A Compassionate Heart

When many people see a homeless person on the street, there is a tendency to move to the other side of the street, not knowing what to do. Then, there is a tendency to feel guilty for not doing anything to help. The question is, how do we have a compassionate heart. How do we look back past people’s circumstances and see the real needs of people.

H-healthy. We need to be healthy people. We need to be focused on positive self- worth as people who are charged with serving others as a way of life. We need to find our purpose and utilize our purpose in every situation. We need to be spiritually clean so that we will feel confident in helping others.

E-enthusiastic. Where does enthusiasm come from? Enthusiasm comes from the Holy Spirit. When we are living a healthy life, the power of the Holy Spirit can fill up our life, and give us the enthusiasm it takes to interact with needy people and show the compassion of Jesus to people around us.

A-attentive. We need to be attentive to PEOPLE. Behind every needy circumstance is a person, who has gotten to the place of need by a series of twists and turns. Some are self-inflicted, but others are truly the events that happen in people’s lives. I met a man on the street in Nashville and he began to give me the “two dollar” hustle. I listened to him and he kept saying, “My dad died in 2005”…and everything changed from that moment. I told him, “until you go back to that moment and resolve your dad’s death, you will never be able to move forward.” I told him that God could be his replacement father if allowed. He didn’t get his two dollars, but hopefully he was impacted by the message.

R-respectful-We need to be careful to erase the language of alienation that borders on racism. Words like “those people” or “the people from that side of town”, or “those children” should be lost from our vocabulary. People are people and we need to treat people well, especially at the point of physical/spiritual need.

T-truthful. We need to tell people the truth. If you can help someone today, help them today. But don’t give the impression that you can help tomorrow if you can’t. Needy people are naturally not trusting. One of the greatest ways to minister to people past the immediate need, is to be truthful, and show up when you are supposed to. Be a person who can be counted on, and truly needy people will respond to your message.

ReGroup Conference Resources

Baptists are good at talking about what we should do and how to do it, but do you remember WHY you do what you do? We exist to glorify God. We glorify God when we make disciples. We make disciples by sharing the gospel with the lost, developing biblical community, helping believers to mature spiritually and equipping believers to live missionally.

3 Values That Make a Church Beautiful

Living in primitive one-room homes on the side of an active volcano, I experienced a church that personified beauty. Their beauty wasn’t found in ornate stained glass windows or plush carpet. Come to think of it, the church didn’t even have windows or flooring! As we worshiped in Guatemala, looking around, I whispered to myself, “What a beautiful church – perhaps the most beautiful church I’ve ever seen.” Honestly, to return to the climate controlled, multi-million-dollar facility known as my church was a bit of a downer after worshiping in that little village close to the equator.

That church looked more like the first century church than mine.
I had an epiphany about why the church in Guatemala seemed so much more beautiful. That church looked more like the first century church than mine. They worshiped without time constraint, they certainly gave sacrificially even in poverty and it was apparent that God was doing things in that crowded room that I hadn’t seen God do before back in the US. So how can we make our church more like a New Testament church? Here are 3 values of the early church. As you read them, think about your church. Identify some ways your church can take steps to capture the bliss of creating something beautiful in your faith community.

Value 1: Vibrant Prayer

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to the prayers. Acts 2:42 HCSB Old truth. Still true. Prayer has to begin the process. Pray constantly as a fellowship! Take steps this year to make your church a house of prayer. Schedule a night of prayer in which people come to the church to pray at allotted times throughout the night. Teach your students how to pray. They must have this skill as the days grow darker. Reboot your prayer room in the church Make small group praying a part of your main worship experience. Don’t use it simply as transitions for the offering, sermon or music.

Value 2: Divine Activity

Everyone felt a deep sense of awe, while many miracles and signs took place through the apostles. Acts 2:43 (Phillips) Look for God’s hand in what your church is doing. How is God at work. Not only in your church but around the world. We often tend to talk about how bad the world is becoming and we forget all the amazing things God is doing around our city, our state or around the world. Check out these videos . They’d be a great starting point to the celebration.

Value 3: Dangerous Generosity

All the believers shared everything in common; they sold their possessions and goods and divided the proceeds among the fellowship according to individual need. Acts 2:44 (Phillips) It’s just a fact that God blesses a giving church. In Louisiana we have the opportunity to give together through the Georgia Barnette State Missions Offering . This offering is our statewide effort to make sure everyone in Louisiana could be impacted by the gospel through

  • church planting
  • evangelistic efforts
  • hunger relief
  • Compassion ministries
  • scholarships for emerging leaders
  • crisis pregnancy
  • missions education
  • training for new leaders
  • church revitalization
  • and the Here For You media campaign that has reached millions across Louisiana with a message of hope and salvation.

