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Research Institute

The Research Institute serves as a bridge between the academic and practitioner worlds, producing credible research and discussion aimed at serving and equipping church leaders.

Through hosting academic gatherings, investing in long-term research projects, and publishing critical books and articles, RI serves as a hub for evangelism and mission research.

Holding in tension both theory and practice, the Research Institute facilitates the development of research-based insights and resources that catalyze innovation and equip the Church to fruitfully respond to the challenges and opportunities it faces in evangelism and mission.


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Key Projects and Initiatives

Read some of the WCBGC Research Institute’s recent work.


the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center partnered with the Study of the Work and Ministry of the Holy Spirit Today to interview those who experienced the revivals first-hand. With over sixty interviews, this oral history of the movement aims to help people understand what it felt like to be in the midst of such a dynamic and complex movement.

Formation for Mission

Created in partnership with the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center, Formation for Mission is a research-informed guide that empowers those working with Christian adolescents and young adults, blending theological insights and practical advice to nurture their spiritual growth and mission-driven purpose in today’s world.

You Found Me

Researcher and practitioner Rick Richardson unveils the findings of the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center Research Institute’s innovative studies on the unchurched.

Liftin Symposium

Session 1: Contending for the Gospel Truth in an Age of Radical Subjectivism

In this session, apologists and academics Sam Chan and John Dickson tackle the challenge of truth in our society which is increasingly defined by the personal and subjective. The aim of this session is to help thoughtful Christian leaders understand not only the challenges posed by subjectivism and the loss of truth but the opportunities that arise for the gospel.

Dr. Sam Chan

Born in Hong Kong, Dr. Sam Chan holds both an MD from the University of Sydney and a PhD in Theology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Dr. Chan works at City Bible Forum as a public speaker with his books winning a range of awards, including Christianity Today’s Book of the year and Outreach Magazine Resource of the year. These books include Evangelism in a Skeptical World, How to Talk About Jesus (Without Being THAT Guy), and Topical Preaching in a Complex World.

Dr. John Dickson

Dr. John Dickson serves as the Jean Kvamme Distinguished Professor of Biblical Evangelism and Distinguished Scholar in Public Christianity, having previously held several higher education appointments internationally, including as a Distinguished Fellow and Senior Lecturer in Public Christianity at Ridley College (Melbourne) as well as Lecturer and Research Associate in the Department of Hebrew, Biblical and Jewish Studies at the University of Sydney. In addition to his scholarship, Dr. Dickson is a leading voice in apologetics for over thirty years, publishing more than 20 books. He is also the founder and continuing director of Undeceptions, an organization that seeks to promote truth and deep Christian thought in skeptical times

Session 2: Contending for Gospel Mission in Christian Leadership

In this session, Gavin Ortlund and K.A. Ellis address the key need for Christian leadership at the core of our mission. This session aims to help leaders understand how to build unity around a shared vision before turning to the necessary courage for pastors in facing an increasingly divisive and polarized world.

Dr. Gavin Ortlund

Dr. Gavin Ortlund from Ojai, California. In addition to serving as the senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Ojai, Dr. Ortlund is a prolific author with now seven books. His most recent being  Why God Makes Sense in a World That Doesn’t: The Beauty of Christian Theism (2021). 

As we hit COVID in early 2020, Dr. Ortlund’s book  Finding the Right Hills to Die On: The Case for Theological Triage, was one of many critical voices helping Christians navigate the polarization in the Church and think biblically about disagreement. 

K.A. Ellis

A Ph.D. Candidate in Church History at Oxford Center for Mission Studies in Oxford, England, K.A. will be defending her dissertation in the coming months. Her research explores Christian endurance from society's margins, particularly in places where it's most difficult to live the Christian life. Putting research into practice, K.A. has traveled globally with International Christian Response to connect local and global Christians while studying and advocating for global religious freedom.


Session 3: Contending for Gospel Imagination in the Public Square

In this session, Karen Swallow Prior outlines the importance of Gospel Imagination in how we understand and engage the public square. In aim of this session is to help leaders understand the ways culture and society informs our ideological division, rethinking the ways we use language to proclaim and demonstrate the gospel. 

Esau McCaulley

Esau McCaulley, PhD is an author and associate professor of New Testament at Wheaton College. His writing and speaking focus on New Testament theology, African American Biblical interpretation, and Christian public theology. His new memoir How far to the Promised Land, questions the narrative of exceptionalism that he, and other Black survivors, are conditioned to give when they “make it” in America. His book Reading While Black: African American Biblical Interpretation as an Exercise in Hope won numerous awards, including Christianity Today’s book of the year. Esau is a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times. His writings have also appeared in places such as The Atlantic, Washington Post, and Christianity Today.

Dr. Karen Swallow Prior

Dr. Karen Swallow Prior is the author of On Reading Well (2018) and co-editor of Cultural Engagement: A Crash Course in Contemporary Issues(2019). She is host of the popular podcast Jane and Jesus and a monthly column for Religion News Service. Her writing has appeared at Christianity Today, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, First Things, Vox, Relevant, Think Christian, The Gospel Coalition, Books and Culture and other places. Dr. Prior is also a contributing editor for Comment, a founding member of The Pelican Project, a Senior Fellow at the Trinity Forum, a Senior Fellow at the International Alliance for Christian Education, a Senior Fellow at the L. Russ Bush Center for Faith and Culture and is a former member of the Faith Advisory Council of the Humane Society of the United States. 

Session 4: Contending for the Gospel Mission in this Generation

In this session, Alan Noble and Charlie Dates will focus on the unique challenges and opportunities that face the next generation of Christians as they emerge to shape and advance gospel mission. The aim of this session is to help leaders understand the values and tensions that animate the next generation, providing leaders with tools not only to reach but equip and empower young voices to advance gospel mission.

Dr. Alan Noble

Dr. Alan Noble is Associate Professor of English at Oklahoma Baptist University and the editor-in-chief of Christ and Pop Culture. His two most recent books, Disruptive Witness: Speaking Truth in a Distracted Age (2018) and You Are Not Your Own: Belonging to God in an Inhuman World(2021), address the challenges of faith and identity within the new context of a digital world. A crisis few theologians understand or dare to weigh in on, Dr. Noble’s work has proven valuable in helping Christians understand the new pathways of communication and consumption that are quickly defining our lives. 

Dr. Charlie Dates

Dr. Charlie Dates is the pastor of Salem Baptist Church of Chicago as well as Progressive Baptist Church on Chicago’s southside, having graduated with Ph.D in historical theology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Now an Affiliate Professor at TEDS in addition to Truett Seminary at Baylor, Dr. Dates has become a critical voice for the church in recent years as we have grappled with the implications of the gospel in society. Dr. Dates is a contributing author to Letters To A Birmingham Jail and Say It: Celebrating Expository Preaching in the African American Tradition and his first single-authored book on Christianity and Social Justice is forthcoming. 


Entrepreneurial Evangelicalism

Entrepreneurial Evangelism Report

Evangelical and non-evangelical voting & views of politics in America

Pastor views on prison ministry