5 Best Apps for Ministry Productivity

Sometimes our phone can be a big distraction when it comes to ministry and getting tasks done. Conversely, there are apps that can really bolster productivity if used in a strategic way. We asked several ministry leaders what apps they found beneficial and compiled a list.

Why VBS?

98,000 children attend VBS in baptist churches all over Louisiana. But what difference does it really make? LOTS.

You’ll be inspired by how young mother, Natasha Collins, and her family were impacted by VBS and the power of grace.

Wayne Hunt, pastor of Coteau Baptist Church, shares his perspective on why VBS is one of the greatest evangelistic opportunities that any church can do.  This video is a great promotion tool for churches needing to capture a vision of the impact of Vacation Bible School.

“We don’t do Vacation Bible School to grow our church. We do Vacation Bible School to reach our community for Christ.” -Wayne Hunt

Staying Connected

Brochure CoverWe all want to see church membership grow. But what makes members stick? This brochure offers ideas, stats, strategies and reminders that will keep your church added and keeping new people. Don’t allow your church’s momentum to be stifled by lack of planning, attentiveness, or prayer. This timely read will motivate your team to take that extra step to reach and retain their people in small groups and Sunday School.

Staying Connected

When the Storms Come

In Luke 6 Jesus makes it clear that it’s not “if” the storms come, but “when” the storms come.

For us who call Louisiana home, the storms have come – again.

Like many of you, I watched the radars that showed storm, after storm, after storm streaming from south to north. The colors on the radar screen were yellow, orange and dark green indicating heavy rains falling again and again over the same water-soaked areas.

Flood watches and flash flood warnings scrolled across the bottom of our screens and lit up our smart phones. Schools began to close as rising waters made many rural roads, and even main highways, impassable.

The recent storms did not generate the national media coverage of a Katrina, Rita or Ike, but they’ve affected a much wider area. Across the entire I-20 corridor in north Louisiana, down the western side of the state and stretching through central Louisiana to the north shore, the rain event of 2016 dumped over 20 inches of rain in some places causing rivers, streams and bayous to rise to historic levels.

According to recent Baptist Message reports, in excess of 7,000 homes have been affected across 28 parishes. In addition to our state disaster relief teams, teams from at least 10 other states are sending assistance. Feeding units are up and running and mud-out teams are waiting for waters to recede.

But I’ve learned this about Louisiana Baptists – when the storms move out, we move in. I’m reading story after story on social media about our churches collecting food, clothing and other necessities for their communities. Some churches are serving as shelters until the water recedes. The yellow shirts are there – again, bringing hope, help and sharing the love of God.

David Abernathy, who works alongside Louisiana Baptists Disaster Relief Coordinator Gibbie McMillan, said, “In my 24 years in Disaster Relief, I have never seen the churches rise to the occasion like they have with this flooding event. They are ministering and working together like never before.”

Thank you for rising to meet this growing need even faster than the flood waters overran their banks. To borrow a phrase from Paul, “I thank my God every time I think of you.”

So, what can you do?

  • Stay updated on the needs in your area through social media, our website (LouisianaBaptists.org/DisasterRelief) or the Baptist Message website (BaptistMessage.com).
  • Pray for the families affected, for the Disaster Relief volunteers and for God to provide comfort, wisdom and resources. Ask Him to draw people to Himself, even in the midst of this situation.
  • Participate. More volunteers are needed and emergency training sessions are being conducted. Check with your local association, our website, the Baptist Message website or our social media outlets for the latest information regarding training events in your area.
  • Donate. Many people have lost everything. Bring clothes, food, and cleaning supplies. Click here to give to our Disaster Relief efforts. Your Cooperative Program and Georgia Barnette gifts provide the equipment and infrastructure, but your cash gifts provide the specific supplies needed for each situation.

I wrote a small booklet following Katrina called “When Saints Go Marching In.” I’m reminded of that again as we deal with the aftermath of this calamity. It is heartbreaking to see so many lose so much. But at the same time, it is heartwarming to see the church, and specifically Louisiana Baptists, rise to the occasion and march in to meet the physical and spiritual needs of our communities.

