Survey Finds Baptists See Education as the Third Top Need

( [email protected] ) May 20, 2004 02:25 PM EDT

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- According to a survey conducted by LifeWay Christian Resources, adults found education and learning as their third most needed area from their churches.

The survey asked 16,000 adults and youth attending 29 conferences and events sponsored by the Southern Baptist last year about what kind of help they need most from their churches. Education being the third, the number one need expressed by both groups was help with personal needs in terms of spiritual, emotional, physical, and social.

Participants of the survey were given six areas of their lives to choose from: Church; Education/Learning; Home and Family/Relationships; Personal needs (spiritual, emotional, physical, social); World/Culture; Work/School.

Adults chose Home and Family/Relationships as their number two area, fourth for World/Culture, fifth for work/school, and sixth church.

“Both adults and youth place Home and Family/Relationships as top areas in which they could use some help,” said LifeWay’s Scott McConnell, who directed the survey. “Students place more emphasis on school as an area where they could use help but, interestingly, adults place work, the response most equivalent to school, as number five.”

According to the Annual Church Profile (ACP), compiled by LifeWay reports, more than 2 million Southern Baptists are actively enrolled in some sort of discipleship ministry, which encourages spiritual growth through studies. Discipleship ministries are available to churches to address various needs in the life faith.

“A church might call this ministry area discipleship, or they might call it small-group studies, equipping studies, personal growth studies, video studies or any number of names, but it’s still about helping individuals grow in their relationship with and knowledge of Christ,” McConnell said.

Similar result came out in a previous survey, which conducted 1,500 pastors and ministers of education asking about the purposes of their churches’ discipleship ministries. The leaders referred to fulfilling personal needs as the main purpose of discipleship.

69 percent of the survey participants said a purpose of their discipleship ministry was to inspire and motivate people in their Christian walk. 63 percent said it was to provide opportunity for discussion; 61 percent said to encourage personal daily Bible reading/study; 57 percent said to foster life application (to give members a way to apply biblical principles to their daily lives); and 56 percent said to train people to share the Gospel.

“It’s interesting to note that all five of these discipleship purposes encourage personal growth -- from motivation to building daily habits and skills to encouraging other group members,” McConnell said. “Then, when you look at what the people in the pew -- both adults and youth -- say they want their churches’ help with, it’s clear that these needs can be met through discipleship studies.”