In 2009, Lifeway Research began one of the largest and most comprehensive research projects of its kind ever conducted on the American church. In particular, the research focused on churches that were experiencing transformation in the lives of individuals, the church and the community.

Through both quantitative and qualitative research of thousands of protestant churches, common elements and principles were discovered as essential toward transformation. In response, Dr. Thom Rainer and Dr. Ed Stetzer compiled the discoveries in the book Transformational Church. A DVD/CD discussion pack was also produced to assist church leadership groups to walk through Transformational Church together and contextualize it to each church's unique environment.

A Transformational Church is defined as a church where:

  1. People become more like Jesus

  2. The church acts more like the body of Christ

  3. The community becomes more of a reflection of the Kingdom of God.

Through the research, seven common elements were discovered in these churches:

  1. Missionary mentality

  2. Vibrant leadership

  3. Prayerful dependence

  4. Relational intentionality

  5. Worship

  6. Community

  7. Mission

While each of these elements can be differentiated, they cannot be separated. These elements working together provide strength in the Transformational church.

In order to assess the congregation in relation to the seven Transformational Church elements, a Transformational Church Assessment Tool was developed. This on-line assessment gauges the perceptions of the church members concerning each of the seven elements though a graded scale. The assessment is approximately 80 questions. Upon completion of the assessment, reports are available for church leadership to assist in interpreting the results.

There are assessment tools available for churches of all sizes:

Understanding many churches may need a set of "outside eyes and ears" to assist them in taking the assessment, analyzing it, and making recommendations for future actions to move toward transformation, church consultants are being trained. Upon completion of training, consultants can achieve certified Transformational Church Consultant Status after two successful consultations.