May God bless and strengthen all of us during what will be a long recovery.

Experiencing God Resources

The 2016 Featured Doctrinal Study for Louisiana Baptists is Experiencing God.

We are challenging a new generation to rediscover the power and transformation of this movement.

Experiencing God guides learners to experience the kind of relationship with God through which they come to know and do His will.

Through examination of biblical and contemporary illustrations, participants will understand and apply seven realities of experiencing God. Churches will be helped to better function as the body of Christ as members understand how to experience God as a church (13 sessions).

Listen to Tom Blackaby talk about life, ministry and Experiencing God.

 

 

Dr. Tom Blackaby is the second son of Henry and Marilynn Blackaby and served for the past 8 years as the International Director for Blackaby Ministries International. In August, 2015, Tom became Senior Pastor of Brookswood Baptist Church in Vancouver, BC. He will continue to be available to speak as part of the BMI team.

When $2 Makes a Difference

I travel to India frequently. My wife started a home for abandoned little girls and we enjoy visiting our “children” a few times a year.

Several years ago, I was returning to the US from the Bangalore Airport. There is a “last stop” bathroom right by the gate to enter the plane, and so I made my way to the bathroom. When I entered the bathroom, there was a teenage boy who was the attendant in the bathroom.

All day long, he attended the bathroom, serving travelers as they made their way to exotic places. As I left the bathroom that day, I tipped the boy 100 rupees. It was about two dollars for me, but it was like a $100 bill for the bathroom boy. I got on my plane and felt pretty good about giving the boy a tip.

Two years later, I was back in India, waiting to exit the country at the same airport gate, and just as before, I decided to make one last stop in the bathroom. As soon as I walked in the bathroom …there was the boy!

Two years later, he was still in the bathroom. He had grown a little taller, a little fuller, but it was the same young man. And as soon as he saw me, he remembered me. I could not believe it. He remembered me! I knew he remembered me by his actions.

As I walked to the stall, he mopped my pathway for me. He ushered me to the door to the stall and, with gestures fit for a king, he took care of my every need. As I exited the stall, he was there waiting and ushered me to the sink.

As I washed my hands, he was supplying the soap. When it was time to dry, with great flair, he pulled the towels off the roller for me. I was royalty to this young man. And of course, he was also expecting a big tip.

Well, I was not ready to tip, so I had to go into my wallet. I wanted to tip him again. I gave him 150 rupees and he was so excited. I was so excited, and I left the bathroom with a smile on my face.

I did not get 10 steps from the bathroom when I heard, “Sir! Sir”and felt a strong tap on my shoulder. It was the young man.

I looked confused and he held out his hand. In his hand was my passport – and my airplane ticket! In my excitement to give a tip, I left my essential documents on the bathroom counter. WHEW!!! Was I relieved.

Moral of the story, it is always good to have friends in the Indian bathroom. The better moral is, we are to value those who serve, even from the lowliest of places. I am certain that Jesus wanted to impart some of that servant attitude into His disciples and into you and me.

Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him.

“What is it you want?” he asked.

She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.”

“You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”

“We can,” they answered.

Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.”

When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers.  Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:20-28

Five Basic Truths of Servanthood

  1. When we serve, we remove the temptation to compare ourselves to others.
  2. When we serve, we therefore avoid the correction of Jesus.
  3. When we serve, we nevertheless, must learn to be servants.
  4. When we serve, we release us into life with others.
  5. When we serve, we often have better stories to tell than we do when we are being served.

Top 6 Places in Louisiana to Plant a Church

I like to call south Louisiana the back pocket of the Bible Belt. There are still many cities and communities in need of new churches in one of North America’s most unique cultures.

Here’s the top places to plant a church in Louisiana.

