Wheaton is often called the Harvard of evangelicalism. And, the Billy Graham Center is a denominational Switzerland for evangelism—a place (and an associated name) associated with bringing denomiations together for conversations about evangelism.
At LifeWay Research, we are excited about this partnership. And, we are here in Nashville, but needless to say, our team will spend more time in Chicago. And, I will be cutting back on other travel to do this (and to stay happily married).
I've been very impressed with Wheaton as a whole, not just the Billy Graham Center. With the leadership of Phil Ryken (president) and Stan Jones (provost), Wheaton has a great future, so I am happy to throw my lot in with them. And, I'm excited about the BGCE team and I look forward to getting to know them better.
As part of this partnership, we'll be doing some important new research and work in the area of evangelism, particuarly how churches and Christians are getting on mission to show and share the love to Jesus.
Here is the press release form Wheaon today:
The Billy Graham Center for Evangelism at Wheaton College (BGCE) has announced a one-year partnership with LifeWay Research to facilitate the advancement of biblically faithful evangelism.
The partnership includes the appointment of Dr. Ed Stetzer as BGCE Senior Fellow to provide consultation and leadership in collaboration with BGCE leaders in the direction of the Center. Stetzer, who is Executive Director of LifeWay Research, is a prolific author and well-known conference and seminar leader who has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, and has trained pastors and church planters on six continents.
Stetzer and the LifeWay Research team will also collaborate with Dr. Rick Richardson, Professor of Evangelism and Leadership at Wheaton College, to develop a national research project which will take a fresh look at the unchurched and churches that are most effectively reaching them. The research project will be released at a jointly hosted multidenominational conference in 2016.
“Ed is one of America’s leading advocates for communicating the gospel in faithful, effective ways that lead people to Jesus Christ,” said Wheaton College President Dr. Philip Ryken. “Because his research is geared to the actual practice of evangelism, he knows how to help ordinary Christians share their faith in everyday relationships. His appointment as Senior Fellow of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism is good news—not just for Wheaton, but also for the Church in North America.”
“Ed is a tremendous thought-leader and brings a wealth of knowledge and understanding of the church and cultural issues,” said Paul Ericksen, BGCE Interim Executive Director. “He has already been a friend of the Center and we are excited about the possibilities of this strategic new partnership.”
Stetzer added, “I look forward to working with Wheaton, the BGCE, and the multidenominational alliance we will form to put a greater focus on evangelism in the United States and around the world.”
Plans for the national conference where results of the research project will be shared will be released later this year.
LifeWay Research is a leading evangelical research firm in Nashville, Tenn. that conducts frequent research into today’s church and culture to equip church leaders with insight and advice that will lead to greater levels of church effectiveness. For more information, visit lifewayresearch.com.
The Billy Graham Center for Evangelism at Wheaton College trains and resources church and lay leaders to develop and mobilize Christians to share their faith and develop a lifestyle of evangelism. Since it opened nearly 35 years ago, the BGCE has played an integral part in providing training, inspiration, and networking in the task of world evangelism. More information about the BGCE is available at wheaton.edu/bgce.
Wheaton College (Wheaton, Ill.) is a coeducational Christian liberal arts college noted for its rigorous academics, integration of faith and learning, and consistent ranking among the top liberal arts colleges in the country.
Here is a bit from the letter Wheaton sent out and posted to its website:
The purpose of Dr. Stetzer’s appointment as BGCE Senior Fellow is three-fold:To provide consultation and leadership for the BGCE, in partnership with our team To pursue an emerging research project with Dr. Rick Richardson, our Professor of Evangelism and Leadership, and other collaborators that will take a fresh look at who are the unchurched, which churches are most effectively reaching them, and how are they doing it To organize and host a conference next year for evangelism leaders and pastors where the initial findings of the research will be disseminated to stimulate global evangelism.
This appointment involves a formal partnership with Dr. Stetzer’s home organization, LifeWay Christian Resources, one of the leading Christian publishing houses active today.
Dr. Stetzer has been a friend of the BGCE for a number of years. He teaches in our Evangelism & Leadership program at the Wheaton College Graduate School; has spoken at a number of BGCE-sponsored conferences and events; is a regular contributor to our Evangelvision blog; and has written articles for Evangelical Missions Quarterly, our quarterly publication that equips and inspires leaders in missions globally.
So, mark your calendars now for the upcoming national conference on evangelism. (OK, we don't really have a date yet, so cancel that—but we will announce that soon!)
Pray that we might make much of Jesus, together.