The generosity of churches giving away thousands to projects, ministries and missions outside their reach is a direct reflection of what the first church was doing. As believers we personally have a great opportunity everyday to live with an open hand of generosity. Every weekend, as a church, we get to do it together. When we do that in a mud hut or a storied church plant we can whisper to each other. The church is beautiful.

Church Planters Share Their #1 Resource… It Might Surprise You

This summer we held Church Planting Network luncheons across the state of Louisiana. Over 100 leaders attended the luncheons and were asked to share three things:

  1. Biggest Recent Win
  2.  Current Greatest Challenge
  3. Best Resource

The discussions were great and inspirational. God is truly doing some historic things across the bayou state. It was a great experience to share a meal and get to spend some time with these incredible leaders.

What was the top resource? The #1 resource shared by church planting leaders across Louisiana was PEOPLE! At every meeting several of these leaders would wisely say, “My best resource is the people that serve with me, support me, and that I can call on when I need them.” This fits a church planting axiom that I heard years ago, “The resources are in the harvest.”

Church planting leaders MUST learn how to gather, develop, encourage, deploy, and depend upon people. Our best resources will always be those around us.

Here is a list of 25 other resources shared at our statewide gatherings this summer.


1Websitehttp://bookdepot.comGreat site to check when doing book giveaways. Recent releases for as low as $3 each. Must order $100 worth
2Websitehttp://www.rightnowmedia.orgVideo Bible Study & Kids Entertainment Library.
3Websitehttp://erlc.comKeep up with cultural shifts & how to respond to issues
4Websitehttp://evernote.comFor sermon prep, planning, staff communication.
5Websitehttp://get.planningcenteronline.comFor team & volunteer management
6Websitehttp://story4all.comFor info on Gospel Storying
7Websitehttp://eventbrite.comFor event planning, registration, AND also social networking for events in your area.
8BookIt’s Personal: Surviving and Thriving on the Journey of Church PlantingThis years network giveaway. Great book on the personal, emotional side of planting & leadership.
9BookRediscovering the Church Fathers: Who They Were and How They Shaped the Church
10BookWhen Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor . . . and YourselfStart healthy compassion ministries.
11BookTruth That Sticks: How to Communicate Velcro Truth in a Teflon WorldOn storying the Bible.
12BookContagious Disciple Making: Leading Others on a Journey of Discovery. Great book on discipleship movements
13BookThe Rise of the Nones: Understanding and Reaching the Religiously UnaffiliatedMust read for church planters!
14BookSaturate: Being Disciples of Jesus in the Everyday Stuff of LifeBook of the year on discipleship & church life.
15BookTotal Church: A Radical Reshaping around Gospel and CommunityOn setting up healthy church systems & structures.
16BookRight Color, Wrong Culture: The Type of Leader Your Organization Needs to Become Multiethnic
17BookCommunity Group Guide: Planting or Re-Planting Life Giving Small Groups by Brad House
18BookThe Pocket Guide to Leading a Small Group: 52 Ways to Help You and Your Small Group Grow by Dave Early
19BookBobby Bowden On Leadership: Life Lessons from a Two-Time National Championship CoachShared by a former Florida State running back looking to plant a church in Louisiana in the coming years!
20BookPreaching to a Postmodern World: A Guide to Reaching Twenty-first Century Listeners
21BookBetter Together: Making Church Mergers Work
22BookOrdinary: How to Turn the World Upside Down by Tony Merida
23The Redeemer Church Planting Manual
24Mobile Pregnancy Center from the Louisiana Baptist Children’s HomeAvailable to setup at your church or community event. Pregnancy test, ultrasounds, etc. done on site.
25Sean.Keith@LouisianaBaptists.orgSean helps churches set up structures & systems for continued growth.

Watch for some fall opportunities to network with multiplication leaders in your area.

Why Multi-site Church? 6 Benefits

Multi-site church development continues to be a great tool for multiplying and revitalizing churches. A few observations about current multi-site churches among Louisiana Baptists:

  • Those churches have experienced a combined 30% growth in attendance since becoming multi-site.
  • 80% have experienced growth in worship and small groups.
  • Half have included a church merger or gifting of a building from a declining church as part of the multi-site development.
  • Half have requested and received cooperative funding from the Louisiana Baptists Missions & Ministries Team for the new sites.
  • All of them were growing churches before multi-site development, not because of multi-site development.

