Pray for Evangeline Baptist Association

Associational Mission Strategist: David Carlton
  • Covers Lafayette, Vermillion, St. Martin and Iberia Parishes.
  • Major towns are Lafayette, New Iberia, Abbeville, Youngville.
  • 404,977 souls reside in Evangeline Association.
  • 12.7% of the population, or 51,515, are evangelicals.
  • 141,696 or 35% of the population are listed as none’s or non-affiliated with any church.
  • Only 5,898, or 1.5% of the population, attended the 45 SBC churches in Evangeline Baptist Association in 2018.
  • 15 new SBC churches have been planted in Evangeline Association since 2010.
  • Church to Population ratio is 1 to 8,999. 97 new churches would be needed to get to our statewide ratio of 1 to 2,850. 157 new churches would be needed to get to NAMB’s suggested ratio of 1 to 2,000.
Pray for the pastors and churches of Evangeline Association. Pray for people to hunger for the gospel. Pray for believers who will share the gospel with neighbors, friends, and family members. Pray for Church Planters, RePlanters, and Partnering churches to join the workers in the harvest in Evangeline Association.

The Season We’re In

COVID-19 is still here and, if the news reports are any indication, it’s not going anywhere soon.

Countless prayers meetings, large and small, have been held asking God to remove this virus. God has certainly heard our prayers but the answer appears to be “no” or “not yet,” at least for now.

So, where does that leave us as believers? As the church?

Most churches regathered with around 30%- 50% of their pre-COVID attendance. For most this meant no hugs, no right-hand-of-fellowship, and certainly no close conversation. And many congregations are still struggling to restart Sunday School, for all ages, in light of the current restrictions.

I believe this leaves us where Paul was when he wrote his second letter to the believers living in Corinth.

So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (NLT)

Paul was in a frustrating and apparently painful season. The details are unclear regarding what this thorn was, but it allows us to step into the story and frame it within our present circumstances.  He had work to do. Churches to start. Congregations that needed follow-up. False teaching to address and more. He didn’t have time for this “thorn,” so three times Paul “begged” God to take it away. God heard his prayers – and said no.

For months now, Louisiana Baptists have joined together to pray for the removal of a “thorn” called COVID-19. We have fasted and we have prayed, on multiple occasions – and we’re still praying. The lack of a preferred answer is leading to discontentment, frustration and fatigue.

So again, where does this leave us?

From all indications we may be in a “grace sufficient season,” if you will. In other words we can exist in a season of disgruntled discontentment or we can embrace God’s response to Paul “my grace is sufficient for you.”

Don’t miss Paul’s response – he did not nod his head in agreement with God’s response and continue to complain about his thorn. Instead he began to “boast about his weakness.” Instead of complaining about this painful, inconvenient season, he actually began to “take pleasure” in his weakness, hardships, persecutions and troubles. As David Jeremiah wrote in the midst of his own thorn-in-the-flesh days, “I learned to pray out of desperation. For most of us, this is how the adventure usually begins.”

What did Paul know that we may be missing?

He understood his weakness released God’s power, God’s strength.

Isn’t this what we need?

In our rush to return to normal we forget that “normal” saw decades of decline in worship, baptisms, Sunday School attendance and other indicators. Our programs, initiatives and emphases did little to slow down or stop the downward trend. An average of two churches a month closed their doors in Louisiana. Our seasons of “normal” saw a lot of activity but often, little fruit.

So maybe, just maybe God has moved us into a new season to remind us that we are a body, not a building. We are a people, not a program. We are a movement, not a museum.  Most of all, it’s a season where we have to depend upon Him instead of ourselves. Think about it, history shows us that the church has prospered in unconventional times.

This “grace sufficient season” is one where we stop complaining and start connecting. We take “pleasure” in and give thanks for the circumstances that appear to be holding us back. Instead, these become altars on which we can lay our weaknesses and gateways for God’s power to flow through us.

