philosophy (see chart below) that balances linguistic precision to the original languages and readability in contemporary English. In the many places throughout Scripture where a word-for-word rendering is clearly understandable, a more literal, word-for-word translation is used in the CSB. When a wordfor-word rendering might obscure the meaning for a modern audience, a thought-for-thought translation is used. This process assures that both the words and thoughts contained in the original text are conveyed as accurately


Based on a quantitative linguistic comparison of Bible translations using computerized statistical analysis, developed by Dr. Andi Wu of the Global Bible Initiative.


Facts & Trends • 21

as possible for today’s readers. The CSB provides a highly accurate text for sermon preparation and serious study, translated from the biblical languages by scholars who love God’s Word. Yet it doesn’t compromise readability or clarity for readers who are less familiar with traditional (and sometimes difficult) vocabulary retained in some translations.

How is the CSB unique to other translations? How does it compare to others? TOM SCHREINER: Research shows the CSB provides the best balance of linguistic precision to original languages and readability in contemporary English. Of course, individual passages vary, but here is an example of how the CSB compares to the New International Version (NIV), the English Standard Version (ESV), the New Living Translation (NLT), and the Common English Bible (CEB). In Revelation 3:20, “See!” is an exclamation that calls attention to a situation. Since the second sentence is introduced with “anyone,” the word “him” that follows is clearly inclusive, and it is not necessary to use “they” or “you.” CSB: See! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. NIV: Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. ESV: Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. 22 • Facts & Trends

NLT: Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. CEB: Look! I’m standing at the door and knocking. If any hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to be with them, and will have dinner with them, and they will have dinner with me.

Why was it important that the CSB be both highly literal to the original languages and highly readable? DAVID ALLEN: The Bible is God’s revelation to humanity. But the Bible wasn’t written in English, so translation is necessary to bring God’s Word from the ancient languages (Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic) into today’s world. As Bible translators, we seek to give English readers a text that clearly communicates both the form and the meaning of the original languages as faithfully as possible. But if we deliver a highly literal text that doesn’t communicate to today’s reader, we’ve done only half of our job. A good translation must also be clearly understood—this is true of any book or document translated from one language to another, of course, but it must be especially true of a translation of God’s Word!

What makes the Christian Standard Bible good for Bible study or for use as a preaching text? TOM SCHREINER: The CSB is a highly accurate preaching text, translated from the best available Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic source texts into English by biblical scholars who affirm the authority of Scripture as the inerrant Word of SUMMER 2017


If we deliver a highly literal text that doesn’t communicate to today’s reader, we’ve done only half of our job.” —David Allen, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

God; its source texts are the standard used by scholars and seminaries today. The text is not only highly accurate but also remarkably clear; the CSB has been proven to optimize both accuracy and readability, making it accessible for your church members to also read on their own and to share with others.

How does a pastor choose a translation and what does a pastor wrestle with in making that decision? DAVID ALLEN: Many pastors use a highly literal translation for sermon preparation, in addition to work they may do in the original languages. But solid biblical teaching must be accompanied by regular Bible reading, which is the number one contributor to spiritual growth. Research shows that many Bible readers feel frustrated because the Bible is often difficult to understand. So pastors may recommend a more readable translation to their church members for personal reading and study, for children and students,

and for those who are new readers of the Bible. We took this to heart as we worked on the Christian Standard Bible. Our aim is for the CSB to be faithful to the original text yet easy to read and understand, encouraging readers to spend more time in Scripture.

Is there value in the pastor and congregation using the same translation? DAVID ALLEN: Many good translations of the Bible are available, and the use of two or three can enrich your personal study. Yet when a pastor is preaching from the same Bible translation that church members are reading, studying, and memorizing personally, in small groups, and with their families, the focus can be on deeper understanding and application of the truths of the Bible, without the distractions of differing word order and word choices. Because the Christian Standard Bible provides a text that’s highly literal and highly readable, it’s an ideal choice for both pastor and congregation.


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Discipling in an age of biblical illiteracy WHAT CAN YOU DO TO GET PEOPLE TO DUST OFF THEIR BIBLES? By Ken Braddy


America has a literacy problem. Almost 14 percent of the adult population cannot read. But illiteracy isn’t just a problem in secular society. A far worse kind of illiteracy affects the church: Biblical illiteracy. Only 20 percent of Americans say they’ve read the entire Bible at least once. And only 22 percent say they systematically read through a section of the Bible a little each day. A third of Americans never read the Bible on their own.

24 • Facts & Trends


This lack of Bible reading certainly has led to a lack of biblical doctrine. A recent LifeWay Research survey examines how Americans view Christian theology: • Fewer than half (47 percent) say the Bible is 100 percent accurate in all it teaches. • Half (51 percent) say the Bible was written for each person to interpret as he or she chooses. • Three-quarters (74 percent) disagree with the idea that even the smallest sin deserves eternal damnation. • Three-quarters (77 percent) say people must contribute their own effort for personal salvation. • Half (52 percent) say good deeds help them earn a spot in heaven. And 45 percent believe there are many ways to get there. If people who hold these views walk into your church and begin participating in your Bible study groups, are you confident they will receive the tools and information needed to correct these erroneous beliefs?

3 WAYS TO IMPROVE BIBLICAL LITERACY IN YOUR CHURCH Get into God’s Word daily. In Brad Waggoner’s The Shape of Faith to Come, a survey of 2,500 Protestants revealed predictors of year-over-year spiritual growth. The number one predictor: regularly reading the Bible. Waggoner writes, “Our people need daily exposure to the life-transforming power of God through His revealed Word.” Study and apply God’s Word together. Disciples are people who are becoming more and more like Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit. Disciples grow as they are near other disciples. “Living in community with other believers, wrestling through real issues, embracing the gospel together,

reminding one another of our identity in Christ … is God’s transformative platform,” write Ed Stetzer and Eric Geiger inTransformational Groups. According to a LifeWay Research study on the impact of groups on discipleship, Christians who regularly attend a small group of some type have greater discipleship practices than those who don’t attend a group. Help people become familiar with all of God’s Word. I teach a group of empty-nest adults. These men and women, who are in their early 50s, often say, “I didn’t know that was in the Bible!” during or after one of our Bible study sessions. Somehow they have missed out on a balanced approach to studying Scripture. Partial knowledge can lead to partial understanding. Partial understanding can lead to partial obedience.

A NEW DISCIPLESHIP TOOL FOR THE CHURCH How will your church address biblical illiteracy? Why not provide each adult member and guest a personal discipleship tool that gives them a compelling way to explore God’s Word daily, creates a better group Bible study experience, and has a wise plan for discipleship? “The Daily Discipleship Guide,” a new resource in the Explore the Bible family, is available this fall. It’s designed to help churches increase biblical literacy. Here are three ways “The Daily Discipleship Guide” will help your church dig deeper into God’s Word. Daily – The tool encourages people to explore the text more fully in the days following their group’s Bible study. Five daily readings help people to more fully understand, explore, and apply the text, even if they don’t attend the group Bible study.


