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Service to Others Leads to Spiritual Maturity, New Study Shows

A new study released by LifeWay Research shows that selfless service to God and others both impacts and is impacted by transformational discipleship. Fifty-eight percent of Protestant church attenders agreed that they were “intentionally putting their spiritual to use serving God and others.” Seventeen percent disagreed. Even more respondents say they look for opportunities to serve others in the community (60 percent), while 15 percent disagreed.

“Service doesn’t just happen in a church,” said Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research. “It must be modeled and encouraged. As we look at the breakdown of attributes and correlated disciplines, the data shows that praying expectantly, getting involved in the community and discipling others fosters a posture of serving. As such, disciples are serving in, through, and beyond their churches for the cause of Christ.”

Even so, the research showed just 39 percent of churchgoers agree or strongly agree that they “intentionally give up purchases so they can use that money for others.” Nearly an equal percentage disagreed (32 percent).

“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. The midrange responses on the Serving God and Others attribute reveals lots of good intentions and some occasional actions but much lower intentionality, consistency or sacrifice.”

“Growth leads to service and serving leads to growth—it’s deeply connected,” he explained.