A prayer: “Father, we thank you that you have heard our prayers and it appears your answer for now is no. Forgive us for complaining against our officials, our church leaders and even against each other. Through your Spirit help us give thanks for what you’ve provided to get us through this pandemic – your grace and your power. We acknowledge our weakness and ask that your power begin to flow through us so we can be the salt and light you’ve left us here to be. Give us your power and wisdom to advance your plans and purposes, even during this pandemic. Thank you for this grace sufficient season. In your Son’s name we pray …”

Re-Engaging Your Sunday School or Small Groups Ministry – Pt. 6

Part 6 – They Called Him “Rabbi”

38 When Jesus turned and noticed them following him, he asked them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?” John 1:38 (CSBBible)

Rabbi is a Jewish term which means “Teacher.” Those that began following Jesus early in His ministry knew He was no ordinary Teacher. To be a Rabbi was a Jewish custom. It meant to train, equip and prepare His disciples to become Rabbis, themselves. The objective of a Rabbi was to make disciples who would make disciples. Sound familiar?

6 For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth comes knowledge and understanding. Proverbs 2:6 (CSBBible) Jesus did more than just teach them information or “knowledge.” He taught them wisdom. Jesus spent more time with the 12 disciples than He did with anyone else. He spoke to the multitudes. He preached to the crowds. But, He “taught” the disciples. He was preparing a rag-tag group of misfits to change the world. That sounds a lot like your job description as a Sunday School Teacher or Small Group Leader!

Your role in today’s church is increasingly critical. I know you have a full-time job, are raising a family, taking care of others and involved in the community. I understand that you are busy. Even so, God has chosen you and me to make disciples. This responsibility is too great to just spend an hour or two a week in preparation. You see, we have the privilege of making disciples who will make disciples. And, just like Jesus, we are preparing them to change the world.

Whether it is in person or online, you are exactly what the members and prospects for your class/group need right now. For such a time as this, He has called you to lead.

Need more ideas?

Join us on Monday, August 10th and Tuesday August 11th, for Louisiana Baptists first ever, Digital ReGroup Conference. Not only will this be a timely message for those who lead the Sunday School and/or Small Group Ministry in their church, but ESPECIALLY for all those who lead a class or small group every week. We need to prepare the wonderful lay people who have the responsibility of making disciples through their class or small group, for the New Normal.

We are asking you to commit to one hour. Below, you will see the schedule and the people who can help us better understand the opportunities and challenges we face for the next few weeks and months.  All you have to do is register and watch.

This is a free event and registration is open now at www.LouisianaBaptists.org/ReGroup20 (Note, you may participate in any or all of the sessions, just register individually for each one.)

Go to this event page and click on your session of interest, a registration box will pop up.  Upon completion for this free event, you will receive a confirmation/invitation link via email for each session registered.

If you can’t participate in the live webcast, you can view it online. The recording will be available at our website by Friday, August 14th.

Here is the Digital ReGroup schedule:

  • Pastors/Staff/Key Ministry LeadersMonday, August 10th, 6:00-7:00 PM

With Special Guests Steve Bennett, Pastor, First, Moss Bluff; Matt Endris

Pastor, Fairview, Coushatta; Sean Keith, Sunday School/Discipleship Strategist, Louisiana Baptists; and Host, Dr. Stewart Holloway, Pastor, First, Pineville.

  • Adult LeadersMonday, August 10th, 7:30–8:30 PM

Special Guest David Apple, Adult Ministry Consultant, Nashville, TN;

Jeff Ingram, Adult Ministry & Church Administration Strategist, Louisiana Baptists; and Host,    Dr. Stewart Holloway, Pastor, First, Pineville.

  • Next Gen/Preschool/Children’s LeadersTuesday, August 11th, 6:00-7:00 PM

Special Guest, Mark Jones, Children’s Pastor, Quail Springs, Oklahoma City, OK; David Anderson, Children’s Strategist, Louisiana Baptists’ and Host, Dr. Steve Horn, Executive Director, Louisiana Baptists, Alexandria.

  • Next Gen/Student LeadersTuesday, August 11th, 7:30-8:30 PM

Special Guests Blake Lewis, Middle School Pastor, First, Haughton; Ray McCon, Minister to Students, Walker, Walker; Brandon Lewis, Youth Strategist, Louisiana Baptists; and Host, Dr. Steve Horn, Executive Director, Louisiana Baptists, Alexandria.

Mark these dates and times on your calendar and make every effort to join us live.

Remember, you are called to lead. Now, let’s prepare to change the world.

A Virus Changes Everything

I don’t mind change. Actually, I even like some changes. However, what has been most troubling lately, is that the Coronavirus has changed almost everything. And it is still changing things. It is changing our culture, our families, our relationships, our education, media and even—dare I say it, the church. I have a word for you–ADAPT. That five letter word is the answer to the six letter word CHANGE.