Robby Gallaty’s book Growing Up relates how Willow Creek pastor Bill Hybels discovered a shortcoming in his church’s plan for making disciples. “What we should have done when people crossed the line of faith and became Christians, we should have started telling people and teaching people that they have to take responsibility to become ‘self-feeders,’” Hybels acknowledged. “We should have … taught people how to read their Bible between services.” Discipleship – “The Daily Discipleship Guide” supports groups of disciples as they explore the Bible together. It summarizes a section of Scripture, explains the context, and has compelling questions a group leader uses to guide the group’s Bible study. People are discipled by a well-equipped leader, and they learn and grow from the comments and insights of their peers. Guide – The heart of Explore the Bible is for groups and individuals to be guided through a nine-year exploration of all 66 books of the Bible. The strength of this approach to studying Scripture is that balance is assured, and every genre of Scripture is studied. Don’t assume the people in your church are reading and understanding the Bible. Provide them with the tool they need so they can understand the Scripture and obey all that Christ commanded. To learn more, go to LifeWay.com/ exploredaily. KEN BRADDY is the manager for LifeWay’s adult ongoing Bible studies and teaches a group of empty-nest adults at his church in Tennessee. He blogs regularly about group ministry at kenbraddy.com.

Facts & Trends • 25



unday mornings might be one of the quietest times of the week at Ravenswood Covenant Church on Chicago’s north side.

 he church has a thriving Sunday school and vibrant worship service that draws T about 100 people most weeks. Once church services are over, however, the ministry at Ravenswood is just getting started. Like many churches, Ravenswood puts its building to work all week long, helping the congregation live out what’s preached on Sundays. Churches bring great value—spiritual, as well as social and economic—to their communities with the ministries and services they provide. A study by Partners for Sacred Places and the University of Pennsylvania found the average urban church contributes $1.7 million in value to its community each year. Whether through after-school programs, food pantries, or counseling services, local churches are community hubs providing a variety of resources and meeting multiple needs. Hosting programs and events for the community can even draw unchurched neighbors to your facility who otherwise would never attend. A LifeWay Research study found only a third of unchurched Americans would be interested in visiting a worship service. However, they are likely to attend a community event. About two-thirds (62 percent) would attend a church meeting about neighborhood safety. Half would take part in a community service event (51 percent), concert (45 percent), sports or exercise program (46 percent), or neighborhood get-together (45 percent) at a church. Here are four churches that are using their facilities to serve and bless their communities seven days a week.

26 • Facts & Trends


Iron Ridge Church: Movies, pizza, and the gospel


zas and showing movies. The church also formed a board to run the business. The board decided to focus on showing family-friendly films, a needed niche in the area, where many parents commute to nearby Decorah, a college town, for work. Parents might want to take their kids to a movie, but they don’t want to get back in the car for another long On Sundays, the congregation worshipped in the 300-seat drive, he says. Main Feature Theater on Main Street Running the business fit Mincks’ in downtown Waukon. The rest of the personality. He’d run several businesses week, the church showed family-friendbefore becoming a pastor and loved the ly movies and sold a boatload of pizza. challenge of a new enterprise. His son Running a pizza parlor and movie had worked in food service, so he was theater has been a boon to the church’s able to apply those skills to pizza making ministry, says pastor Marlan Mincks, as well. who planted Iron Ridge about 13 years Mincks has come to see the business as ago. a benefit to the church. It gets people in The congregation ran into trouble the door—and if they come for a movie with the local zoning board when it first and have a good time, they might be bought the theater and tried to convert open to coming to church. it into a church. Local officials opposed So far, things have gone well. The the move, fearing the loss of another church now averages about 600 people downtown business. So they denied the Concession stand at Iron Ridge Church for worship, no small feat in a town of church a permit. fewer than 4,000. That left Mincks and the congregation with two choices: Since buying the building, the church has invested more they could file suit and fight the town in court. Or they than $80,000 in renovations, including a new projection could run the business and offer something of value to the system. Local officials now see the church as an asset to the community. community. “We chose to be good neighbors rather than going to The church has outgrown the movie theater and recently court,” he says. “We could have forced their hand, but moved to a new facility, but it has no plans to give up the instead we asked, ‘How can we make this work?’” theater and pizza place, which are still going strong. After signing papers on the building, Mincks and other “We still make the best pizza in town,” says Mincks. church leaders went through a crash course in making piz-

or the past decade, Iron Ridge Church in Waukon, Iowa, population 3,869, has had one of the most unusual church facilities in the country.


Facts & Trends • 27

Mosaic Church: Funding and expanding its mission


n 2012, Mosaic Church in Little Rock, Arkansas, bought a shuttered Kmart on about 10 acres in one of the poorest areas of the city. The building was too big for the church—it’s about 100,000 square feet, and the church needed only 35,000. And it was costly—it took the church about six years to scrape up the $500,000 down payment for the property. Still, Mosiac pastor Mark DeYmaz believed the building could be brought back to life as an asset for both the church and the community. Besides, the church had few other options. It had been outbid for all the other properties it tried to buy. “It’s that old saying—desperation leads to innovation,” says DeYmaz.

The Orchard is Little Rock’s largest food pantry.

The mobile food pantry allows shoppers to get healthy, fresh food.

28 • Facts & Trends


As soon as the church bought the property, DeYmaz went looking for partners. The first was 10 Fitness, a chain of local health clubs known for $10-a-month memberships. The company needed a place to rent in urban Little Rock and thought Mosaic’s building might be a good fit. The health club ended up renting half the building, which helps pay the church’s mortgage. Another business, which sells scratched and dented new appliances, rents out the building’s loading dock. Plus, 10 Fitness paid for a number of improvements to the building, boosting its value. As a result, Mosaic was able to borrow the money it needed to renovate the other half of the building. Today that side of the building is home to the church and to Vine and Village, a church-run nonprofit that hosts a number of programs throughout the week. Those include a tutoring program, a MOPS group for teen moms, a chess club, a legal clinic for immigrants, a mobile farmers’ market, and the Orchard, the city’s largest food pantry. On Tuesdays, the church’s main gathering area is transformed into a community fair. Neighbors in need can pick up fresh produce and groceries, visit a medical clinic run by a local hospital, find out about job opportunities, and buy clothes from Goodwill. “We serve about 55 percent of the people in this zip code at the Orchard,” says DeYmaz. “They depend on us for three or four days of meals a month.” The church couldn’t afford all of its ministries if it relied on tithes and offerings alone, says DeYmaz. Mosaic isn’t in a wealthy community. Many church members are struggling to get by. So the church got creative in how it funds ministry. “We have a big vision but with limited funds,” says DeYmaz, who outlines the church’s approach to ministry in Disruption: Repurposing the Church to Redeem the Community, a new book due out this spring. “That forces you to think outside the box.” Putting a formerly abandoned building to work fits the Christian message as well, he says. Mosiac’s building— which was once shuttered—is now used to meet people’s spiritual and physical needs. By providing a home for local businesses, the church also helps create jobs and improve the local economy. The new building has become a physical representation of the new life offered in God’s kingdom. That’s allowed the church to demonstrate the “redemptive power of the resurrection in tangible, credible ways and beyond words,” DeYmaz writes in Disruption. FACTSANDTRENDS.NET

