Assemblies of God attributes its growth to that approach. In 2008, when the church's Multiplication Network was formed, 247 new congregations were created; this year Pike reports that the network is on track to create more than 400 congregations in the United States, averaging 70 members each.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which was not represented in the study, has had proclaiming the gospel as a major tenet since its founding in 1830. In 2011, the LDS Church reported more than 55,000 full-time missionaries were preaching its gospel around the world, and in that same year there were 281,312 convert baptisms.
According to Stetzer, the research showed that the best indicator of spiritual maturity in the entire sharing Christ factor is praying for non-professing Christians.
In the study, 21 percent of churchgoers say that outside of church worship services, they pray every day for people they know who are not professing Christians. Twenty-six percent say they pray a few times a week. One-fifth (20 percent) say they rarely or never pray for the spiritual status of others.
"If you are going to be intentional about sharing your faith, praying for others is a great way to start," he said. "We often acknowledge the importance of prayer in people coming to faith in Christ, but we also found it has an impact on the person praying."
LifeWay's discipleship research project is designed to help pastors, churches and individuals measure spiritual development, as well as suggest ways to further that development. A key component of the project is the Transformational Discipleship Assessment, an online evaluation that measures spiritual maturity using the eight factors of biblical discipleship, which are Bible engagement, obeying God and denying self, serving God and others, sharing Christ, exercising faith, seeking God, building relationships and unashamed (transparency).
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