Our world is facing a serious plague. What this pandemic has caused is uncertainty, hopelessness and so much more. This virus is being blamed for all the riots, politics and raw emotions people are expressing.  I’m sure you understand that the turmoil in our nation may be “caused” by Coronavirus around the world but the root of the problem is not actually caused by the Coronavirus. It is simply the symptom that has brought to light the real issue—SIN. Without God, there is no hope. People who do not have hope do strange things. Nothing we do can make Covid 19 go away. Nor can we go back in time to the way things were.

When I was young, around 9 or 10, I vividly remember lying on the concrete driveway and in our front yard, staring up into the sky. I wondered what I would be when I grew up. Would I be a police officer, a fireman, a soldier, a businessman, etc.? The possibilities were endless. Being an optimist, I imagined myself making a difference in the world.

Reality as an adult is quite different than the imaginations of a child. I have to make decisions every day. I must decide what is best for my life and those whose lives I impact. Sometimes I make good decisions and sometimes I make bad decisions. The difference in my life is my relationship with God. I am forgiven. I am loved. I am redeemed and a child of Almighty God. I don’t deserve it nor could I earn it. Because of God’s grace and mercy, I am saved.

Because of my relationship with God, He called me into the ministry. As a child, I never imagined that I would be a Baptist Minister. Today, I’m grateful that I am. God has not only saved me but called me to a task that I cannot do on my own. Every day, God teaches me. He disciplines me and guides me. He has prepared me for Covid 19 and all the things that come with it. I was called for such a time as this.

So were you. God has prepared you for this. There is hope. God will see us through. Together, we will be stronger, wiser and better prepared to face anything that life and/or Satan may throw at us. Our life is eternal because of what Jesus did for you and me on the cross. In this life or the next, we are firmly in His hands.

With that being said, God has prepared us to ADAPT. We can and we will become what God desires us to be. He has not left us alone. He is faithful. He WILL finish what He has started. The changes that we are experiencing are simply curves in our journey of faithful living for His glory. One thing remains, while we are still on this earth living this life, there are still people who need hope. There are people who need to know that God loves them and has a plan for them. They do not have to walk in fear. Jesus is still the answer.

Pray for Carey Association

Associational Mission Strategist: Bruce Baker
  • Covers Cameron, Calcasieu, and Jefferson Davis Parishes.
  • Major towns are Lake Charles, Sulphur, Jennings.
  • 231,084 souls reside in Carey Association.
  • 29.6% of the population, or 68,425, are evangelicals.
  • 60,405 or 30% of the population are listed as none’s or non-affiliated with any church.
  • 9,334, or 4% of the population, attend the 73 SBC churches in Carey Baptist Association.
  • 12 new SBC churches have been planted in Carey Association since 2010.
  • Church to Population ratio is 1 to 3,165. 8 new churches would be needed to get to our statewide ratio of 1 to 2,850. 43 new churches would be needed to get to NAMB’s suggested ratio of 1 to 2,000.
Pray for the pastors and churches of Carey Association. Pray for people to hunger for the gospel. Pray for believers who will share the gospel with neighbors, friends, and family members.

Re-Engaging Your Sunday School or Small Groups Ministry – Pt. 5

Part 5 – It’s About the People

Jesus died for you and me. The Gospel has been, is, and will always be about Jesus offering salvation to all people. The church, our ministry, and our focus is and should always be about reaching people with the Gospel, equipping them with the truth of God’s Word, caring for and ministering to one another and with those whom God places in our path.

Why should we reach and enroll new people? Because people need to know that Jesus died for them. They need to know they can be a part of a small group of people who will love them, guide them and lead them to share Christ and live for Christ. That is why small groups are so important.

Why should we regularly, consistently teach people God’s truth from His Word? Because people need to know what Jesus can and will do for them and through them. God’s Word is our guide to living for Jesus and allowing Him to live through us. Most Christians don’t open God’s Word on a regular basis. They need someone to show them how to read, study and memorize God’s Word. We teach them how to feed themselves spiritually through God’s Word. How amazing it would be if every believer was reading, studying, and memorizing God’s Word every day?

Why should we care for one another and for those God places in our path? Jesus said in John 13:35 (CSBBible), 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Our actions matter. Jesus died for people. I think He considers people worthy of our time, attention, and treasure. We must love others, even when they are not loving towards us or others. That makes us different. When we love people, the light of Jesus shines through us.

