Christians live in an age where there is a gap between “what is” and “what should be.” Unfortunately, we do not fully know what “what is” really is.
By Thom S. Rainer
President, LifeWay Christian Resources
Christians live in an age where there is a gap
between “what is” and “what should be.” Unfortunately, we do not fully
know what “what is” really is.
We do not truly understand the health of our
churches, the level of commitment of their members, or the level of
impact churches are having in their communities. As a result churches
become inefficient in reaching the spiritually lost with the gospel.
We do come closer to having an idea of what should
be, but we don’t know how to close the gap. LifeWay Research will help
churches, Christians, culture and the unchurched clearly identify their
Additionally, LifeWay Research will propose ways to
close the gap so that what should be becomes the new “what is.”
I announced the launch of LifeWay Research a couple
weeks ago at LifeWay’s semi-annual trustee meeting, six days after
officially becoming LifeWay Christian Resources’ ninth president.
I do not state this lightly: My goal is to make LifeWay Research the
premier Christian research organization in the world. I am driven to
that end by my passion for the local church.
To reach that potential, however, we must first
acknowledge reality, and reality is that about 96 percent of the
churches in America do not meet the criteria for being effective
Most of these churches have good pastors and good
laypeople, but they have not broken out of their mediocrity. They have
become satisfied with the status quo; they resist change and often
minister only to those inside the church. They may have large budgets,
but they are not making a significant impact on their communities.
Those are the facts. How do we change them?
One primary purpose of LifeWay Research is to help
LifeWay better understand churches and their needs so we can respond
with more relevant products and ministries.
This type of connection between the church and
its effectiveness in its community is enhanced when Christians and
churches understand the relevant issues of the day. This is another
purpose of LifeWay Research. We will have a finger on the pulse of
culture and the unchurched world.
LifeWay Research will also attempt to understand
specific areas of ministry better, such as students, women, Sunday
school, small groups, leadership, music and more.
LifeWay’s goal is not to help churches do more; it
is to help churches identify strategic opportunities that can be
maximized for the greatest Kingdom impact.
Do I know at this time what LifeWay Research will finally look like? I do not.
We’ve launched this boat from the dock not yet fully
built, but with a definite destination in mind, with a blueprint that
allows us flexibility to adjust quickly and the intention to deliver
timely and relevant information.
Under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, LifeWay
Research will be a torch that lights a path leading from “what is” to
“what should be.”