New Research: Maturing Believers Exercise Faith, Trust

LifeWay Research has released a new research brief on maturing believers. Here are the details:

Believers who are progressing in spiritual maturity are more likely to exercise their faith by trusting God even in difficult circumstances, according to a survey by LifeWay Research.

“Exercising Faith” is one of eight attributes of discipleship that consistently show up in the lives of maturing Christians. The attributes are part of the Transformational Discipleship study conducted by LifeWay Research.

Among the eight attributes of discipleship tested, churchgoers have higher scores for Exercising Faith than any of the other attributes, said Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research. Yet, he pointed out, only 13 percent of attendees were able to give the best response to all of the questions in this attribute.

“It is easy to say God has a purpose for everything in life, but it requires faith to enjoy seeing His plan unfold in difficult times,” Stetzer said.

Additionally, 86 percent agree they “express praise and gratitude to God even in difficult circumstances.”

Seventy-eight percent disagree that, in the midst of difficult circumstances, they “sometimes doubt that God loves me and will provide for my life.” Fifteen percent agree they sometimes doubt the love of God and His provision.

The survey shows the longer someone has trusted Christ as their Savior, the better their responses are for exercising faith. Being involved in a Bible study group, praying for Christians and non-Christians, and witnessing to nonbelievers also make a positive impact…

The survey also reveals those stronger in their faith are less prone to doubt God’s involvement, even in unexplainable circumstances. Just 9 percent agree with the statement: “When things happen in my life I can’t explain, I typically doubt God is involved.” Eighty percent disagree with the statement.

To help pastors, churches and individuals measure spiritual development, LifeWay Research used the study’s data to develop a questionnaire for believers, called the Transformational Discipleship Assessment (TDA), an online evaluation that delivers individual and group reports on spiritual maturity using the eight attributes of biblical discipleship. The TDA also provides helpful and practical suggestions for churches and individuals on appropriate next steps for spiritual development.

To learn more about the transformational discipleship research visit LifeWayResearch.com. The TDA is available at TDA.LifeWay.com.

You can read the full release with methodology here.

Read more from Ed here.

Download PDF

Tags: , , , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Process >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., holds the Billy Graham Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College and serves as Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates, and has written dozens of articles and books. Previously, he served as Executive Director of LifeWay Research. Stetzer is a contributing editor for Christianity Today, a columnist for Outreach Magazine, and is frequently cited or interviewed in news outlets such as USAToday and CNN. He serves as interim pastor of Moody Church in Chicago.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

New Discipleship Research: Selflessness Leads to Spiritual Maturity

Throughout the year, we have been releasing new research in support of Transformational Discipleship. This latest research is on “Serving God and Others”– one of eight attributes of discipleship that consistently show up in the lives of believers who are progressing in spiritual maturity.

Service doesn’t just happen in a church. It must be modeled and encouraged. As we look at the breakdown of attributes and correlated disciplines, the data shows that praying expectantly, getting involved in the community and discipling others fosters a posture of serving. As such, disciples are serving in, through, and beyond their churches for the cause of Christ.

Service and activism have become popular in our culture today, especially among younger adults. However, most of this benevolent activity is fairly low-level involvement that does not cost the giver much. The midrange responses on the Serving God and Others attribute reveals lots of good intentions and some occasional actions but much lower intentionality, consistency or sacrifice.

Serving clearly impacts growth, and the study shows that individuals who have positive scores for Serving God and Others have higher scores in the other seven attributes of the Transformational Discipleship study, as well.

For example, scores for Sharing Christ jump 24 percent when individuals have positive Serving God and Others’ scores and 51 percent for individuals with the highest Serving God and Others scores. Likewise, positive responses in the other seven attributes of discipleship correlate with higher scores in Serving God and Others.

Growth leads to service and serving leads to growth – it’s deeply connected. Positive scores in Bible Engagement result in a 17 percent increase in scores for Serving God and Others compared to those who do not have positive scores for Bible Engagement.

We saw most say they were serving in some way, but far too many are sitting down on the job – particularly when the Bible says everyone should ‘…use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God’ (1 Peter 4:10; HCSB). There is a huge gap between this passage and most churches’ practice.

From the release (read the full article here):

The survey shows 58 percent of Protestant churchgoers in the United States agree with the statement: “I am intentionally putting my spiritual gift(s) to use serving God and others.” Seventeen percent disagree with the statement.

A greater percentage of respondents indicate they look for opportunities to serve others in the community. Asked to respond to the statement: “I intentionally try to serve people outside my church who have tangible needs,” 60 percent agree – although only 17 percent strongly agree. Fifteen percent disagreed with the statement.