  1. New Orleans
    Population: 956,000
    Only 2.1% attend an SBC Church. Only 11% are evangelical. 432,270 are unaffiliated with any church.
    Includes the Parishes of Orleans, Jefferson (Louisiana’s 2nd largest parish), St. Bernard, Plaquemine, and St. Charles. New Orleans is strategic for a lot of reasons: one of North America’s most influential ports, a cultural icon for the world. For Louisiana it makes up 20% of our population. For Southern Baptists, its one of only three Send Cities in the South.
    Contacts: New Orleans Baptist Associaton, Director of Missions Jack Hunter; George Ross, North American Mission Board Send City Coordinator for New Orleans.
  2. Acadiana
    Population: 675,000
    Only 1.8% attend an SBC church. Evangelical population is only 9%. 229,049 are unaffiliated with any church.
    Includes the cities of Lafayette, Youngsville (one of Louisiana’s fastest growing), Abbeville, Carencro, Opelousas, Breaux Bridge. This is true Louisiana – Cajun Country. The images most shared about Louisiana come from these areas – amazing food, gators, live oaks. It’s also home to Louisiana’s second largest University, University of Louisiana – Lafayette.
    Contacts: Evangeline Baptist Association, Interim Director of Missions Bert Langley.
  3. Baton Rouge
    Population: 630,000
    Only 2.0% attend an SBC Church. 23% are evangelical. 242,000 are unaffiliated with any church.
    Includes the cities of Baton Rouge, Prairieville, Gonzalez, Port Allen, Plaquemine and others. Louisiana’s state capital and the center of political life. It is becoming more influential in the business life of the entire I-10 corridor. Growing refugee populations have been noted and this year they will begin receiving Syrian refugees. Also, this area is home to one of America’s most influential universities – Louisiana State University.
    Contacts: Baptist Association of Greater Baton Rouge, Director of Missions Tommy Middleton.
  4. Bayou
    Population: 208,000
    Only 1.8% attend an SBC Church. Only 6% are evangelical. 70,672 are unaffiliated with any church.
    Includes the cities of Houma, Thibodaux, Grand Isle, Galliano, Cutoff, and others. One of the best places for fresh shrimp and salt water fishing in North America! Beautiful people and incredible culture. Also, very influential because of the thousands that work out of these communities in the drilling and oil production industry across the Gulf of Mexico. Home to Nicholls State University.
    Contacts: Bayou Baptist Association, Director of Missions Joe Arnold.
  5. I-12 Corridor
    Population: 541,234
    Only 4.8% attend an SBC Church. 25% are evangelical. 270,687 are unaffiliated with any church.
    Includes the cities of Denham Springs, Walker, Hammond, Ponchatoula, Covington, Mandeville, Slidell and others. Fast growing for years due to suburban life. Now robust corporate life developing. Home to Louisiana’s third largest university – South Eastern Louisiana State University in Hammond.
    Contacts: Eastern Louisiana Baptist Association, Director of Missions David Brown; Northshore Baptist Association, Director of Missions Lonnie Wascom.
  6. Lake Charles
    Population: 235,000
    Only 3.7% attend an SBC Church.
    Aw man! If I were 28 again and ready to start a church, I’d plant myself here! It includes the cities of Lake Charles, Sulphur, and Jennings. May be one of the fastest growing areas in the south right now with 17% growth over the last 18 months. They are expected to add 40,000 jobs over the next decade. It’s also home to McNeese State University.
    Contacts: Carey Baptist Association, DOM Bruce Baker.

Planters and partners are needed in all of these areas! Do you think God may be leading you to the Bayou? If so, contact us!

Find other info on Church Planting in Louisiana at LouisianaBaptists.org/ChurchPlanting.

Check out these resources to help you start your church planting journey:

Are You Being Financially Fair?

How do other churches like us compensate their staff?

Thom Rainer, CEO of LifeWay, writes, “In many churches, the pastor’s salary is a quiet issue. There is a sense of discomfort from both the pastor and the members when the topic is broached. Such discomfort is unfortunate, however, because a number of churches will not seek every year to make certain the pastor is paid fairly.”

