Whether one is tallying the gains and losses of the past year or weighing the prospects of the next, the great need for prayer is more evident than ever. This need is widely recognized if not always acted on. What is not generally recognized is the urgent need also for factual and interpretative data in Christian decision-making processes. This means research, which in our day has developed into a highly specialized and sophisticated field affording Christian churches and organizations a powerful new ally. We have hardly begun to tap its potential. Many of us are cast in the role of the student who hasn’t studied for an examination, yet dares to ask God to help him answer the questions.
Dr. David O. Moberg, a leading evangelical sociologist, has been particularly critical of the churches’ information gap. We want to second his motion that Christian leaders at all levels seize the initiative and engage in research immediately, and we appeal for hearty ayes among all who seek to advance the cause of the Gospel in contemporary culture.
A painful realistic picture of a typical business meeting in a congregationally organized local church highlights the problem. Dr. Moberg, who is head of the department of sociology and anthropology at Marquette University, used this illustration in a paper presented at an annual meeting of the National Sunday School Association Research Commission:
A proposal is made by a motion from the floor which is duly seconded and then discussed. Evidence brought into the deliberations may include impressionistic guesses as to what will happen if the program is or is not adopted, emotional speeches about the way possible plans might affect poor Widow Jones, appeals to proof-text Bible verses, ...1
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