Re-Engaging your Sunday School or Small Group ministry matters because people matter. That’s not a political or racial statement. God has been saying that a whole long longer than any organization or political group.

Still need more ideas?

Join us on Monday, August 10th and Tuesday August 11th, for Louisiana Baptists first ever, Digital ReGroup Conference. Not only will this be a timely message for those who lead the Sunday School and/or Small Group Ministry in their church, but ESPECIALLY for all those who lead a class or small group every week. We need to prepare these wonderful lay people who have the responsibility of making disciples through their class or small group for the New Normal.

We are asking you to commit to one hour. Below, you will see the schedule and the people who can help us understand the opportunities and challenges we face for the next few weeks and months. The webinar is free. All you have to do is register and watch.

This is a free event and registration is open now at www.LouisianaBaptists.org/ReGroup20

Go to this event page and click on your session of interest (under the Register Here header), a registration box will drop down. Upon completion for this free event, you will receive a confirmation/invitation link via email.  You may register for any or all of the sessions.

If you can’t participate in the live webcast, you can view it online. The recording will be available at our website by Friday, August 14th.

Here is the Digital ReGroup schedule:

  • Pastors/Staff/Key Ministry LeadersMonday, August 10th, 6:00-7:00 PM

With Special Guests Steve Bennett, Pastor, First, Moss Bluff, Matt Endris

Pastor, Fairview, Coushatta and Sean Keith, Sunday School/Discipleship Strategist, Louisiana Baptists, with Host Stewart Holloway, Pastor, First, Pineville.

  • Adult LeadersMonday, August 10th, 7:30–8:30 PM

Special Guest David Apple, Adult Ministry Consultant, Nashville, TN, and

Jeff Ingram, Adult Ministry & Church Administration Strategist, Louisiana Baptists, with Host Stewart Holloway, Pastor, First, Pineville.

  • Next Gen/Preschool/Children’s LeadersTuesday, August 11th, 6:00-7:00 PM

Special Guest, Mark Jones, Children’s Pastor, Quail Springs, Oklahoma City, OK and David Anderson, Children’s Strategist, Louisiana Baptists, with Host Dr. Steve Horn, Executive Director, Louisiana Baptists, Alexandria.

  • Next Gen/Student LeadersTuesday, August 11th, 7:30-8:30 PM

Special Guests Blake Lewis, Middle School Pastor, First, Haughton; Ray McCon, Minister to Students, Walker, Walker and Brandon Lewis, Youth Strategist, Louisiana Baptists, with Host Dr. Steve Horn, Executive Director, Louisiana Baptists, Alexandria.

Mark these dates and times on your calendar and make every effort to join us live.

We Give Thanks to God Always for All of You

“We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” – 1Thessalonians 1:2-3 (ESV)

We are 120 days past the first stay-at-home order and Louisiana Baptists have published the mid-year Cooperative Program contributions report. As I read over it, Paul’s noble expression to the Thessalonica saints came to mind and I gave thanks to God for His people in Louisiana. These three phrases describe the response of Louisiana Baptist churches and members to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Work of faith – One question that arose in the minds of many at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic was, “How will we survive financially?” It was a question posed by families, churches, and businesses, at every level. It would be understandable if people would tighten their belts and conserve their resources. The domino effect of such a response would be the ministries and missions of local churches, associations, state and national conventions would be greatly affected. But by in large people continued to give graciously as a testimony of their faith in God. There have been adjustments, and most are down some financially, but due to the faithfulness of God’s people, ministry has continued unabated.

Labor of love – The gracious giving of God’s saints testifies, not only to their faith in Him, but their love for Him. They love God and God’s people and thus give to support ministry at home. But they also love people abroad and thus give to support missionaries in other lands. In both cases, their giving is a labor of love for God and people that helps fulfill the two great commandments.

Steadfastness of hope – Christians give during difficult times because their hope is focused on God rather than temporal things. Sometimes believers lose their focus and become consumed with immediate crises, resulting in anxiety fueled by self-reliance. Thankfully, this has not been the response of Louisiana Baptist believers. They have demonstrated a resolute hope in eternal God and a refusal to be distracted by a temporary crisis.

I am thankful to God for Louisiana Baptist churches. Some are larger than others, but each is valued. Some give more than others, but each gift is important. Every church’s investment is vital to fulfill the task God has given us. Thank you, Louisiana Baptists! We are indeed, better together!

