Archives For LifeWay Research

The BriefingTrump relying on God now more than ever
President Trump told the Christian Broadcasting Network becoming President of the United States has made him rely on God more than ever. “I would say that the office is so powerful that you need God even more,” Trump told The Brody File. “There’s almost not a decision that you make when you’re sitting in this position that isn’t a really life-altering position. So, God comes in even more so.”

Trump to announce Supreme Court pick Jan. 31
Setting up a high-stakes legal and political battle, President Trump said Monday he will announce his Supreme Court choice in a prime-time address Tuesday night, two days earlier than initially scheduled. He did not disclose the identity of his nominee, but told reporters that his pick is “unbelievably highly respected” and people will be “very impressed” by the selection.

ERLC deploys online effort for PPFA defunding
The ERLC announced an online advertising campaign to rally support for the congressional drive to cut federal dollars for Planned Parenthood, the country’s No. 1 abortion provider. The effort is the first of its kind by the ERLC and includes a digital petition that makes it possible for the commission to deliver the list of signers to congressional leaders.

Tornado damages William Carey University
An EF3 tornado that ripped through southern Mississippi Jan. 21 in the wee hours of the morning damaged nearly all the 30 buildings on William Carey University’s Hattiesburg campus and left seven students injured. William Carey is affiliated with the Mississippi Baptist Convention and has campuses in Hattiesburg and Biloxi.

Super Bowl won’t stop church services
For churches that have Sunday night activities, most pastors say it’s still “game on” despite the big game next weekend. According to a new study from LifeWay Research, 68% of Protestant pastors say their church typically has some activity on Sunday night. And among those pastors, almost 6 in 10 (59%) say they will continue as normal on the night of the Super Bowl.

 Sources: CBN, USA Today, Baptist Press, Facts & Trends, Baptist Press (2)

The BriefingRestroom directive harms the transgendered
The Obama administration’s directive regarding restroom use for transgender students at public schools and universities likely will harm children struggling with their gender identity and increase the number who become transgendered. That’s the conclusion of two Southern Baptist psychologists who have treated adolescents with gender dysphoria.

Transgender bathroom laws worry even liberal parents
Girls from a swim team in New York City’s Upper West Side are too scared to use the women’s locker room at a Parks Department swimming pool. In March, a sign appeared noting that everyone has the the right to use the restroom or locker room consistent with their “gender identity or gender expression.” Around the same time, the girls became concerned after they saw a “bearded individual” in the women’s changing room.

Abortion mandate cases returned to lower courts
The U.S. Supreme Court returned to the lower courts for reconsideration a disagreement between religious objectors and the federal government over the Obama administration’s abortion/contraception mandate, which requires employers to make contraceptives available to their workers, including ones that can potentially induce abortions. The appeals involve the Little Sisters of the Poor and GuideStone Financial Resources.

Stetzer leaving LifeWay for Wheaton College
Dr. Ed Stetzer has been appointed to a newly created chair, The Billy Graham Distinguished Endowed Chair for Church, Mission, and Evangelism. In this role, he has been named Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism at Wheaton College (BGCE). Stetzer shared some of the details as to why he’s making the move.

Going to church could help you live longer
Researchers have found that women who went to church more than once a week had a 33% lower risk of dying during the study period compared with those who said they never went. Women who regularly attended religious services also had higher rates of social support and optimism, had lower rates of depression and were less likely to smoke.

Sources: Baptist Press, Time, Baptist Press, Christianity Today, CNN

THE BRIEFING | You’re not the only one to ask God for a good parking spot, according to a new report from LifeWay Research. In partnership with author Max Lucado, LifeWay asked 1,137 Americans about how often they pray and what for, and got some interesting answers:

  • 7% of Americans who pray have prayed before to find a good parking spot. The same percentage have prayed they won’t get caught speeding.
  • 13% have prayed for their favorite team will win a game.
  • 21% have prayed to win the lottery.

whatpeopleprayforThe survey found Americans’ prayers are largely personal, according to a LifeWay report on the reseach. “Family and friends” tops the list of things typically prayed for (82%), followed by “my own problems and difficulties” (74%) and “good things that have recently occurred” (54%). Toward the bottom of the list:

  • People of other faiths or no faith – 20%
  • Government leaders – 12%
  • Celebrities or people in the public eye – 5%

For more findings, go to LifeWayResearch.com.

