Illinois Baptist 07 24 2017 E Edition Page 3

THE TICKER Follow the latest Illinois Baptist news NEWS of 1,500 pastors and church leaders found and ranked 29 predictors of growth through Christian conversion at churches of 250 members or less. Study authors released the top 10 growth predictors June 26. Second to attracting and keeping the unchurched, small churches that grow by Christian conversions tend to offer classes for new at- tendees, the study found. Such classes help even when they are not evangelistic. Third, small churches that grow through new baptisms are led by pastors who rou- tinely undergo personal evangelism training. If the pastor is a learner and stays inspired and growing in the area of evangelism, study authors said, that pastors church will reach more people who commit to Christ and who stick. In response to declining baptisms in the U.S., Southern Baptist Convention President Steve Gaines appointed a 19-member evan- gelism task force at the 2017 SBC annual meeting. The group of SBC seminary presi- dents and professors, pastors, and a state convention leader are expected to report its indings at the 2018 SBC annual meeting in Dallas. Nearly 90% of Southern Baptist churches had weekly attendance of 250 or less as re- cently as 2013, and qualified for the small church category. In the Wheaton study, the other top growth predictors among small churches are: The pastor more frequently pops the question, asking people to commit after he shares the gospel. The church spends a higher percentage of its budget on evangelism and missions. Church members often tell the pastor that they themselves are sharing the gospel with others, rather than relying on the pastor to carry the load alone. The church does not need superstar pastors who share their faith while everybody in the church cheers them on from the sidelines, study authors said. Unchurched visitors often communicate favorable feedback to pastors after weekly worship services. The church shares the gospel outside its walls and conducts community service. Churches that grow through conversions concurrently tend to draw members from other congregations. In other words, study authors wrote, transfer and conversion growth tend to go together for small church- es. Cited as the 10th most predictive factor of growth through new conversions, accord- ing to the study, the pastor more frequently blocks out time in the calendar for the pur- pose of sharing the gospel with non-Chris- tians. If the pastor is to lead evangelism in the church, the pastor must first personally live out the evangelism call. Smaller churches in the survey, those with 150 or fewer members, tended to grow more easily than the larger small churches in the survey, the study found. Additionally, pre- dominantly Hispanic and Native American churches tended to fare better in growth. Joining Southern Baptists in responding to the survey are members of the Assemblies of God, the Associate Reformed Presbyteri- an Church, the Church of the Nazarene, the Conservative Congregational Christian Con- ference, Converge Worldwide, the Evangeli- cal Covenant Church, the Evangelical Free Church in America, The Foursquare Church, the Missionary Church, Vineyard US, and The Wesleyan Church. Study authors include Ed Stetzer, execu- tive director of Wheatons Billy Graham Cen- ter for Evangelism and former LifeWay Re- search executive director. LifeWay Research plans to release a full re- port of the study at - Diana Chandler, Baptist Press 3 July 24, 2017 IB Continued from page 1 From the Front: 10 factors in smaller church growth Younger evangelicals approve gay marriage Almost half of young, white evangelicals approve of same-sex marriage, according to a new survey by Pew Research Center. The increase, from 29% to 47% in just over a year, shows a dramatic shift. The survey showed a majority of white evangeli- cals overall disapprove of gay marriage (59%), but the shift toward approval among those born after 1964 is changing the balance. Wide margins of Catholics (67%), white mainline Protestants (68%), and the religiously uniliated (85%) favor legal marriage for same-sex couples. Black Protestants oppose gay marriage 50% to 44%, according to Pew. Among Americans overall, approval is at 62%. Gay-friendly club costs Samford University Samford University in Birmingham will no lon- ger receive funds from the Alabama Baptist State Convention after 2017, a loss to the historically Baptist college of over $3 million from Alabamas Cooperative Program budget. The school ap- proved the decision after tensions arose over Sam- ford Together, a proposed student organization that would facilitate discussion of topics related to human sexuality. Message translator modifiesLGBTstance One day after saying he would perform a gay wedding if asked, the translator of The Message version of the Bible changed his mind. Presbyterian pastor Eugene Peterson says he has known several homosexual ministers over the years. I wouldnt have said this 20 years ago, said Peterson, 84, but now I know a lot of people who are gay and lesbian and they seem to have as good a spiritual life as I do. But Peterson later amended his statement about same-sex marriages, saying he felt put on the spot in a interview by Southern Baptist Jonathan Merritt for Religion News Ser- vice. The SBCs LifeWay Christian Resources was reportedly considering whether to pull Petersons books from their shelves. culture PETERSON - Baptist Press 0-9% unchurched 12% 10-19% unchurched 20-29% unchurched 30-49% unchurched 50% or higher unchurched Don't know/Refused 27% 23% 24% 13% 16% 13% 9% 35% 18% 5% Percentage of newcomers in your church in the past five years who were previously unchurched Top 20% of responding churches Bottom 50% - LifeWay Research DRAWING THE LOST Effective smaller congregations reach unchurched people in addition to transfer growth.

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