Churchgoers indicate much lower agreement related to sacrificial giving. Just 9 percent of churchgoers strongly agree with the statement: “I intentionally give up certain purchases so I can use that money for others.” Thirty percent somewhat agree and 32 percent disagree.

Approximately a quarter of respondents selected “neither agree nor disagree” as their answer for the three statements.

I shared a pre-release version of this data at the Q Conference, which was focused on serving other for the common good. Statistically, growing Christians serve and serving Christians grow. Sojourners reported on the data here. I’m encouraged to see the statistical connection, but am not surprised considering the biblical connection.

These findings on serving God and others are part of the largest discipleship study of its kind. Results from each of the eight attributes of spiritual maturity will continue to be released over the coming months.

To help pastors, churches and individuals measure spiritual development, LifeWay Research used the study’s data to develop a questionnaire for believers, called the Transformational Discipleship Assessment (TDA). This online evaluation delivers both individual and group reports on spiritual maturity using the eight factors of biblical discipleship. The TDA also provides helpful and practical suggestions on appropriate next steps for spiritual development.

Download PDF

Tags: , , , , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Process >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., holds the Billy Graham Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College and serves as Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates, and has written dozens of articles and books. Previously, he served as Executive Director of LifeWay Research. Stetzer is a contributing editor for Christianity Today, a columnist for Outreach Magazine, and is frequently cited or interviewed in news outlets such as USAToday and CNN. He serves as interim pastor of Moody Church in Chicago.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Obedience is Not an Easy Decision for Believers

Throughout 2012, we have been releasing groundbreaking new research from LifeWay Research’s Transformational Discipleship study. In the study, we were able to identify eight attributes which consistently show up in the lives of believers who are progressing in spiritual maturity.

The latest data released focuses on the need to make personal, sacrificial decisions in order to better obey Christ, or as we have titled it “Obeying God and Denying Self”. The study found that less than one-third of churchgoers strongly agree they are following through in specific aspects of obedience.

From the release:

The survey reveals 64 percent of churchgoers agree with the statement: “A Christian must learn to deny himself/herself in order to serve Christ.” Nineteen percent disagree with the statement.

The survey measures confession of sins and asking God for forgiveness as one component of ‘Obeying God and Denying Self.’ When asked how often, if at all, they personally “confess…sins and wrongdoings to God and ask for forgiveness,” 39 percent indicate every day and 27 percent say at least a few times a week. Eight percent of respondents say they rarely or never confess sins and wrongdoings to God and ask forgiveness.

Sin was not only addressed after the fact – the survey also asked individual churchgoers how proactive they are in avoiding sin with the statement: “I try to avoid situations in which I might be tempted to think or do immoral things.” Three-fourths agree with the statement, but only 32 percent strongly agree. Ten percent disagree, and 16 percent responded indifferently.

The survey also examines an individual’s inclination to adjust their attitude through the statement: “When I realize my attitude does not please God, I take steps to try to fix it.” More than 80 percent agree with the statement, but only 32 percent strongly agree. Fifteen percent neither agree nor disagree, and four percent disagree.

Actions that can positively impact the scores of individuals on the Obeying God and Denying Self attribute were identified as:

  • Attending a worship service;
  • Making a decision to obey or follow God with an awareness that choosing His way may in some way be costly;
  • Being discipled or mentored one-on-one by a more spiritually mature Christian;
  • Reading the Bible or a book about what is in the Bible;
  • Praying for the spiritual status of unbelieving acquaintances;
  • Setting aside time for prayer of any kind.

Obeying God and Denying Self is also the only one of the eight attributes of discipleship that was predicted by more frequent worship attendance.

These findings on obeying God and denying self are part of the largest discipleship study of its kind. Results from each of the eight attributes of spiritual maturity will continue to be released over the coming months.

To help pastors, churches and individuals measure spiritual development, LifeWay Research used the study’s data to develop a questionnaire for believers, called the Transformational Discipleship Assessment (TDA). This online evaluation delivers both individual and group reports on spiritual maturity using the eight factors of biblical discipleship. The TDA also provides helpful and practical suggestions on appropriate next steps for spiritual development.

Download PDF

Tags: , , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Process >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., holds the Billy Graham Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College and serves as Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates, and has written dozens of articles and books. Previously, he served as Executive Director of LifeWay Research. Stetzer is a contributing editor for Christianity Today, a columnist for Outreach Magazine, and is frequently cited or interviewed in news outlets such as USAToday and CNN. He serves as interim pastor of Moody Church in Chicago.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.