SCOTUS won’t review marriage petitions
The Supreme Court’s decision Monday to let stand lower court rulings on same-sex marriage “means an immediate expansion of gay marriage,” said Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. The Supreme Court surprised many Monday by deciding not to review appeals from states where bans on same-sex marriage have been overturned. Their move to “decide gay marriage by not deciding,” reported USA Today, could quickly make same-sex marriage legal for 60% of the U.S. population. Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore said the decision “means an immediate expansion of gay marriage,” and posted on his blog about what the Court’s action means for the church.

Helping churches navigate the rapidly changing marriage culture also is the purpose of “Elevate Marriage,” an Oct. 16 conference for pastors and church leaders at the Illinois Baptist State Association in Springfield. Featured speakers include Kevin Smith, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Andrew Walker, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission; and Jill Finley, Bethel Baptist Church, Troy, Ill. Lunch is included, and registration is required; go to www.IBSA.org/Marriage.

Warrens to host 24-hour mental health event
Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren and his wife, Kay, will host a 24-hour online broadcast focused on mental health on Oct. 10, designated as World Mental Health Day. According to the web page for “24 Hours of Hope,” the free event is “designed to encourage individuals living with a mental illness, educate and support their families, and equip church leaders for compassionate and effective mental health ministry.

The Warrens, who lost a son to suicide last year, hosted the “Gathering on Mental Health and the Church” at their Lake Forest, Ca., church in March. The Oct. 10 broadcast will feature material from that meeting, as well as new interviews and messages.

Annual list reports largest, fastest-growing churches
Twenty-two Southern Baptist churches are on Outreach’s new list of the 100 largest churches in America. The SBC congregation at number two on the list, NewSpring Church in Anderson, S.C., is also the second fastest-growing church in America. North Point Ministries, a network of churches pastored by Andy Stanley, topped the list as the country’s largest church, Outreach reported.

‘Left Behind’ misses with critics and audiences
The most recent big-screen version of “Left Behind” didn’t score well with most critics, and grossed only $6.9 million in its opening weekend (it was made for $16 million). While Variety’s review deemed the Nicolas Cage project exemplary of the bleak landscape of faith-centric movies, Christianity Today critic Jackson Cuidon said it’s not a Christian movie at all.

THE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn

Nearly two-thirds of Protestant senior pastors rarely or never speak to their congregations about mental illness, according to an extensive new study by LifeWay Research. But the majority of people who have a family member suffering from mental illness, or who are suffering themselves, want their church to talk openly about the topic so it won’t be so taboo.

“Our research found people who suffer from mental illness often turn to pastors for help,” said Ed Stetzer, executive director of LifeWay Research. “But pastors need more guidance and preparation for dealing with mental health crises. They often don’t have a plan to help individuals or families affected by mental illness, and miss opportunities to be the church.”

According to the study, 68% of pastors said the church maintains a list of mental health resources for members, but only 28% of families said they were aware of those resources in the church.

The “Study of Acute Mental Illness and Christian Faith” also surveyed pastors about their own struggles with mental illness. Of those surveyed, 23% said they had experienced some kind of mental illness themselves, and 12% have received a diagnosis for a mental health condition, according to a report by LifeWay’s Bob Smietana.

Religious groups ask SCOTUS to settle marriage issue
The Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission joined several other religious groups earlier this month in asking the Supreme Court to settle the same-sex marriage issue. “Legal uncertainty is especially burdensome for religious organizations and religious believers increasingly confronted with thorny questions,” the friend-of-the-court brief stated in part.

To help answer some of those questions for Illinois pastors and church leaders, the Illinois Baptist State Association will host the “Elevate Marriage” conference October 16 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the IBSA Building in Springfield. Featured speakers include Kevin Smith, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Andrew Walker, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission; and Jill Finley, Bethel Baptist Church, Troy, Ill. Lunch is included, and registration is required; go to http://www.IBSA.org/Marriage.

Winter coming soon for religious minorities in Iraq
As cold weather draws nearer in northern Iraq, the situation for refugees fleeing ISIS grows more desperate, reports Baptist Global Response. “Shelter is lacking or inadequate,” said Abraham Shepherd, who directs work in the Middle East for BGR. “People are living in their cars, under doorsteps, in the open fields—with mainly tarps covering them. People know winter will come quickly on them, and they need to be ready—if ever you can be ready in those conditions.” Click here for more on how BGR is assisting refugees in the Middle East.

Abedini to pray for husband outside White House
Naghmeh Abedini, the wife of a pastor imprisoned in Iran, will pray outside the White House this week as part of a multi-site prayer vigil for her husband and other persecuted Christians. Saeed Abedini, an American citizen, was arrested in Iran in 2012. This week marks the second anniversary of his imprisonment.