Let’s work together to help churches through this process. We need your help!

Every two years, Louisiana Baptists team up with GuideStone, LifeWay, and other state conventions to bring you the biennial-SBC Compensation Survey.

This survey helps countless Southern Baptist churches each year as they determine an adequate and comparable salary for both new and current staff members.

The 2016 survey is easier to use than ever! Plus, those who enter their information will be entered into a drawing to win an iPad!

The skinny on the survey!

  • Absolutely confidential (no personal information is shared, EVER!)
  • Takes less than 10 minutes per person
  • Only updated every two years
  • Deadline is May 31, 2016

The survey is for all church employees: both ministerial and support staff. There are unique studies for pastors, associate ministers, secretarial, and custodial staff and each can be designated full-time or bi-vocational/part-time.

Please help us update the SBC Compensation Survey for 2016 – it’s simpler than EVER!

As a church leader, you could be a great help to us by taking the time to enter the information for your church’s staff members.

This year you will only have to enter your church’s information one time, and then you can enter all of your church staff’s information. This will make it faster and easier for your church to participate!

Would you like to dig deeper into this issue? Check out this podcast!

If you have questions, or if you need a printed copy of the survey, please contact JoLynn Chesser at 800.622.6549, ext. 292, 318.449.4292 or JoLynn.Chesser@LouisianaBaptists.org.

Ministers, You are Hope on Call

The phone rings, it is 2:19 on a Sunday morning.  “Pastor, can you come?”

There is a problem. 

You can’t say no, but there are a thousand thoughts immediately bouncing around in your head.  Of course, you think the worst as you put on a pair of jeans and grab a jacket.  Heart racing, car revving, you make your way to the scene.  The blue lights are flashing, and people are all milling around.  It is the worst scenario.

Sure enough, he has a gun.  It is up to the edge of his head.  His girlfriend has just departed, for good.  There is no reason to live.  What do you do?

This happened to me on one occasion.  And it was the most terrifying night I had ever spent in my life.  “Put the gun down, Daniel! Put the gun down Daniel!” It seemed so empty.

Thankfully it worked.  The gun was finally put down, and the scene was over.  Daniel is alive today and I am thankful.

Another night, another call.

“Pastor, can you come?” This time, the suicide had already been committed.  The estranged husband had shot himself in front of his wife.  She was left with three small children to manage from that day forward.

“Let me follow you home, Linda. I will make sure you get home safe.”  And then, I left her to tell her small children that their daddy had died.  I just left her there.  All alone, at 4:00 am to share the terrible news.

It is one of the greatest “mistakes” of my ministry life.

Oh, how I wished that I would have been trained.  Oh how I wish I knew what to do.

Out of those situations, I learned four important lessons.

  1.  I learned to expect the unexpected.  We can’t be completely prepared, but we can anticipate that people will find themselves in terrible situations. How are you going to respond to the unthinkable? You’d better think about the unthinkable because life and ministry is rarely without monthly if not weekly crises.
  2. I learned that ‘showing up’ is much better than not showing up.  Even if you don’t know what to do, being there can only be helpful. There is something powerful about presence. Presence is something you can’t delegate. But your presence could have a lasting impact, not only on those who need you there, but also the view of Jesus in the lives of those in crisis.
  3. I learned that you should never leave a grieving person alone.  Call someone, phone a neighbor, stay on site … anything is better than leaving. This is difficult, but after the initial ministry, your organization should have a plan and that plan should include more than you alone. You lost your superman cap back in 3rd grade, stop looking for it.
  4. I learned that TRAINING IS ESSENTIAL to being prepared. This is why we are offering a valuable training experience for chaplains and other ministers.

Next time, make sure you’re prepared.