FIVE TIPS FOR CHURCH BUILDING USE 1. Mission comes first. Use the building to expand your church’s ministry and outreach. If a ministry goal is being accomplished and you are not just trying to make money, you can probably avoid any negative consequences. 2. Money is helpful but comes with complications. Renting out space can help enhance a church’s budget and ministry. But it also comes with added expenses—more maintenance, scheduling complications, and other hassles. Be prepared for hard work. 3. Be aware of public accommodation laws. Renting space to secular groups could make the church a place of public accommodation that has to be open to all groups, even those whose beliefs conflict with the church’s. 4. Explain the church’s broader mission. Non-religious people tend to think churches focus mostly on religious activities, like worship, prayer meetings, and Bible studies. Be sure the broader mission—having a positive impact on the community, serving those in need, etc.—is part of the church’s founding documents and description of mission. 5. Talk to a tax expert. Some outside income for a church may be subject to “unrelated business income” tax. There are some exceptions: income from a thrift store, investments, and most rental income. Be sure to talk to a tax expert and pay the taxes that are due. Facts & Trends • 29

Ravenswood Covenant Church: Meeting community needs


n Monday mornings, the church’s Sunday school classrooms are filled with sounds of toddlers at play at the Ravenswood Community Child Care Center, a nonprofit the church founded more than a decade ago to assist teen moms in the community. Young Life meets at the church on Monday nights. On Tuesday and Friday nights, the church’s gym is packed with students at Serve City, a Christian ministry that combines athletics and discipleship. During the spring and summer, a farmers’ market draws as many as 400 or 500 local residents to the church parking lot, where they can buy fresh produce and visit booths run by local residents. Thursday nights, pastor Phil Staurseth, a former camp director, whips up a tasty meal for about 70 people. Among them: members of an evening Bible study and 30 students from Youth Collision—a joint youth ministry of six nearby churches. The church gym is also open for local families to bring their kids for a play date. During the summer things are even busier, with about 50 grade-school students involved in a faith-based education summer camp called “Kids’ College.” Scheduling events at church can be a headache at times, says Staurseth, with so many activities. But the ministry is worth the hassle, he says. “What we don’t want to be is a church that meets on a Sunday morning and then the building sits empty the rest of the week,” says Staurseth. The congregation has come to value its building as an asset for ministry, says Staurseth. “It gives space to live out the gospel—to care for our neighbors and practice the things we talk about on Sunday mornings,” he says. Regina Thompson, an architect with the faith-based design firm Visioneering Studios, says she encourages churches to see their building as a tool for ministry. That’s true for established churches and for congregations building or buying a new facility. When working with congregations on a new building, Thompson focuses on ministry—rather than building design. She and her colleagues meet with church leaders to learn about their vision for ministry and the community the church serves. Those conversations help shape the kind of buildings Thompson and her colleagues design.

Ravenswood farmers’ market

“The whole ministry side of the church is just as important as the facility side for us,” she says. One key for getting the most out of your building: find strategic partners. Ravenswood Covenant, for example, is a smaller, urban congregation and the community has many needs. The church can’t minister to all those needs but can focus on a few ministries, like the child care center. Along with getting high-quality child care that allows them to stay in school, the teen moms in the program are also part of a discipleship and mentoring group, led by a church staff member. The farmers’ market is also a priority for the church. By bringing people to the church, it serves as an outreach to the neighborhood. The market is also a gift to the community. “We are asking, ‘What can we do for our community and ask for nothing in return?’” says Staurseth. “That led to the idea of the farmers’ market.” Leaders of the local chamber of commerce have embraced the market and have partnered with the church. So have local businesses. Those relationships have allowed Staurseth to minister to folks who might never show up on Sunday. Among them is a local leader whose young daughter died about a year and a half ago. While working together, Staurseth has been able to be a pastor to her, even though this leader is not part of his congregation. “These partnerships allow me to be a pastor to the neighborhood,” he said. Working with partners such as Young Life, Collision, Serve City, and other nonprofits allows the church to expand its reach to the community despite its small size. “That’s the benefit of partnering with all these other organizations,” Staurseth says. “We don’t feel like we have to do it all.”

30 • Facts & Trends


How to avoid building-related headaches


aking the most of your building is a great move for churches, says Rob Hall, vice president of Chicago-based National Covenant Properties. He’s spent 20 years helping churches find and acquire new facilities and loves to see a congregation thriving in its new home. Still, he warns churches to be careful when they expand their programs beyond typical church activities such as worship services, youth groups, and Bible studies. When deciding whether to rent to or partner with an outside group, churches should ask, “Does this fit our mission?” says Hall.

Ravenswood’s market provides opportunity for neighborhood kids to play. FACTSANDTRENDS.NET

Hall suggests churches claim a broad charitable mission when they file incorporation papers. “When I incorporate churches, I include a mission statement that includes religious, social, charitable, and educational purposes,” he says. Churches that have already incorporated with a narrower mission can easily go back and amend it. Having that kind of broad mission gives a church leeway. If a church is incorporated solely for religious purposes, it could lose part or all of its property tax exemption by partnering with outside groups or having non-religious activities. “The issue becomes, ‘Are we using the facility for our exempt purposes?’” Hall says. “You need to prove that your motivation is to advance your charitable purpose.” If churches decide to expand their building use beyond typical ministry—by adding a fitness center, bookstore, or major outside rental, for example—Hall suggests they check ahead of time with the local government authority that determines property taxes. Doing this can help them avoid any unexpected headaches. A church can have outside business income from secular rentals or other building use, says Hall. But this means the church may have to pay some taxes on that income or the property used for that rental. Hall also recommends churches check with a lawyer before partnering with other organizations. The church’s governing board should approve any partnerships. And churches should keep minutes of meetings where those decisions are made. Along with legal concerns, there are practical matters with church building use. More events in the church mean more cleaning and maintenance costs. “It’s hard to share your building,” he says. “If you are motivated by ministry, it’s easier to put up with the hassles when an outside group makes a mess or there is a scheduling headache.” Hall also suggests churches draft a standard partnership agreement. The agreement should include a statement of shared mission and clearly outline expectations and any details about payment for use of facilities. Above all, he says, “Make sure you’re using the building for a ministry objective.” Bob Smietana is senior writer for Facts & Trends. Facts & Trends • 31

First Baptist Houston: Reaching the unchurched


o matter what kinds of programs your church runs during the week, be sure to keep the focus on ministry, says Dave Bundrick, minister of fitness and recreation at First Baptist Church in Houston.

