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Mainline Evangelism Project and the Unbinding the Gospel Project

The Mainline Evangelism Project was a four year research initiative funded by a grant from the Lilly Endowment. This initiative was designed to identify and analyze highly effective examples of evangelism by congregations in seven mainline denominations. The project focused primarily on the motivations for mainline evangelism across a broad geographical, cultural and theological spectrum, as well as the means, structures and systemic realities that encourage evangelism.

The Project's architect and director, Martha Grace Reese, JD, MDiv., has published a practical book for congregational groups and pastors, Unbinding the Gospel: Real Life Evangelism, 2nd Edition (Chalice Press), as well as three more books to help with more intensive congregational adoption of the effective practices and haibts of prayer and faith-sharing (Unbinding Your Heart, Unbinding Your Church, and Unbinding Your Soul - collectively known as the Unbinding Series, Chalice Press).

A detailed sociological report of the Mainline Evangelism Project's survey of the beliefs and practices of highly effective evangelistic congregations, by Jacqueline E. Wenger, Martha Grace Reese and J. Kristina Tenny-Brittian, is now available.

After widespread excitement with the Unbinding Series, the Lilly Endowment awarded another major, five year grant, that has helped 5,000 churches work with the Unbinding Series.  These churches, and 500 congregations who participated in a full, two-year congregational process, have led to great discoveries about the best ways to increase spiritual and numerical growth into mainline churches with minimal conflict.  

Churches (in decline for decades) averaged 12-15% increase in year-over-year worship attendance. See the Best Practices document (link at the bottom of this page) for how to do this in your church!