The Kentucky Baptist Convention partnered with Ed Stetzer and Scott McConnell from LifeWay Research to conduct a formal study of the spiritual maturity of Southern Baptists in Kentucky. During the same period, LifeWay Research also conducted a similar study that focused on the Protestant Laity in America. The findings from the study of Kentucky Baptists closely mirrored the Southern Baptist portion of the national study, so I believe many can benefit from looking at the findings in our state.
The study uncovered areas of strength, where Kentucky Southern Baptists are doing well in discipleship, as well as challenging areas that will require the greatest attention from church leaders in the coming years. In the coming weeks and months, I will look at all areas of the study. Let’s begin today, by looking at some of the key findings from the study.
- Kentucky Baptists are weak in the relationship area. As a matter of fact, it was the lowest scoring area in the study. On a positive note, 71% of those surveyed said they had “developed significant relationships with people at their church.” Unfortunately, 50% of them said, “I generally do not share personal things, such as feelings, joys, struggles, and needs, with my Christian friends.” Only 18% them strongly agreed with the statement. (Please See Invite People to Lunch, How to Build Relationships, Part 1, and How to Build Relationships, Part 2 for practical relationship-building tips.)
- Sunday School is a key assimilation and discipleship tool, but attendance is weak. Only 33% of Kentucky Baptists said they attend a small group Bible study, study group, or cell group a total of four or more times each month. Those numbers seem low to me, but even if they are a little low, they disturb me greatly because assimilation and discipleship generally takes place in small groups. If people are not participating, then they are less likely to become connected and grow. The study pointed out that those who attended Sunday School at all, had an average spiritual maturity score of 73% on the study while those who did not attend Sunday School only scored 52%. (For expert help with Sunday School and small groups, please see Dr. Darryl Wilson’s blog, The Sunday School Revolutionary.)
We will continue looking at key findings in future posts.