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McGavran Award

When warranted, the "Donald A. McGavran Award for Outstanding Leadership in Great Commission Research" is bestowed at the Annual Conference's President's Banquet to a person who has exemplified scholarship, intellect and leadership in the research and dissemination of the principles of effective disciple-making as originally developed by Donald A. McGavran.

Donald Anderson McGavran (1897–1990) was the founder of the School of World Mission and Church Growth at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena California. A third generation missionary in India, McGavran spent much of his life trying to identify and overcome social barriers to Christian conversion.

McGavran's magnum opus, Understanding Church Growth, was voted by Christianity Today magazine as the second most influential book in the 20th century. The book substantially changed the methods by which missionaries identify and prioritize groups of persons for missionary work, and stimulated the birth of the Church Growth Movement.

McGavran developed his church growth principles after rejecting the popular view that mission was "philanthropy, education, medicine, famine relief, evangelism, and world friendship' and become convinced that good deeds – while necessary – 'must never replace the essential task of mission: discipling the peoples of the earth". (Donald A. McGavran, 'My Pilgrimage in Mission', International Bulletin of Missionary Research 10, no.2 (April 1986): 53-58, p. 54.)

The Donald McGavran Leadership Award was originally conceived by C. Peter Wagner in 1988, to encourage and affirm outstanding contributions to the field of effective evangelism. McGavran, still living at the time, selected the first recipient—Dr. Win Arn. Since then, the Great Commission Research Network has selected individuals to receive this noteworthy award.

Former Recipients

  • Thom Rainer

  • Bill Easum

  • Bob Whitesel

  • Waldo Werning

  • John Vaughan

  • Charles "Chip" Arn

  • Carl George

  • Ed Stetzer

  • Steve Wilkes

  • Rick Warren

  • John Ellas

  • Ray Ellis

  • R. Daniel Reeves

  • Kent R. Hunter

  • Gary L. McIntosh

  • Nelson Searcy

  • Alan McMahan

  • Art McPhee

  • Eddie Gibbs

  • George G. Hunter III

  • George G. Hunter III

  • Flavil R. Yeakley, Jr.

  • Elmer Towns

  • Bill Sullivan

  • Bob Logan

  • Wilbert S. McKinley 

  • J.D. Payne

  • John Michael Morris

  •  William H.  Day, Jr.

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