Among the programs Bundrick oversees is a 1,200-member fitness center that the church has run since the 1980s. At first, the center mostly ran activities for church members, he says. Today, the center focuses more on outreach. “We help the church accomplish its mission of being a relevant, biblical community,” he says. “Every time someone steps foot in our facility for one of our programs, that is an opportunity for ministry.” Exercise classes at First Baptist start with prayer, and teams in the church’s sports leagues often share devotions together. The center also organizes a bowling league for older members and volleyball leagues for its young adult small groups, giving those groups a chance to fellowship together. Teams are encouraged to invite non-church members to join in. Having a great facility is a blessing, says Bundrick. But having good staff matters just as much. That’s something churches forget when they start recreation ministries or other programs. “Sometimes churches put millions into a facility but don’t put much effort or thought into who they hired to run the program or ministry,” he says. When he talks to his staff, Bundrick reminds them of the need to run quality programs. But he also reminds them that making people feel welcome matters as well. Sometimes people will come to a recreation program before ever coming to church. If they have a good experience, then they might be open to coming to a service. A study of unchurched Americans found almost half (46 percent) would be “likely” or “extremely likely” to attend a recreation program at a church if invited by someone they knew. Fewer (35 percent) are open to coming to a worship service. “Your first time to a church isn’t necessarily a worship service or Bible study,” says Bundrick. “That can be intimidating for a lot of folks. We create safe places for people to start to come to church.” Fitness and recreation center at Houston’s First Baptist

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By AARon Wilson



For more than 16 years, I’ve served in some capacity as an employee of LifeWay Christian Stores. Because of this, I regularly engage with people who are dabbling with the idea of church. These bookstore visitors range from quilting-bee grandmothers to rough-and-tumble bikers. While each guest may look different on the outside, I find they often ask similar questions. These questions reveal four types of people who may be future guests at your church.

1. The “How-To” Fixers These individuals sense something in their life is broken. Maybe it’s a marriage on the rocks, kids living in rebellion, or credit-card debt that’s breathing down their neck. Regardless of the need, these people are often attracted to the church (or a Christian retailer) in search of a quick how-to fix for their problem. As Christians, we know everyone’s greatest need is the righteousness of God FACTSANDTRENDS.NET

Facts & Trends • 33

and the forgiveness of sins offered through Jesus’ gospel. We extend empathy toward the pressing needs that drive guests to our doors. At the same time, we must explain how only Christ can satisfy one’s deepest longings. We serve these guests by being honest about our own sinfulness. We can do this through public and regular confession of sin, which is especially effective in an intimate small group setting. Once a church sets the backdrop of humility, the light of the gospel can shine on those who are driven to God’s people by a spirit of brokenness. 2. The Spectacle Seekers Spectacle seekers peek at the church hungry for a show. These folks might walk into a Christian establishment because they heard of a new “Bible code” for predicting end-time events. Others might sample a Christian podcast or website because they want to learn more about the novel ways millennials are “doing church” nowadays. Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites have trained people to seek and share the new and buzzworthy tidbits of culture. Spectacle seekers resemble the Athenians of Acts 17:21 who “would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.” As biblically informed believers, we

DIG DEEPER •C  orner Conversations by Randy Newman

Available at LifeWay Stores

shouldn’t feel the need to criticize or cater to this trend. Instead, we should continually direct guests’ interest to the main attraction: Christ and His work on the cross. While Paul modeled the act of becoming all things to all people (1 Corinthians 9:22), we must be careful not to repackage the gospel to make it more newsworthy by 21st-century standards. Rather, Christians can command interest by consistently proclaiming the epic tale of the ageold gospel. 3. Those in Pain I regularly encounter guests at LifeWay stores who gravitate toward God’s people because they’re experiencing a season of grief or suffering. Grief can serve as a catalyst for an interest in God, which is why Ecclesiastes 7:2 says it’s better to be at a funeral than a party. Although the world offers many different kinds of Band-Aids for the hurting, only through Christ can we offer a true remedy for the ultimate source of pain. When church guests open up about their problems, we should be quick to explain the grand narrative of the Bible: the good creation, the fall, Christ’s redemption, and His promised future restoration of all things. Since sin is the cause of the curse, all pain points to the fact that things aren’t as they should be. When guests hear this raw truth spoken, they’re more willing to trade in their “too-blessed-to-be-stressed” façade for a Savior who took all evil upon Himself and promises perfect redemption for this broken world. 4. The Frustrated Legalists Finally, we have the frustrated legalists—folks hovering around the church because they feel they’re supposed to be there. These people

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recognize the need for spiritual disciplines but lack the Christ-fueled joy to pursue them regularly. These individuals use phrases like, “It’s a struggle,” “I lack a passion,” or “I’m inconsistent.” My experience in the bookstores tells me frustrated legalists usually want a magic pill that will change all this for the low, low cost of just $19.99. Of course, when we engage a frustrated legalist, we don’t need to push a new book, a trendy blog post, or an evangelistic crusade. The legalists simply need a better understanding of the gospel. We should get honest about how all Christians struggle with spiritual disciplines and teach them that Christ bore our burden to be perfect. Legalists want tips and cheats. Let’s give them enabling grace instead. Living on mission outside the bookstore These four categories may not be comprehensive, but they do summarize the initial focus of many people who drop by a Christian bookstore curious about God. And more than likely, they are the same people who are visiting your church. We can prepare to serve such people by training ourselves to recognize the common threads the Holy Spirit uses to draw a lost world to His church. While most Christians aren’t in the practice of wearing name tags like bookstore employees, all believers sport the name of Christ when they proclaim the gospel. May this identification spur us to engage inquisitive guests and provide them with lasting joy that comes from following the Savior. AARON WILSON is associate editor of Facts & Trends.



Practical ministry ideas for your church

The role of the pastor when sharing the gospel is meant for every believer By Joel southerland



oo often we settle for the status quo. We get comfortable with the way things have always been. But God challenges us to push past the expected—to reach wider, love deeper, go farther. When it comes to missions, the status quo for many Christians has been to invite people to church and let the pastor tell them about Jesus. Pastors are called to preach the gospel. They are called to invite people into a relationship with Jesus Christ from the pulpit every week and from the coffee shop every morning. Regardless of the context, pastors should open the Word, challenge, and extol. But every church member is called to share the gospel as well. From high school students to retirees, from soccer coaches to business executives, every believer has a part in the greatest story ever told. A redefinition of missions for churchgoers might mean they voice their convictions at work, start a gospel conversation at lunch, or invite their daughter’s piano teacher over for dinner. But how do they get there? And what does this mean for the pastor? Church members need an equipper, a motivator, a leader. Every great team has vision and knows the end goal. Pastors must redefine ordinary and set the highest calling before their congregations. The message remains the same, but the approach must become more intentional. Pastors must challenge those in their church to desire that every person in their lives experiences the same love and grace they have come to know. Teach them how to integrate gospel truths into everyday conversations. Model a lifestyle that weaves hospitality, grace, and spiritual truths into the rhythms of everyday life.

1. Intentional training Research done by the North American Mission Board in 2014 shows more than 80 percent of the top baptizing churches in North America train their members at least once a year in how to share their faith. The correlation between baptism numbers and proactive evangelistic training is simply not debatable. We must not tell people to share their faith; we must instruct (and show) them how to do so. 2. Two-purpose invitation There’s a reason taglines and advertising stick in our heads: Repetition works. Clearly laying out the gospel each week in your sermons provides an invitation for those in attendance. But it also gives language to the believers in your congregation to share on their own during the week. 3. Celebrate sharing Walk alongside people as they develop relationships and have gospel conversations. Celebrate every bold step of them sharing their faith just as you would a new believer coming to faith. This not only creates excitement


and shows growth but also allows the entire community to join in prayer and celebrate when fruit develops. As pastors call people to join God in His global mission, they must be equipped. They must know the answer for the hope they have and be ready and able to share it when asked. Loving their neighbors, investing in their communities, and forgiving their coworkers are countercultural activities that should, and will, draw questions. Church leaders must not only ask people to live on mission but also ready them and resource them to respond when asked why they live as they do. JOEL SOUTHERLAND is evangelism executive director of the North American Mission Board.

