Friday, April 9, 2010

Introduction To Transformational Church

By Bruce Raley

The Factory in Franklin, Tenn., sat vacant – the shell of an old manufacturing plant and a memory in the minds of longtime area residents. Built in 1929, The Factory originally housed Dortch Stove Works, a manufacturer of home heating stoves. Throughout the following decades, The Factory housed nationally known manufacturers. Then, The Factory sat empty for many years. It appeared the best days of The Factory were in the past. However, a few years ago a transformation took place. Developers saw hope and possibilities. The Factory was given new life.

The Factory today is a 12-building dining, shopping and entertainment complex listed in the National Register of Historic Places. This previously decaying, dilapidated manufacturing plant underwent a transformation into a vibrant, bright, people-filled attraction.

Over the past decades, much has been written and spoken about the declining state of the church. Just like The Factory, some have proclaimed the best days of the church are past.

But even in the midst of such declarations, transformation is occurring in churches across our nation. These churches are alive with anticipation, hope and impact. From coast to coast, churches of various sizes – urban and rural, old and new – are being transformed by the power of God and, as a result, are seeing transformation of individual lives and, ultimately, their communities.

Beginning in 2008, LifeWay engaged in one of the largest and most significant research projects ever conducted on the American church. Theologically sound and accurately researched, the findings revealed and confirmed transformation taking place in churches across the nation. The findings proclaimed, “There is hope! Hope for the American church! Hope and possibilities!”In response to the research, LifeWay is introducing Transformational Church in the summer of 2010. This introduction is the beginning of a multi-year intentionality to assist and resource churches to become transformational.

Transformational Church is not another program. It is not a one-size-fits-all strategy. It is not a formula for immediate results. Transformational Church is a guide to assist churches as they examine where God is working and identify the possibilities for today and the future. Specifically, a transformational church is characterized by:

  • People looking more like Jesus.
  • Congregations acting more like His body.
  • Communities reflecting more of His Kingdom.
In essence, a transformational church is seeing transformation in people’s lives, the church and the community.

In the coming months, Transformational Church will be unveiled through a book by LifeWay President Thom Rainer and LifeWay Research Director Ed Stetzer. The book will reveal data from the research, but more than research, you will read incredible stories from churches experiencing transformation.

In addition, Rainer, Stetzer and I, along with Philip Nation, director of ministry development for LifeWay Research, will be speaking and leading discussions about how churches can become transformational during various Sunday school and 4G events at Ridgecrest and Glorieta conference centers this summer. Online assessments, leader resources and opportunities for church leaders to be trained as Transformational Church consultants are all coming soon.

Transformational Church proclaims hope and praise in what God is doing, and what He will do through our lives and churches.

Go to Transformational Church and Transformational Church Research for more information.

Bruce Raley
Director, leadership and evangelism training and events
LifeWay Christian Resources

Until next time...share the journey and enjoy the ride!