Mid-Year CP Giving Report

As we pass the mid-point of what seems like an extremely long year, several words come to mind that would be descriptive of how I feel about 2020.

Unexpected would definitely be one of those words. No one expected COVID-19. No one saw the social unrest that has unfolded over the last several months.

Another word would be uncertainty. It’s no surprise that unexpected events such as the ones we’ve experienced lead to uncertainty. Economic uncertainty. Health uncertainty. Emotional uncertainty. What can we do? What should we do?

But even in the midst of these unexpected and uncertain times, I would include the word grateful.

I’m grateful God has been faithful. Samuel sums it up well for me when he said, “So far, the Lord has helped us.” These unexpected and uncertain times have not caught Him off guard.

I’m grateful for the spirit I’ve seen in Louisiana Baptists. You’ve been creative, stretching yourselves, utilizing unfamiliar technology for many of you, as you’ve continued to minister to each other and your communities. You have exhibited a God-honoring spirit that shows we may have been confined, but we were not contained. You cannot quarantine good news.

I am grateful for your faithfulness in giving to the Lord through your church which supports missions and ministries across Louisiana and beyond.

Click the button at the top of the page and download this year’s CP mid-year giving report. The numbers may look a little different than in past years. But in some ways they are more meaningful. They were given during a time when the markets plunged, when energy prices tanked and when unemployment soared. They represent a love for the Lord and His mission that is humbling to observe.

You have blessed me during these unexpected and uncertain times and I am grateful to the Lord and to you.

Facing Uncertainty

As I have talked with leaders across the State, I have heard a common concern, and I’ve heard it at my own church, as well. We have faced difficulties before. We know how to ride out a storm. We know how to survive a downturn in our economy. We have seen riots, faced racial division and political tension before. What almost all of us are struggling with now, is UNCERTAINTY.

When will things get back to normal? Can things even be normal again? How do I trust the information I am getting? Who can I trust? People desperately want to get back to some resemblance of normal but our Government, the news and the doctors all tell us that we must slow down, protect ourselves and others. Some people don’t have jobs right now. There are questions about school. Will they open? How will they operate? Will kids practice social distancing? Will they wear a mask?

Everything is different now. Human beings like some sense of normal. We need something to count on. We need something to depend on. What is going to happen to our country, our state, our jobs, our schools, our economy, etc.? The answer; nobody really knows. The “so called experts” don’t really know. They are making educated guesses, but they still don’t know for certain if and when everything will go back to normal.

26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26 (CSBBible). BUT WITH GOD. The first time I finally stopped long enough to read those words, it profoundly changed how I viewed God. Regardless of what is happening around me, there is always a “But With God”. This is not some cheap slogan or catch phrase; this is a truth. No matter the uncertainty, “With God” all things are possible. God knows what has happened, what is happening and what will happen. He is in control. He is at work. 28 We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 (CSBBible)

Knowing this truth probably will not relieve you of the stress that uncertainty brings. But with God, it is enough to know that He is in control and working out His will to accomplish His purpose. This truth helps us to know that we can and we will get through this. I don’t know what is going to happen. I don’t know if and when things will get back to normal. But With God, I do know that HE is in control and working on our behalf. Because, With God, all things are possible.

Pray for Acadia Association

 Associational Mission Strategist: Bert Langley
  • Covers Acadia, St. Landry, and part of Evangeline Parishes.
  • Major towns are Opelousas, Ville Platte, Crowley, Mamou, and Eunice.
  • 179,141 souls reside in Acadia Association.
  • 12.2% of the population, or 21,803, are evangelicals.
  • 56,476 or 32% of the population are listed as none’s or non-affiliated with any church. (They’re not all Catholic). 
  • Five new SBC churches have been planted in Acadia since 2010, including Christ Church Opelousas, Berean Baptist in Crowley, New Life Arnoldville.
  • Church to Population ratio is 1 to 3,980. 18 new churches would be needed to get to our statewide ratio of 1 to 2,850. 45 new churches would be needed to get to NAMB’s suggested ratio of 1 to 2,000.
  • Acadia is also home to Acadian Baptist Center. Great camp with rich history of missions and evangelism.
Pray for the pastors and churches of Acadia Association. Pray for people to hunger for the gospel. Pray for believers who will share the gospel with neighbors, friends, and family members. Pray for new African-American churches that are in the works in this area.