DIG DEEPER Pastors and church staff are invited to join other church leaders, business leaders, families, and students at the Send Conference 2017 in Orlando, Florida, July 25-26. Learn the many ways to live on mission as well as how to provide tangible resources to every person in your church to take the next missional step. Learn more at SendConference.com. Facts & Trends • 35

Stronger together By Jason W. Bland

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“You have to get to her, pastor!” Frantic members of my church begged for help as floodwaters rose around their homes and families. In the midst of a “thousand-year flood,” the 911 operators had told them to stop calling.


Debris from gutted homes lines the streets of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in this photo from August 25, 2016.

The relentless rising of waters throughout southeastern Louisiana in August 2016 left more than half a million people homeless. With some of our church members in shelters, some missing, and some on the roofs of their homes for more than a day awaiting rescue, I’ve never felt more helpless. But God used this circumstance to remind me, my church, and our community that we are stronger together. Since the flood, Florida Boulevard Baptist Church (FBBC) and our partner church, United Believers Baptist Church, have distributed supplies, hosted mission teams, provided food and shelter, and served as command base for disaster relief teams from Florida, Oklahoma, Colorado, Utah/Nebraska, New Mexico, the North American Mission Board (NAMB), and more. In the process, I’ve learned many lessons I wish I’d had in my ministry toolkit prior to August. Here are 10 lessons I needed most urgently, shared in the hope they can help other churches prepare for ministry in the midst of disaster. 1. Remember you are not alone. When calls for help begin flooding in, don’t feel defeated if you cannot come to the callers’ direct aid. Listen to their need, pray for them immediately, and work with them to find solutions. You don’t need to have the answer—as a follower of Christ, you know the One with all the answers. Daniel did not have Nebuchadnezzar’s answer, but God did, and when Daniel


Facts & Trends • 37


Above: Southern Baptist Disaster Relief chaplain Roy Christy, a member of Northern Hills Baptist Church in Holt, Missouri, hugs Baton Rouge, Louisiana, homeowner Fay McDowell. McDowell is one of tens of thousands of Louisiana residents whose homes were damaged by floods in August 2016. Right: Disaster Relief volunteers provide food to flood victims in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

prayed it was given to him. God is with you in the disaster. Once I remembered I was not alone, I was of much more help to others. 2. Have a multi-layered communication plan. From my first Sunday at FBBC I began running a slide at the end of the service with my cell phone number. Sometimes I have regretted that, but not during the flood or its aftermath. I carry a bag with my iPad, quick charger, and solar charger so I’m prepared to use my phone and tablet heavily without power. We lost power for a period and I needed both devices for nearly 48 hours continuously. Some of my pastor friends refuse to use Facebook, and I understand their perspective. However, when many in my congregation lost use of their cell phones because AT&T had gone underwater, they still had Facebook Messenger. We coordinated two water rescues of senior adults by using Messenger. 38 • Facts & Trends

In a major disaster, you need teamwork. Connect with relief agencies and let them know your condition and willingness to help. Within 24 hours of the flood cutting us off, we had contacted our state convention’s disaster relief coordinator, American Red Cross, and Samaritan’s Purse. 3. Remain calm and preach patience. Help will come. Our Southern Baptist disaster relief (SBDR) teams are second to none and have responded to more than 1,000 sites just from FBBC over the past several months, but it didn’t all happen in a day. I had to learn that while the need is now, there will never be enough “now” help. Scores of Southern Baptist volunteers begin loading equipment into their vehicles the moment a disaster occurs. They will come, because they love to serve Christ by serving people, but it will take time. 4. Be visible. After a disaster, visibility is both wise and essential. My yellow hat and badge with the Southern SUMMER 2017

Baptist disaster relief logo may have saved my life when I drove through a neighborhood after the flood. Signs warning, “You loot—we shoot,” were everywhere, and 8-foot-high hedges of ruined belongings flanked the streets. When I got out of my truck, a wary woman with a gun approached me from across the street. I’m thankful I was easily identified as part of a volunteer organization that was there to help. We quickly obtained large magnets for all staff vehicles and got shirts printed for our workers to keep us safe. It also was a great way to share Christ with our community. 5. Be a good steward. In your church’s disaster plan, it’s a great idea to detail a process for expending relief funds that will be donated to the church. It’s also a good idea to plan for collecting funds and thanking donors. Think about how to handle the mountains of supplies headed your direction within a few weeks of the disaster. Although we spent months distributing supplies to more than 1,000 families in our community, I regret we didn’t have a better strategy to access, use, and deliver them. 6. Embrace teamwork. Form and resource a disaster relief team at your church, and be sure everyone you can possibly recruit attends regular training. I’ve served as pastor for many churches of different sizes, and I promise none is too small or too large to benefit from disaster relief training and ministry. As disaster relief volunteers have filled our facilities, we have been reminded daily what cooperation means. I discovered that as a Southern Baptist my team begins with my church, then expands to become part of a coordinated effort with our association and our state convention. I have seen churches choose to work independently, but the decision to work with others was one of the best decisions

I have seen churches choose to work independently, but the decision to work with others was one of the best decisions we made as a church.” Jason W. Bland, pastor of Florida Boulevard Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana we made as a church. Looking back on what has been and is still being accomplished, it’s clear God has been with us and we have been far stronger together. Most exciting are the 32 new believers who have come to Christ though disaster relief chaplain ministry in our community. 7. Be prepared as an organization. My sincere gratitude goes to the leaders before me who, in our governing documents, gave the pastor authority to make decisions in a crisis. This flexibility went a long way toward speeding our reactions and enhancing our response. Congregational meetings with a two-week announcement time would not have been feasible. Having a risk assessment of your church is another great advantage in being prepared for a swift response. Be sure you have an up-to-date assessment that people have read. 8. Trust your team. Disasters make problems in the church larger and strengths stronger. We shouldn’t need a disaster to remind us to care for relationships within our church family, but when a disaster occurs there is no substitute for a team that has mutual trust. Our best response has come when we have worked together. 9. Accept unusual circumstances and partnerships. Some partners are easy to work with and a relief to have with you. Others are a challenge, but both types serve the needs of the community. We have hosted the American Red Cross,


Facts & Trends • 39


Annie Pucciarelli, a member of First Baptist Church of Brandon, Florida, pulls nails while mudding out a home, September 4, 2016, in Greenwell Springs, Louisiana. Pucciarelli was among 450 students from six states who gathered in Baton Rouge and nearby communities to help survivors of the flood.

