Archives For survey

Briefing

Survey: Church attendance linked to higher levels of happiness
Church participation leads to more happiness and civic engagement, according to Pew Research’s analysis of surveys from the U.S. and 25 other countries. Religious affiliation without participation does not lead to the same positive outcomes, Pew found.

Young adults keep Christian label; fewer ‘devout’
Most young adults who attended church as teenagers say they believe in God today, but fewer consider themselves devout Christians, according to a LifeWay Research study released Jan. 31. And some say they believe in God but are uncertain of Christianity.

Boy Scouts officially accepting girls
The Boy Scouts of America officially changed their name Feb. 1 and began accepting girls in all scouting programs. Troops, however, will continue to be single gender, the organization has said. Maybe a quick quote from the opposition?

Asia Bibi finally free to leave Pakistan
On January 29, the Supreme Court of Pakistan upheld its decision to acquit Asia Bibi. In one of the most high-profile Christian persecution cases in the past decade, Bibi spent eight years in prison convicted of blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad—which is a crime punishable by death in the Islamic Republic—until Pakistan’s Supreme Court rejected her conviction last October. Bibi was the first Christian woman in the country to be convicted of blasphemy and to have her case go all the way to the Supreme Court.

Who is most ‘Bible engaged’ in the U.S.?
Amid cultural shifts in beliefs and reading habits, African Americans consistently outrank other racial groups for their reliance on the Word. Last year, the American Bible Society (ABS) once again named African Americans “the most Bible engaged in the US.” They are more likely to own a Bible—93 percent of African Americans do, versus 82 percent of Americans overall—and more than twice as likely to say Bible reading is crucial to their daily routine, according to the society’s 2018 State of the Bible report.

Sources: BP News (2), Christian Headlines, Christianity Today (2)

What churches need

Lisa Misner —  February 4, 2019

By Nate Adams

Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt once starred in a box office hit that bore the simple but provocative title, “What Women Want.” The movie’s premise, of course, is that men can be notoriously oblivious to understanding what women want. But after Gibson’s character receives an accidental shock from a hairdryer, he finds he can hear what the women around him are thinking. And that makes all the difference.

One of the serious take-aways from this romantic comedy is that we would all better understand what others want or need if we would just ask, and listen. None of us can hear one another’s thoughts, and most people are reluctant to talk openly about what they really need, at least until someone asks directly.

That’s one reason IBSA remains committed to an annual survey of churches each fall. It’s our way of asking churches what they really need, and hoping they will tell us, so we can help.

Our annual survey finds we have a lot in common.

Of course, Illinois Baptist churches are diverse, as we rediscover every year. From north to south and large city to rural community, each church’s size, setting, age, leadership, worship style, and culture make it unique, and deserving of individual consideration and attention.

At the same time, we found again this year that a handful of key needs appear consistently in many churches. For example, when asked what kind of assistance a church needs most, evangelism consistently again led the list of responses, followed by leadership development, and then spiritual renewal.

When asked what age groups churches need most assistance trying to reach, respondents consistently say they need help reaching college age and young adults, followed by students or youth. When asked about missions, churches ask for more help engaging in missions opportunities nearby, in Illinois, compared with international or North American mission fields.

We also ask in the survey how churches prefer to receive assistance or communication. Not surprisingly, churches prefer personal contact when possible, followed by e-mail and then phone. And recently, churches’ reported use of digital communications such as IBSA’s website or social media channels have actually slightly surpassed print communication channels, though both are still valued.

Every year we read and digest carefully this input from hundreds of churches. We seek to set our priorities and budget, and even hire and structure our staff, around the needs churches express. Here are two “take-aways” from this year’s survey I would like to communicate to every IBSA church:

First, you are not alone. Your church’s needs and even its frustrations are shared by many other churches. So don’t allow those needs to make you feel isolated. Use them as an opportunity to reach out and connect with other churches and leaders who have experienced the same needs, and who can advise or help.

Call IBSA for a connection or a consultation. Ask us to recommend a church that has found a way to meet the kind of need you have.

Second, choose to face your needs. Don’t just agonize over or lament them. Throughout the Bible, when God sees a need or hears a cry for help, he raises up a person, and that person leads others in a process that meets the need. Just ask Moses, or Gideon, or Solomon, or Nehemiah, or Jesus’ disciples, or the early church apostles. Paul promised the Philippian church, and us, that God would supply all their needs through his own riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

So what person and what process might God use to help meet your church’s greatest needs this year? He actually can read your mind. But he loves it when we admit our needs, and humbly ask for his help.

Nate Adams is executive director of the Illinois Baptist State Association. Respond at IllinoisBaptist@IBSA.org.

THE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn

Survey shines light on Scripture habits
A recent LifeWay Research study found few churchgoers are daily engaging in personal reading and study of Scripture. When asked how often they personally (not as part of a worship service) read the Bible, 19% of those surveyed said every day; 26% said a few times a week, 14% said once a week, 22% said once a month or a few times a month, and 18% said rarely/never.

“Bible engagement has an impact in just about every area of spiritual growth,” said Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research. “You can follow Christ and see Christianity as your source of truth, but if that truth does not permeate your thoughts, aspirations and actions, you are not fully engaging the truth.

“God’s Word is truth, so it should come as no surprise that reading and studying the Bible are still the activities that have the most impact on growth in this attribute of spiritual maturity,” Stetzer said. “As basic as that is, there are still numerous churchgoers who are not reading the Bible regularly. You simply won’t grow if you don’t know God and spend time in God’s Word.”

Read more survey findings at LifeWayResearch.com.

Texas Baptists affirm marriage
The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC) is promoting a petition that affirms the biblical definition of marriage and asks President Barack Obama to reconsider his support of gay marriage. In a recent chapel service at Southwestern Seminary, SBTC President Terry Turner urged professors and students to sign the petition, online at sbtexas.com/marriagepetition. Turner, an African American pastor, also rejected the notion that homosexuality is a civil rights issue.

“I saw what my ancestors went through, how they fought against the Jim Crow laws because of the color of their skin,” Turner said. “I saw how they fought to become citizens as black Americans through the civil rights movement. And it was about the color of the skin. It was about the way a person was really born. But I have got news for you today. God made us all male or female, regardless of the color of our skin. And when homosexuals try to jump on the civil rights movement, they are missing it. And it just burns me up, because sexual preference has never been a civil rights issue.” Read the Baptist Press story here.

Retailer files suit against mandate
Evangelical-owned Hobby Lobby has filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration’s contraceptive/abortion mandate, becoming the largest business yet to take action against the rule. Although Hobby Lobby’s insurance plans cover contraceptives that are preventative in nature, the company won’t cover anything that causes a chemical abortion, said founder and CEO David Green. “… We simply cannot abandon our religious beliefs to comply with this mandate.” Read the full story at Baptist Press.

Athletes share faith at iamsecond.com
NFL quarterbacks Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy speak candidly about their faith in Jesus Christ at iamsecond.com, a website that gives athletes, actors, musicians and non-celebrities a chance to say why they’re “second” in their lives (and why Christ is first). “The minute that you start to think that you’re first, and He’s second, and that what you think, and what you have planned in your mind, is more important than what He has planned for your life, that’s the minute your life starts to go the wrong way.” Watch more videos at iamsecond.com.