Rapper Lecrae thankful for ‘voice into culture’
Christian rapper Lecrae appeared on “The Tonight Show” Sept. 18, sitting in with house band The Roots and rapping bits from his new (and Billboard #1) album between segments. “It’s a lot to take in,” he posted on his social media pages after the show. “I am so grateful for the support. I know I represent something much bigger than me. Thank you! I thank God for a voice into culture. I pray I use it wisely.” Read more at ChristianityToday.com.

Baptists almost ‘dance for joy’ over religious freedom ruling

THE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled June 30 in favor of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties, deciding that the companies do not have to cover abortion-inducing drugs in their employee health plans.

The 5-4 decision sets an important precedent for “closely held” companies (those owned by individuals or families) that object to what has become known as the abortion-contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act.

In the opinion, Justice Samuel Alito wrote that under the standard set by Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, “the HHS contraceptive mandate is unlawful.”

The_BriefingSouthern Baptist leaders responded quickly to the ruling. “It is an absolute victory for the proponents of religious liberty,” said SBC Executive Committee President Frank Page. “I am thankful that both common sense and conscience have seen a victory in a day where such victories are rare.”

Russell Moore, president of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, called the ruling an “exhilarating victory for religious freedom.” During the SBC Annual Meeting in Baltimore earlier this month, Moore presented an award to the Green family, who owns Hobby Lobby.

“As a Baptist, I am encouraged that our ancestors’ struggle for the First Amendment has been vindicated,” Moore said after the Court’s decision.

“This is as close as a Southern Baptist gets to dancing in the streets with joy.”

Read more at BPNews.net.

Court also rules on abortion clinic buffer zones
The Supreme Court struck down a 2007 Massachusetts law restricting pro-life advocates from congregating within 35-foot zones around abortion center entrances and driveways, Tom Strode of Baptist Press reports. Justices issued a 9-0 opinion on the matter, and Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that the law “imposed serious burdens” on free speech.

Marriage in limbo in several Upper Midwest states
Indiana has joined a list of states in which the definition of marriage is pending an appeal of a federal judge’s ruling. After Judge Richard Young struck down the state’s same-sex marriage ban June 25, a federal appeals court issued a stay two days later. Michigan and Wisconsin are in a similar situation, as seen in this map from USA Today (which doesn’t reflect the Indiana appeal). Same-sex marriage officially became legal in Illinois June 1, although some counties began issuing marriage licenses in the spring.

LifeWay survey: Domestic violence rarely preached about in church
Nearly three-fourths of Protestant pastors say domestic or sexual violence is a problem in their community, but 42% rarely or never preach on the topic. The survey, conducted by LifeWay Research and sponsored by Sojourners and IMA World Health, also found 74% of pastors know someone who has experienced domestic violence. Read more at LifeWayResearch.com.

Thief-turned-pastor shares testimony
George Aguilar, once an enemy of churches in Oklahoma, is now a pastor in his home country of El Salvador. After robbing from and vandalizing 11 churches in the Tulsa area, Aguilar came to Christ after one of the churches he stole from took him in. Read his story from The Baptist Messenger.

 

 

Tuesday_BriefingTHE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn

Nearly 400 Southern Baptist pastors met in Atlanta last week to pray for revival and spiritual awakening, doubling the attendance of a similar meeting last fall. Ronnie Floyd, an Arkansas pastor who organized the meetings, reflected on the most recent gathering on his blog by posting five reasons pastors pray:

1. They’re burdened for a great move of God.2. They’re aware they’re limited, and their churches are in need.
3. Pastors are concerned beyond words for our nation.
4. They believe the Great Commission (Jesus’ words in Matthew 28:18-20) can be fulfilled in their generation.
5. Pastors know we need to work together now more than ever before.

The pastors’ prayer meetings raise a question: What is the role of Christians in America’s next great awakening? Read the full story from the Illinois Baptist here.

Phone app calls people to pray for women considering abortion
What if there was a way to direct a woman considering abortion to a crisis pregnancy center, and simultaneously rally a national network of partners to pray for her? Online for Life, a nonprofit business, has developed online marketing techniques to connect abortion-minded women to CPCs, and an app to mobilize intercessors to pray for them. Read the story, first reported by the Southern Baptist TEXAN, in the January 20 issue of the Illinois Baptist (page 6).

Hannah_Gay‘God cured that baby,’ HIV specialist says. ‘I just happened to be standing close by.’
Hannah Gay, who describes herself as “the shiest pediatrician in America” has been in the spotlight for months after achieving a functional cure of a child with HIV. The continued lack of any replication of the virus indicates the first documented case of HIV remission in a child, The New England Journal of Medicine reported in October. Read the full story at BPNews.net.