The Salvation Army, volunteers from Southern Baptist, Lutheran, and nondenominational churches, NAMB mobile command, university student groups, individuals, and a host of church groups that filled vans and trailers. Do not overplan. Supplies will come, but never when you are told they will or in the amounts you expect. Teams will come, but never at the time and in the strength they hoped to bring. They will go home while there is still great need, but they will come back. Refrain from letting the air out of their tires, no matter how much you want to keep them.

10. Take care of yourself because the disaster is only the beginning. No matter what you do, you will be second-guessed and criticized. In truth, I still weep over the areas I needed to do better. I thank God for members and mentors who have been a constant encouragement, a director of missions who has stood with us, and a convention that cares for and about us. The stress and circumstances of a disaster result in increased disease, depression, and death. As you minister to others, do not neglect the care of those who minister to you. Remember, we are stronger together. JASON W. BLAND is pastor of Florida Boulevard Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.



From our home, my family and I heard the news reports of road and bridge closures effectively cutting us off from our church and our church family. Frantic calls started— first requests for help moving and trucks, then cries of alarm when people found the roads were already too deep to drive out. I feared the church would be a total loss, like the neighborhoods surrounding it, but our main campus was preserved as an island. People began to arrive—church members, neighbors, people in boats. Some had grabbed bags of belongings before escaping their homes, but most came with only the dripping clothes they were wearing. Florida Boulevard Baptist Church was no stranger to disaster, and neither was I. The church served people through Hurricane Gustav in 2008 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005. And although I’d been senior pastor at FBBC for only a little over a year, during my first pastorate Hurricane Wilma destroyed my church in Lake Worth, Florida, in 2005. 40 • Facts & Trends


As I drove home with my wife from a concert on August 11, 2016, the amount of rainfall was already astonishing. It didn’t stop for the next two days, and by then we had received more than 32 inches.

Denham Springs, Louisiana, after flood

This time, however, was different. The historic flood directly and personally affected our aging congregation. More than 100 church families lost their homes. In Livingston Parish, just across the Amite River from our main campus, local news reported that 90 percent of homes were lost, including our satellite campus, which was drenched in more than 4 feet of water. At our main campus, a small team of leaders received and settled refugees in classrooms and offices. Kitchen supplies were sure to be insufficient to keep everyone fed, but God multiplied cans of fruit salad and baked beans, and we had plenty for all who came hungry. Slowly we found all of those missing. The waters receded, and the next phase of ministry began. —Jason Bland SUMMER 2017



By Mark Hearn

I grew up in a small town tucked away in the mountains of Pulaski, Virginia. This beautiful Appalachian upbringing provided great vistas and wonderful childhood memories. However, it did little to prepare me to be a ministry leader in an increasingly diverse context. After 35 years of pastoral ministry, I wonder if anything could have prepared me for what I encounter today. In early 2010, my wife, Glenda, and I moved from our predominantly monocultural neighborhood in the suburbs of Indianapolis to our new church, First Baptist, in Duluth, Georgia. This quaint Southern town outside Atlanta is diversifying at an astonishing rate. Longtime residents can recall when Duluth amounted to a single road with a single stoplight. But in the late ’80s and early ’90s, Duluth became a residential


Facts & Trends • 41

Above: Pastor Mark Hearn baptizes Hwajin Lee, who came to the church through English classes. PHOTO BY LEE WOODARD

DIG DEEPER Technicolor: Inspiring Your Church to Embrace Multicultural Ministry by Mark Hearn. Available at your local LifeWay Store or LifeWay.com.

42 • Facts & Trends

Above: John Hawkins leads an English class at the church. PHOTO PROVIDED BY FIRST BAPTIST DULUTH


hot spot in suburban Atlanta. Professional athletes, CEOs, and wealthy entrepreneurs built massive homes, and the standard of living soared. A colossal event in 1996 changed the trajectory of this community for the next generation: Atlanta hosted the Olympics. The nations came to our city. International leaders had a delightful first experience in the mild climate and robust economic atmosphere of Atlanta’s suburbs. As a result, people from a variety of nations began to populate Duluth in record numbers during the early 2000s. When I arrived in 2010, Duluth was on its way to becoming one of the most diverse cities in America. In our mayor’s “state of the city” address that year, I heard a startling statistic that has motivated me ever since. Mayor Nancy Harris illustrated the changing nature of our community with one statement: “There are 57 languages spoken daily at Duluth High School.” I wrote this down and challenged the mayor afterward. Surely she had misspoken! I didn’t think there were 57 languages in the entire world, much less at our local high school. I left that event pondering, If our church is going to be relevant in this community, we have to learn to carry the life-changing truth of the gospel to 57 different language groups. I spent the next six months forming a biblical strategy that I shared with the church in a Sunday morning message. Since that time, people from 41 different nations have become members of our church or partners in ministry. We now offer our services with live interpretation through headsets in Spanish, Korean, and Arabic (we hope to add Mandarin Chinese soon). We join with our community and celebrate international holidays, such as El Día de Los Tres Reyes

If First Baptist Church is going to be relevant in this community, we have to learn to carry the life-changing truth of the gospel to 57 different language groups.” Mark Hearn, senior pastor, First Baptist Church Duluth, Georgia Magos (Three Kings’ Day), a Spanish celebration, at Christmastime; East Asian New Year, for those who observe the lunar calendar; and India’s Independence Day. Our church is making arrangements to be one of two American celebrations of the release of a new African study Bible written by Africans for Africans to be distributed throughout the continent and made available for African-born people residing in other parts of the world. The changes at our church all began with the establishment of rich relationships that provided the impetus to show how much we care for one another. My friend and mentor Mark DeYmaz explains this as the difference between being “assimilating” and being “accommodating.” Most churches do a good job at assimilation. Many churches have a staff position dedicated to assimilation. Assimilating churches do their best to provide all the necessary information for you to become one of us, become like us, and adopt our culture. Accommodation, on the other hand, begins with me wanting to know about you. How can I help you to become all God intends you to be? Tell me about your cultural nuances and how to make a gospel impact in your cultural setting! Recently, I had the privilege of baptizing Hwajin Lee, who came to our

church through our English classes offered on Wednesday evenings. During a class break, her instructor told me Hwajin wanted to know how to become a member of the church. A classmate served as my interpreter into her native language of Korean. Hwajin shared how she was reared in a believing home in Korea and had been attending a predominantly Korean church in America. However, since coming to First Baptist Church Duluth, she had experienced a spiritual call to be a part of something beyond her culture and beyond her language. People like Hwajin remind me of the spiritual task of building a ministry that is relevant to our local community. After experiencing the spiritual dynamics of a multicultural church, I do not ever desire to return to a monocultural world. As Hwajin shared with me that evening, “There is a spiritual call to something beyond my comfort zone.” The beautiful picture of heavenly worship in Revelation 7:9 might be beyond our comfort zone, but it is happening every week in my presence. I feel incredibly blessed. MARK HEARN is pastor of First Baptist Church Duluth, Georgia, and author of Technicolor: Inspiring Your Church to Embrace Multicultural Ministry.


A New Metric for Discipleship? By Daniel Im

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Have you ever judged the effectiveness of your ministry by attendance at church? On Easter Sunday, after setting up extra chairs, perhaps you had to pull out even more to accommodate the influx of people. It may have felt good to preach to a full room. Lives were changed and there was a tangible buzz in the air.


