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LifeWay highlights ‘Transformational Church’

ORLANDO, Fla. (BP)–LifeWay Christian Resources set forth a theme of hope in its annual report to the Southern Baptist Convention as president and CEO Thom Rainer highlighted the “Transformational Church” initiative and “Courageous,” the upcoming movie project with Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga.

Rainer said both emphases demonstrate great hope for the church and for families.

The Transformational Church initiative began with an extensive research project involving 7,000 churches, 250 pastor and staff interviews and 20,000 church member surveys. Once the data was organized and evaluated, insights emerged into God’s work of transforming lives and congregations.

“I have often spoken about the dismal state of the church in America, but we began to research churches that were demonstrating hope,” Rainer said. “These churches were transforming lives and communities. We discovered that God is not yet done with the American church. Our joy was to discover these transformational churches.”

The Transformational Church initiative seeks to use the research to assist churches toward greater growth and impact for the Kingdom of Christ, said Ed Stetzer, director of LifeWay Research, who shared the podium with Rainer to introduce the research and the initiative.

“What we’re trying to do is help churches engage God’s mission more faithfully to see the transformation of individual lives through the proclamation of the Gospel, the transformation of churches as they join God on mission and the transformation of communities so that the name and fame of Jesus might be more widely known,” Stetzer said.

To help churches see and understand what transformation looks like, Stetzer noted that a “new scorecard” has been developed focusing on more than just “nickels, noses and numbers.”

Stetzer said elements of this new scorecard are described in “the transformational loop,” which calls for each church to discern its context, or individual personality and environment, that leads it to a missionary mindset; embrace values such as vibrant leadership, relational intentionality and prayerful dependence; and engage in right actions of worship, mission and community.

Rainer said the Transformational Church initiative is “not just another LifeWay Research project or resource on our shelves.”

“It is more than just a book, a website, a DVD discussion guide, retreat for church leaders or diagnostic tool for congregations,” Rainer said. “This is an initiative that I believe will shape our ministry and vision at LifeWay. We love the church, and our goal is to see transformed people changing the world for the Kingdom of Christ.”

Rainer also invited Michael Catt, senior pastor of Sherwood Baptist Church, to introduce “Courageous” and speak about the relationship between Sherwood and LifeWay.

In 2008, Sherwood partnered with LifeWay to produce “Love Dare” products related to Sherwood’s popular movie “Fireproof.” Rainer noted that thousands of marriages were saved and more than 15,000 people made professions of faith in Jesus Christ.

The new Sherwood film, “Courageous,” is about four police officers and their journeys to be better fathers. It will show the consequences of fatherless homes and what a home with a God-fearing father can look like.

Catt said LifeWay’s time and energy in this latest project has been “an incredible blessing,” not just because of the products that will be produced relating to the movie, but also the Kingdom impact that will be made and the many people who will be engaged with the message of godly fatherhood.

“We are asking God to start a men’s movement out of this movie,” Catt said. “Part of that prayer is what God will allow us to do together as Sherwood Baptist Church and LifeWay.”
Micah Carter is associate to the vice president of the executive communications and relations division of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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