NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Canadian churchgoers say helping those in need outside of the church is an important part of their faith and often volunteer without being asked, according to a study conducted by Lifeway Research.
The “Transformational Discipleship” study from Nashville-based Lifeway Research looked at the spiritual habits and attitudes of 1,000 pastors and 4,000 Protestant churchgoers in North America.
They included 1,068 Canadian lay people who go to church at least once a month.
The study shows that two-thirds (63 percent) agree with the statement, “I intentionally try to serve people outside my church who have tangible needs.” And almost half (45 percent) say they are using their spiritual gifts to serve God and others.
“Serving God and Others” is one of eight attributes of discipleship that consistently show up in the lives of spiritually mature believers, according to Lifeway Research.
“Service doesn’t just happen in a church,” said Ed Stetzer, president of Lifeway Research. “It must be modeled and encouraged.”
The survey found that Canadian Protestants seem less likely to give money than time. About a third (33 percent) agree with the statement, “I intentionally give up certain purchases so I can use that money for others.” Thirty-nine percent disagree.
“Service and activism have become popular in our culture today, especially among younger adults,” Stetzer said. “However, most of this benevolent activity is fairly low-level involvement that does not cost the giver much.”
Researchers also found a link between service and other areas of the Transformational Discipleship study.
Those who score high on the “Serving God and Others” attribute also score high on sharing their faith in Christ and on Bible engagement, said Stetzer.
To help pastors, churches and individuals measure spiritual development, Lifeway Research used the study’s data to develop a questionnaire for believers, called the Transformational Discipleship Assessment (TDA). This online evaluation delivers both individual and group reports on spiritual maturity using the eight attributes of biblical discipleship. The TDA also provides practical suggestions for continued spiritual development.
For more information, visit LifewayResearch.com. The TDA is available at TDA.Lifeway.com.
Methodology: Lifeway Research surveyed a representative sample of 1,086 Canadian adults as part of the Transformational Discipleship study. Participants attend a Protestant church at least once a month. The sample included churchgoers from a range of Protestant denominations, including mainline and evangelical churches. Interviews were conducted in English, Spanish and French. A demographically balanced online panel was used for the interviewing. Surveys were conducted Oct. 14-22, 2011.