One of the biggest takeaways: multi-site is not a tool for getting your church to grow, but to multiply your growing DNA to a new community. Dennis Watson, Pastor of Celebration Church in New Orleans, which has 6 campuses and is planning more, gives six benefits of a multi-site campus strategy. Multi-site enables your church to:

  1. Grow larger and smaller at the same time.
  2. Overcome geographic and cultural barriers to reach new people.
  3. Address more community needs and provide more community support.
  4. Involve more people in growth and outreach opportunities.
  5. Staff with generalists and specialists, so that both groups can be utilized.
  6. Provide a new church vibe with a big church punch.

How can our church know if multi-site is in our future:

  • Do you have a vision for church revitalization that may include merging with a declining congregation?
  • Are you running out of space, but do not feel led to build bigger?
  • Has your church been in decline and could possibly be a candidate for merging with a sister congregation?
  • Take this Multi-site Diagnosis Self-assessment (from Geoff Surratt, author of the Multi-Site Church Road Trip). 

Contact one of our Church Planting Strategists to talk about how to start your church multiplication journey.

Follow Up Reading

Interested in learning more about multi-site? Bookmark these great resources.

Does My Community Need a New Church? The Right Questions & Key Indicators

A common question I’m asked as a church planter and strategist is, “Why do we need new churches when we have so many already?”

Stated in other, more direct ways:

  • “We’ve got that area covered already, there’s no need for a new church.”
  • “Planting a new church will make pastors in the area feel unappreciated or like they’re not doing their job.”
  • “Why plant a new church when my church needs so much help?”
  • “Do we really need another ‘little’ church in this area?”
  • “Won’t a new church just take resources from other churches.”

These can be legitimate concerns, when brought with a kingdom mindset, and these concerns should be addressed by strategists and planters in the planning process. Here are a few better questions to help truly assess the need for a new church or ministry in our community:

  1. Is the community being transformed for the good or bad? Instead of starting by looking at ourselves (i.e. the existing churches in the community), maybe we should take a look at what’s happening in the lives of people in the area. Church planting should start with a desire to see the community transformed by the gospel. Is transformation happening as we need it to? Are we willing to admit that the task of transforming our community may be more than one church can handle? Are we committed to life change at all costs? What percentage of our population are actually attending church? What percentage is involved in a small group Bible Study?
  2. Are there places where the church is not? Flowing out of the first question, what do we find when we look at spheres of influence and places of engagement in the community? Are churches able and willing to engage the local schools? multi-housing complexes? business communities? correctional facilities? chat rooms? neighborhood associations? etc.
  3. Are there population segments or people groups that are not being touched by the Gospel? Next, are there language, socioeconomic, or lifestyle groups that are not being touched adequately by a consistent Gospel witness? Has there been an increase in ethnic groups in our area? What generations of people are missing from our congregations?
  4. What is God stirring in and for this community? God is in the world reconciling people to Himself (2 Corinthians 5:17-21). What is He doing in this community in that regard? When our Father’s work includes stirring the heart of an area church to multiply and send out its own to start a new church or launch a new campus or reach out to a population segment, we should not oppose what He is stirring. We can assess if this is a genuine call from God or a call to disgruntlement or if it is born out of divisiveness. We can also hold our planting teams accountable to be agents of transformation not division, focusing on where the church is not and reaching out to unreached peoples.

Many pastors, myself included, tend to think about a new ministry or church through the lens of what it may cost us. What if we thought about it in terms of the great cost to those who may never hear the Gospel, or those who are going through life’s challenges without a family of believers who can love and provide for them along the way? Can we look honestly at our communities and see the need and God’s activity – then partner together to plant for God’s glory and the good of our communities?

Check out the Louisiana Engage Map to research demographic info, locations of current churches, church plants and targets for new churches for communities across Louisiana.

4 Essential Truths about the Ministry Evangelism Movement

In a small town Baptist church in Louisiana, two ladies, both of them struggling with the grief of losing a child, approached the pastor about a new ministry. They connected with other families in similar situations. Out of their own grief, God instilled a desire to comfort others.

The church got behind it, sent them to some training and a new ministry was born that restored believers who were despondent and disconnected from God and church.  Over time they found reconnection and healing. In fact, some even felt called to minister as well!

That’s what ministry evangelism looks like­­. It’s reaching beyond the wounds and insufficiency of our own story to use the tools of listening, grace, support and comfort to slowly draw the hurting toward the cross. This can only be both through the power of the Holy Spirit and a pastor and church that is courageous enough to release the body to utilize their story and their gifts.

In the 21st century there is probably no greater tool for reaching the lost in your community than ministry evangelism.

