Twenty-eight Virginia Baptists received training toward becoming certified Transformational Church consultants during a 3 -day conference last week held at the Resource Center in Richmond. Led by LifeWay consultants Mike Smith and David Apple, the training was based on the book, Transformational Church, by Ed Stetzer and Thom Rainer.Subtitled Creating a new scorecard for congregations, the transformational church premise is that the traditional measures of success, bodies, budget and buildings, are no longer sufficient. New criteria must be established, says Smith, and it must be about a church changing its community for the better.LifeWay researchers contacted 7,000 churches to assess the scope of need and to determine which churches were successfully transforming their communities. From these, 250 pastors were contacted for in-depth conversations and 20,000 church members were surveyed. According to Smith, the research revealed 7 elements present in transformational churches that became chapters in the book:· Missionary Mentality· Vibrant Leadership· Relational Intentionality· Prayerful Dependence· Worship: Actively Embrace Jesus· Community: Connect People with People· Mission: Show Jesus through Word and ActionLifeWay researchers also developed an assessment tool to determine how strong each of the 7 elements are in the life of a congregation. Similar research and assessments have been used for some time in such strategies as Natural Church Development, but Smith says the scope of the LifeWay work sets it apart.“Transformational church is not a program,” Smith emphasizes. “It is a process of helping a church and guiding a church through transformation. It’s not just about what happens in the church, but about what happens also in the community.” Throughout the training event, the LifeWay leaders found ways to emphasize three underlying foundational principles that should be true in every church setting. Church members should be becoming more like Jesus, the church should be acting more like the body of Christ and communities should be impacted by God’s kingdom.For more information, call Ken Kessler of the Virginia Baptist Mission Board’s empowering leaders team at (800) 255-2428.