By all accounts, that service felt like a win. But then what happened in the following weeks? Where did all the people go? Did they stick with their faith? Or did everything go back to “normal?” And if that happened, did you end up feeling like a failure? The fact is, we can’t help having responses like this. From report cards and standardized testing scores to gas mileage in our cars and the square footage of our homes, we measure everything—especially what “success” looks like in ministry.

Facts & Trends • 45

God is the only one who gives the growth. No program, strategy, matrix, or pathway alone will cause your church members to grow.” Daniel Im, director of church multiplication at LifeWay

How many people were baptized last year? What is your average weekend attendance? How many campuses do you have? How many do you have on staff? What about your budget? Those can be great indicators of health. But they don’t measure matters of the heart. And they don’t tell us whether someone in our church is a disciple and whether people are maturing in their faith. I want to introduce a different way to measure success in discipleship—one that is based on one of the largest studies done to date on discipleship in North America. Let’s dig in. Measuring spiritual progress Measuring discipleship can be a little like measuring other kinds of human endeavors aimed at changing your life— like losing weight or saving money. There are two factors to keep in mind: input goals and output goals. Input goals are the behaviors or habits you adopt when trying to make a change. In weight loss, input goals would be things like counting calories, exercising, or cutting back on fast food. For saving money, they’d be things like bringing your lunch to work or setting a family budget. We adopt those input goals in order to see some kind of output in the future. Output goals equal feeling better physically, losing a certain number of pounds, or having a certain amount of money in the bank. The two are linked; certain kinds of inputs lead to certain kinds of outputs. Churches often measure success in ministry and whether someone is a mature disciple by using output goals, such as attendance, giving, and serving. But we need to think about input goals as well. A few years ago, LifeWay Research embarked on an in-depth study to examine the state of discipleship in the church today—the Transformational Discipleship Assessment (TDA). That study included interviews with 28 discipleship experts, a survey of 1,000 Protestant pastors, and a survey of 4,000 lay people in North America (30 percent of the respondents were from Canada). This research revealed eight attributes that consistently show up in the lives of maturing disciples: Bible engagement, obeying God and denying self, serving God and others, sharing Christ, exercising faith, seeking God, building relationships, and being unashamed (transparency). The study also found that certain kinds of behavior led to people growing in those attributes. Among them: confessing our sins and reading the Bible. The study found that confessing sins on a regular basis

46 • Facts & Trends


can lead to spiritual growth. People in the study who confessed their sins often became more transparent with other people, were more willing to deny themselves, and were more interested in seeking a deeper relationship with God. The study also found that confessing sins led people to be more willing to share Christ with others. As expected, praying for non-believers, sharing with them how to become Christians, and inviting them to church were the typical input goals that led to a higher score in the study’s output goal of sharing Christ. But how does confessing your sins relate to evangelism? Perhaps it’s confession that helps you get in the right posture to share your faith with others. Imagine the domino effect in maturity that would result if we continually led our congregation to confession on a regular basis. Reading the Bible was another input goal that affected spiritual growth. In fact, it was, hands down, the input goal that had the greatest direct impact on the total score of all output goals, or discipleship attributes, in the TDA. When asked, “How often, if at all, do you personally read the Bible?” individuals who read some Scripture every day showed higher levels of spiritual growth than those who didn’t read the Bible as regularly. It’s important to understand that this survey question was not measuring whether an individual studied the Bible thoroughly or memorized Scripture. While those two were definitely important factors that predicted a higher score for Bible engagement, this is not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about the simple act of reading the Bible on a regular basis. In other words, the more an individual did the input goal of reading the Bible, the higher the person scored in all of the output goals.

So the more you can help the people in your church to read the Bible, the better they will be able to obey God and deny self, serve God and others, share Christ, exercise their faith, seek God, build relationships, and be unashamed about their faith. This is astounding. While you might not need a research project to tell you that reading your Bible helps you mature broadly as a disciple, it’s amazing that it helps you grow in all of these specific discipleship attributes. Faithfulness and fruitfulness While it’s easy for me to geek out on this research, since I’m passionate about discipleship and church strategy, I need to remind myself that I cannot force myself or legalistically mature myself in Christ. I can be faithful, which will result in fruitfulness in God’s timing and His providence, but I cannot make myself fruitful. Ultimately, there’s nothing you or I can do to cause ourselves or those in our churches to grow spiritually. God is the one who gives the growth (1 Corinthians 3:6). No program, strategy, matrix, or pathway alone will cause your church members to grow. Growth is up to God and it’s ultimately His responsibility. However, we cannot let that be a cop-out for doing nothing. We still have a role in the growth, as outlined in 1 Corinthians 3:4-7, to plant and water the harvest that is so plentiful. DANIEL IM (@DANIELSANGI) is director of church multiplication at LifeWay and author of No Silver Bullets: Five Small Shifts That Will Transform Your Ministry (B&H Publishing), from which this article was adapted.


DIG DEEPER No Silver Bullets: Five Small Shifts That Will Transform Your Ministry For the full list of behaviors that led to spiritual growth, as well as a plan and system to help you develop a discipleship pathway that fits the unique culture of your church, pick up a copy at your local LifeWay Store or LifeWay.com.

Facts & Trends • 47

ON OUR RADAR Practical resources for you and your church

Books & Bible Studies

Sacred Privilege


Looking for a New Pastor





ay Warren understands many facets of being related to the pastor: daughter, wife, mother, mother-in-law. Because Saddleback Church began in her living room with seven people, she knows what it’s like to be part of a small, developing church as well as a large, thriving one. Sacred Privilege provides practical encouragement that pastors’ wives across the nation desire. Warren confirms that being a pastor’s wife does not mean being perfect. She reveals the brokenness that resulted from childhood molestation, the allure of pornography, intense marital conflict and temptation, as well as depression and a distorted view of her worth. Losing a child to suicide could have been the catalyst for leaving ministry, but Warren’s faith in God’s redemptive plan has kept her feet planted. The road has not been easy, but she can confidently say that being a pastor’s wife is truly a “sacred privilege.”


hy do you sing at church? It’s a question we almost never ask aloud. Yet this question is significant in the lives of Christians who regularly gather for worship. Do you sing to God? Or do you “address one another in hymns and spiritual songs,” as the Scripture says? What is your posture in worship? This book is designed with these questions in mind. Authors, lyricists, and worship leaders, Keith and Kristyn Getty write to church members to remind them why the church should sing, when the church should sing, and how the church should sing. Congregations with a greater understanding of why they sing won’t dread a worship service but will see singing as an opportunity to proclaim the gospel together. Sing! guides church members to declare with one voice, This is why we sing!

48 • Facts & Trends


ooking for a New Pastor: 10 Questions Every Church Should Ask is a product of Frank Page’s more than three decades of full-time pastoral ministry. Using Scripture as the foundation and real-life examples of searches done well and searches gone bad, Page gives advice on what to look for, what to ask, and what to do. Looking for a New Pastor uses insider experience to answer questions all search committees ask. It lists warning signs for every church and includes questions that churches and prospective pastors alike wish they had known to ask. Looking for a New Pastor deals with the “how-to” of a pastor search, but more importantly, it deals with the “why” and “why not.”