Attend Hope on Call: Training for Pastors and Chaplains

Details

April 5th
Louisiana Baptist Building, Alexandria, La.
Conference Speaker: Greg Giltner – He retired from the Oklahoma City Police Department after over 26 years of service. He was a patrolman for 23 years and over 3 years as full-time department chaplain, holding the distinction of being the first commissioned officer to be named as Department Chaplain. Greg currently serves as the Chief of Police for Oklahoma Christian University in Oklahoma City. He is married to Vonne, a second grade school teacher, and they have 5 children and 3 grandsons.

 

10 Things Pastors of Evangelistic Churches Say

At this year’s Louisiana Baptists Evangelism Conference, I had the opportunity to facilitate a breakout with three men that lead churches with great evangelistic culture in Louisiana.

Jacob Crawford – Life Point, Mansura
Willis Easley – Christ’s Community, Denham Springs
Checkerz Williams – Celebration, LaPlace

These churches are responsible for 100’s of baptisms each year.

They are not mega-churches with endless resources, but churches in hard to reach parts of Louisiana, who have figured out a way to reach new people for Christ in their communities.

We threw out several questions designed to just get them talking, so that we could glean insights and be inspired. These men had never met each other before this conference, but it was interesting to hear how many of the same things came out of their mouths related to creating an evangelistic culture.

Here are some things they said over and over that have stuck with me:

  1. “It’s about casting vision.” Checkerz Williams said he uses the statement “Can you imagine what our community would be like if…?” to get people to see the possibilities.
  2. “We teach people, ‘It’s not about you.'” Willis Easley said at least monthly they tell people to turn to the person next to you and say “It’s not about you.” And interestingly enough the other two churches do the same thing!
  3. “Our church looks like our community.” Life Point is 60% white and 40% African-American, which matches the demographics of the community it is in. Celebration LaPlace is 55% African-American, 35% white and 10% Hispanic, which matches the demographics of the community it is in. Each of these churches are diverse, multi-ethnic churches. A lot of people talk about diversity and multi-ethnic ministry, but what I’m learning is that diversity and multi-ethnic church development is a product of an evangelistic culture.
  4. “We share the Gospel at every gathering.” Each church makes the gospel an important part of every service. Jacob Crawford said, “Never assume that everyone believes. Assume the opposite and share the gospel.” And these leaders go out of the way to share the gospel in ways that are reproducible and easily picked up by others. Willis Easley says, He uses the Roman Road EVERY time he shares the gospel from the pulpit, because it’s easily picked up by others.
  5. “We love people to Christ.” Service and outreach to the community is of course a major part of the ministries of each of these churches. Christ’s Community and Celebration Church both sponsor a big day of service at least annually, where everyone takes on outreach and evangelism projects together.
  6. “We started an additional service to reach more people.” Each of these churches have started multiple services to add capacity for reaching new people for Christ.
  7. “We encourage people to pray for friends that are not believers.” Each of these churches have a system in place for people to identify people in their relational network who are without Christ and pray for them. For Celebration it’s the FRAN list – Friends, Relatives, Associates, Neighbors. For Christ’s Church it’s called the High 5’s.
  8. “We network with community leaders.” Being involved in the community is important to each of these churches. “Building bridges not barriers” – Checkerz Williams.
  9. “We baptize people that become believers quickly.” Baptisms are down across the Southern Baptist Convention, so I was very curious as to what the process these churches have for baptism. Each said they baptize people very soon after they make a decision. Checkerz Williams says their baptistry at Celebration LaPlace is ALWAYS full and ready. Ushers at Life Point show up early and ask every Sunday, “How many do we have today?” in reference to baptisms. Their is an attitude of expectancy in these churches that people will be getting saved, so let’s get ready to baptize them.
  10. “We equip and train members of the church to do the work of evangelism.” It was clear that for these men, their role is to equip the people and groups to do evangelism. So, from modeling, to training, to keying on reproducible processes, the desire is for the entire church to own evangelism of the lost community.

Great conversation. What do you need to add to your vocabulary this year related to your church’s culture? These sayings will be a great start.

Watch the main sessions and get other resources from the Evangelism Conference here.