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Prayer: No. 1 issue in churches, survey of leaders shows

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–A LifeWay Christian Resources survey of more than 1,300 evangelical leaders from around the world revealed that the need for consistent and passionate prayer in church and personal life is the No. 1 issue in today’s churches.

The April 11 announcement of prayer as the No. 1 issue culminates a LifeWay e-business initiative to ask evangelical ministry leaders from a variety of backgrounds to rank the “Top 10 Issues Facing Today’s Church.”

“This project was an opportunity for us to learn what challenges churches are facing,” said Gary McClure, LifeWay’s e-business marketing manager. And it will provide data with which the Southern Baptist entity can have “the opportunity to propose effective biblical solutions to those issues,” he said.

The LifeWay unit compiled information and multiple resources addressing each issue and has posted the materials online. For the complete survey results and reports addressing all the ranked issues, visit www.lifeway.com/top10.

LifeWay’s e-business department began the two-month online research project last November by distributing thousands of e-mails throughout the United States and world asking ministry leaders to cite top concerns in their churches.

From the initial list of responses, the 20 most frequently submitted answers were sent back to all the ministry leaders who responded to the first round of e-mails. During December, these leaders used the same Internet survey tool to rank their top 10 from among those 20 issues.

The resulting list of 10 issues includes such diverse topics as abortion (no. 10) and evangelism (no. 4). But it was prayer that ministry leaders cited as the most pressing concern in their churches.

“In order for today’s church to remain strong in the midst of an evil society, it must be a praying church,” said Gary Butler, a survey participant from Gospel Lighthouse Church in Anadarko, Okla.

“If we as believers … want to see the same mighty move of God that the early church saw, we must pray just as the early church did. Show me a praying Christian and church and I will show you a victorious Christian and church.”

According to the survey’s final results, the top 10 issues were:

1. Prayer: The need for more ongoing, passionate prayer in both personal and church life.

2. Discipleship: The need for involvement of every believer in being continually transformed into the image of Christ.

3. Leadership: The need for clear, biblical vision and direction by church leaders.

4. Evangelism: The decline among Christians in personal sharing of the Gospel.

5. Doctrine/Worldview: The growing pressure to compromise principles to make truths more palatable to an audience. The widening influence of explicitly anti-Christian culture and negative influences on the church.

6. Apathy: The seeming lack of personal interest, support and enthusiasm from the pews for the work of the church.

7. Marriage: The negative effects on families that result from divorce, adultery, etc.

8. Relevance: The seeming inability of the church to answer questions one has living in the “real world.”

9. Homosexuality: The rising social pressure to accept same-sex behavior and relationships.

10. Abortion: The church’s lack of an effective response to 30-plus years of legalized abortion.

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