These and other resources are available at LifeWay stores and LifeWay.com.



ver the centuries, much ink has been spilled on the subject of grace. Yet perhaps nothing is as hard to explain as God’s grace. It doesn’t make sense. The best way—perhaps the only real way—to understand it is to experience it. But too often in our churches we’re not getting grace across and grace is not experienced. Bestselling author and pastor Kyle Idleman wants everyone to experience the grace of God. Grace is Greater leads readers toward an understanding of grace that is bigger than our mistakes, our failures, our desire for revenge, and our seemingly impossible situations. No sin is so great, no bitterness so deep that God’s grace cannot transform the heart and rewrite the story.

The Most Misused Stories in the Bible



he number one way to experience spiritual growth is by regularly digging into God’s Word. Foundations helps you do that. The Bible study gives readers a deeper understanding of the Bible as a whole and of individual passages by going through the entire story of Scripture but allowing time to go deeper into the readings. The devotional content helps those new to the Bible and those well-versed in Scripture gain practical insights and applications. Read through all of the key, foundational passages of the Bible in one year, while still having the flexibility of reading five days per week for a total of 260 readings. Along with supplementary devotional content each day, you can experience the miracle of reading and responding to God’s Word. By using the H.E.A.R. journaling method, you will be guided through Highlighting, Explaining, Applying, and Responding to passages, allowing for practical application throughout the yearlong plan.


re you sure you know what your favorite Bible stories mean? Are you sure the people in your congregation know? A surprising number of popular Bible stories are commonly misused or misunderstood, even by well-intentioned Christians. In this book, Eric Bargerhuff sorts through modern-day distortions to help people grasp the meaning and purpose of well-known stories such as these: • David and Goliath • Jonah and the big fish • The woman caught in adultery • Zacchaeus the tax collector • Gideon and his fleece • Judas the betrayer of Jesus Filled with fascinating historical and scriptural insights, this concise yet thorough book will help you learn how to read and apply all of God’s Word more faithfully.




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ON OUR RADAR Practical resources for you and your church

Books & Bible Studies


Gospel Fluency




hen my doctor told me I was “ dying, I came alive.” What happens when you come face-to-face with your mortality? When your body fails you, what happens to your faith? Russ Ramsey was struck by a bacterial infection that destroyed his mitral valve, sending him into heart failure and requiring urgent open-heart surgery. As he faced the possibility of death, he found himself awakened to new realities. In the critical days and months that followed, Ramsey came to see the world through the eyes of affliction. He grappled with fear, anger, depression, and loss, yet he experienced grace through the suffering that filled him with a hope and hunger for the life to come. His memoir gives voice to the deepest questions of the human condition. Struck is vulnerable and honest about the deepest questions of life we face, but it reminds readers that in the midst of pain, we can see glimpses of eternity.


ven if they want to, many Christians find it hard to talk to others about Jesus. Is it possible this difficulty is because we’re trying to speak a language we haven’t spent time practicing? To become fluent in a new language, you must immerse yourself in it until you actually start to think about life through it. Becoming fluent in the gospel happens the same way—after believing it, we have to intentionally rehearse it (to ourselves and to others) and immerse ourselves in its truths. Only then will we start to see how everything in our lives, from the mundane to the magnificent, is transformed by the hope of the gospel. In Gospel Fluency, pastor and speaker Jeff Vanderstelt explores why everyone needs to hear the gospel on a regular basis. Once believers become more fluent in it, the gospel will become a natural part of everyday conversations.

50 • Facts & Trends

12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You BY TONY REINKE (CROSSWAY)


o you control your phone, or does your phone control you? Within a few years of its unveiling, the smartphone had become part of us, fully integrated into the daily patterns of our lives. Never offline, always within reach, we now wield in our hands a magic wand of technological power we have only begun to grasp. But it raises new enigmas, too. Never more connected, we seem to be growing more distant. Never more efficient, we have never been more distracted. Drawing from the insights of numerous thinkers, published studies, and his own research, writer Tony Reinke identifies 12 potent ways our smartphones have changed us—for good and bad. Reinke calls us to cultivate wise thinking and healthy habits in the digital age, encouraging us to maximize the many blessings, to avoid the various pitfalls, and to wisely wield the most powerful gadget of human connection ever unleashed. SUMMER 2017

These and other resources are available at LifeWay stores and LifeWay.com.


Send North America Conference ORLANDO, FLORIDA (JULY 25-26) Featured leaders: Kevin Ezell, David Platt, D.A. Horton, Trip Lee, Kathy Litton, Danny Akin, Erick Zaldaña, Christine Hoover, Jimmy Scroggins, Crowder, and more.


re you ready to join the everyday mission of God? The Send North America Conference is a two-day gathering of the church in North America. The heart of this gathering is to see a movement of people from within the church living out the mission of God in their everyday lives. It features leaders who exhibit what it means to live life on mission. Their collective heart to see a movement of people joining the everyday mission of God will motivate and equip. The Send conference is for the church. That means it is for church members, students, lay leaders, pastors, group leaders, church planters, Sunday school teachers, student pastors, missionaries and anyone else who makes up the local church. SendConference.com/Orlando

The Main Event




(JULY 28-29)

(OCTOBER 11-13)


Featured leaders: Kurt Warner, Darryl Strawberry, the Benham Brothers, J.D. Greear, Eric Geiger, Clayton King, and more.


re you willing to go all in for Christ? God revels in taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary. He takes the common, mediocre, and leftover and declares them exceptional. He takes the broken and makes them whole and new. God is not looking for men who are deemed successful, impressive, or even good by the world’s standards. He’s looking for ordinary men who are willing to go all in—because no man is called to live an ordinary, partial life for God. The Main Event encourages men to embrace God’s calling, challenges them to take action, and equips them with truth so they can live extraordinary lives for God. LifeWay.com/MainEvent

Featured speakers: John Piper, Bob Russell, H.B. Charles, Thom S. Rainer, Léonce Crump, Tami Heim, and more.


phesians 4 says the calling of church leaders is not simply to do the work of ministry but to “train people in the work of ministry” in order to have the healthiest, most effective churches. Pipeline aims to help you do just that. This year’s theme, “Succession at Every Level,” focuses on the importance of developing people in every church ministry and context. Every person who serves or leads is an interim and will move on at some point for some reason. Is your church ready to replace them when they do? If you have a leadership pipeline, you will be. Pipeline will feature plenary sessions as well as TED-style presentations offering application and implementation. After each session there will be a Q&A moderated by Todd Adkins and Barnabas Piper, the co-hosts of the popular “5 Leadership Questions” podcast, to answer questions and offer clarity. MyLeadershipPipeline.com


Facts & Trends • 51

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Facts & Trends - Summer 2017 - Sharing the Word  

Facts & Trends is designed to help pastors and other Christian leaders navigate the issues and trends impacting the church by providing info...

Facts & Trends - Summer 2017 - Sharing the Word  

Facts & Trends is designed to help pastors and other Christian leaders navigate the issues and trends impacting the church by providing info...