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"It must further be asked if Lifeway made a mistake by getting into the research marketeering business..."

Yes, indeed they did, and the evidence is mounting:

(1) The "Breakout Churches" research a few years ago found startlingly few (13 out of 50,000) churches to be effective. Not only is that too small a number from which to draw meaningful conclusions, but the "good" churches are clustered in certain locations and have predictable demographics in common. From this quantitative analysis they switched to qualitative analysis looking at subjective matters and connecting dots in a manner that can best be described as "creative speculation" rather than "rigorous research."

(2) Barna's research totally contradicts Lifeway with regard to Calvinism.

(3) We are now officially speculating on which public personalities are saved and which are lost. I think Lady Gaga is lost. I'm pretty sure Tim Tebow is saved. I'm terribly confused at this point about Mel Gibson. However, as Howell points out clearly, only God truly knows, making this exercise pointless and futile.

While the GCR encourages Baptists to consider eliminating so-called "bloated bureaucracies" from our CP ministries, why not pull the plug on this research arm? Just because it's not CP does not mean that Baptist dollars are not being used to prop it up. We should be good stewards of non-CP resources as well.

Chris Gilliam

Evidenlty our focus is in the wrong place. What a catastrophic waste with residual results to follow.


Methinks Howell Scott doth protest too much. By the way, I say that a poll like this is useful to the pastors who wish to DISSUADE their congregations from viewing faith to a political lens. It would make an excellent sermon point. For example: "75% of pastors state that George W. Bush is a Christian despite Bush's multiple public declarations in support of religious pluralism and in opposition to inerrancy. If you ask me, this says more about the faith of 75% of our pastors than it does about the faith of George W. Bush!" Or something along those lines. Information gathering is not the problem. Instead, the problem is the motive for gathering the information, and how information is used once it is gathered. And by the way, Christians should not be overly concerned with "our image." The Bible tells us that we will be despised and rejected just as was our Master and Lord Jesus Christ. Instead, we should be concerned with our private and public adherence to the Bible. Anyone who is concerned about our "image problems" need to go read the narrative of Stephen's getting stoned to death for the gospel in Acts for a reality check. And yes, I do include Stetzer and Rainer among those who need to go check their scriptures again, and I will add Howell Scott in too.

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