Poll: Most pastors want diversity, but most churches aren’t diverse
“Having a racially diverse church remains more dream than reality for most Protestant pastors,” reports LifeWay Research about a study released just before the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s birthday. While 85% of senior pastors of Protestant churches say every church should strive for racial diversity, only 13% have more than one predominant racial or ethnic group in their congregation. Read more at LifeWayResearch.com.

The (church) dating game
A new game show will test the matchmaking prowess of church members competing to set up a single member of their congregation. “It Takes a Church,” set to premiere on GSN this year, will be hosted by singer Natalie Grant. “There are a growing number of singles in the church who do not want to be single,” Grant told The Christian Post. The show will visit a new church each week, and the winning “cupid” gets a donation made to the church in their name. The best part: GSN says the unmarried church members will be “unsuspecting” until camera crews arrive. Read more at ChristianPost.com.

Tuesday_BriefingUrges cooperation, unity around Baptist Faith & Message ahead of meeting in Houston

THE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn

The advisory committee formed by Southern Baptist Executive Committee President Frank Page to study the divide over Reformed theology in the convention released its final report a week before the SBC was scheduled to hold its annual meeting in Houston.

Page assembled the group last August, after an annual meeting in New Orleans where Reformed theology was a hot-button issue. Much of the conversation then centered on the need to work together despite theological differences; Page wanted the team to help him develop “a strategy whereby people of various theological persuasions can purposely work together in missions and evangelism.”

The group’s 3,200-word statement outlines nine areas of theology that all Southern Baptists can agree on, and then tackles areas of disagreement within those issues. For example:

“We agree that God is absolutely sovereign in initiating salvation, uniting the believer to Himself, and preserving the believer to the end, but we differ as to how God expresses His sovereignty with respect to human freedom,” the report reads.

Pointing to one of the tenets of Reformed theology, the statement continues, “We agree that the Holy Spirit working through the Gospel enables sinners to be saved, but we differ as to whether this grace is resistible or irresistible.”

But those tensions shouldn’t hinder cooperation, according to the advisory committee, which was made up of people from both sides of the theological divide. Rather, “we urge Southern Baptists to grant one another liberty in those areas within The Baptist Faith and Message (BFM) where differences in interpretation cause us to disagree.”

Later in the report, the group points to the BFM, as adopted in 2000, as the confession that “is to serve as the doctrinal basis for our cooperation in Great Commission ministry.”

A report on the group’s work is expected during next week’s annual meeting, which begins June 11. In its closing words, the statement offers a challenge that could be especially important in Houston:

“If we stand together in truth, we can trust one another in truth, even as we experience tension. We can talk like brothers and sisters in Christ, and we can work urgently and eagerly together.”

Read the full report at BPNews.net.

-With reporting by Baptist Press

Other news:

Baptists expected to discuss Boy Scouts at annual meeting
Southern Baptist ethicist Richard Land told CNN there is a “100% chance” there will be a resolution to disaffiliate with Boy Scouts during the upcoming Southern Baptist Convention in Houston. “…And a 100% chance that 99% of people will vote for it,” Land continued. “Southern Baptists are going to be leaving the Boy Scouts en masse.” Boy Scouts of America recently voted to allow gay-identifying youth to be members. As autonomous churches, Southern Baptist congregations can choose their own course of action when it comes to Boy Scouts, but many will likely find it difficult to comply with the new policy, SBC spokesman Sing Oldham told CNN. “With this policy change, the Boy Scouts’ values are contradictory to the basic values of our local churches.” Read more on CNN’s Belief blog.

What does Illinois’ non-action on same-sex marriage mean for the rest of the country?The St. Louis Post-Dispatch asked that question in the wake of Rep. Greg Harris’ refusal to call the same-sex marriage bill for a vote before the Illinois House adjourned its spring session May 31. David Smith, executive director of the Illinois Family Institute, told the paper, “The momentum has been stopped.

“It shows that it’s not as popular with people as the national media is telling us.”

Smith added that the non-action in Illinois could be a “bellwether” for other states, especially those that don’t lean as far to the left. As the Post-Dispatch pointed out, “If gay marriage fails here, how would a state like Missouri ever even flirt with it?” Read the full story here.

One-third of Americans trust God more during suffering
A new study by LifeWay Research found 33% of Americans trust God more during times of suffering that seems unfair. The research, conducted after the devastating May 20 tornado in Moore, Okla., also found 25% of people reported being “confused by God” during such times, and 16% say they “don’t think about God in those situations.” Read more at LifeWayResearch.com.