Here are four essential truths about servant evangelism

  1. Ministry evangelism is more than simply ministering to the physical or emotional needs of people. It is intentionally evangelistic and its goal is to meet a person’s most important need, a relationship with the Lord. Some ministries stop short of offering the good news of Gods grace but that’s the whole point.
  1. Ministry evangelism is different from servant evangelism. Both are important and should be part of a church’s strategy. Servant evangelism is project oriented, one day to a few weeks. Ministry evangelism is long-term, hopefully years.
  1. Church size is NOT a factor! Some of our smaller membership churches believe it will work in a large church, but not a small one. But regardless how small the church, you can find a need in the community and begin somewhere.
  1. Ministry evangelism, like the early church, is organic. It’s not a program complete with DVD and learner guides. You begin with people! Find the needs in your area and look at the gifted in your church. Where they intersect is great possibility for ministry. You will find that ‘it starts in the heart’ of one individual willing to extend themselves in helping another individual in the name of Jesus.

A ministry-centered church reflects compassion, passion and intentional evangelism. As you and your church care for people’s needs and share Christ with them, God will use you.

Lagniappe: There is no better example than Dr. Charles Roesel, former pastor of FBC, Leesburg, Florida. Dr. Roesel did ministry evangelism at a small membership church in the Appalachians, in medium churches in Florida and ultimately at FBC of Leesburg, Florida. At the time, Dr. Roesel described the church as ‘frozen together by formality and rusted together by tradition.’ Soon the people bought into his vision and they began to average 300 baptisms a year.

Dr. Roesel will be leading ‘how-to” conferences all over the state September 21-24, 2015. You will learn how to establish ministry evangelism and be given Dr. Roesel’s latest book, “It’s A God Thing,” in which he shares 101 ideas on ministry evangelism.

Don’t miss this prime opportunity!

Register here


From Zero to Hero: 3 Ingredients for Great Church Videos

What if I told you the three ingredients that could take your church videos from “zero to hero”? In this digital age, church communication will continue to incorporate more and more video to share the on-going story of what God is doing in and through your church.

Here is a list of 3 key ingredients that a part of any great video.

1. Clear Audio

Often audio is an afterthought in video production but that is just not the case for your viewer. Commercial TV and Hollywood movies have an intimate clarity that is synonymous with a high level of quality. I often see videos that have huge audible barriers that prohibit the message from even having a chance to be received. Compare these two videos and determine which one is the most effective in conveying the message using clear audio.

Try to avoid an acoustical nightmare. Sure, stained concrete looks cool but will it be an audible barrier for your viewer? You have been tasked with conveying an important message through video. It can be rich in aesthetics but still fall short in accomplishing the goal due to poor audio. Preferably a room with tall ceilings and a rug underneath is desirable. Pack a rug or two with your gear when walking into a new situation where you aren’t sure of the acoustics.

A well-placed boom microphone such as the Rode NTG1 will do wonders for giving you a clear three dimensional sound. For years I played around with clip on lav mics only to discover their limitations at reproducing a natural environmental sound. If you don’t have an XLR connection then there are lots of options for external recorders. I personally prefer Tascam recorders because of an extremely low noise floor. (Ain’t nobody got time for hissy audio!)

A little compression can go a long way towards making your audio sound polished. Compression is an audio tool that is common in most video editing programs. Used judiciously, it can really help punch up the audio and give it a perceived loudness that we equate with good quality. The way it works is that it controls frequencies that go past a desired threshold that you get to decide on. Once those are controlled then you can turn up the overall volume without having to worry about the loud passages peaking your audio meters. A good setting to start with would be a 2:1 ratio. Then lower your threshold slowly until you see 3 to 6 db of volume being reduced. Too much compression is like too much salt. A little goes a long way.

2. Soft Light

With the rise of DSLR video in church communication, soft light is extremely important to the storyteller. DSLR cameras have a plethora of contrast built into them and aren’t very forgiving if you miss the mark with your settings. Paying attention to harsh light in your environment can really payoff in the finished product.

Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset

Grab a couple of softbox lights to get you started. Lowell makes some great starter kits. Turn off all of the lights in the room and begin to shape your light using the softboxes. This will provide maximum control to shape the light in a way that pleases the eye. As your budget grows consider getting a total of 3 lights for a standard 3 point lighting configuration.

Window light can be your friend. Most rooms have a window so it is best to try to use that light to your advantage. If for some reason your church can’t afford lighting at this time then move your subject towards the window and pay close attention that the light coming in from outside covers half of the face in order to create a cinematic falloff of shadows on the opposing side of the face. In most circumstances it will serve you well to turn off all of the lights in your room. There are no hard and fast rules so use your eye to discriminate between what works well and what doesn’t.

3. Great storytelling

Every story has a strong beginning, end, and some climatic moment in the middle. Make sure your story includes the same. When you are on location make sure that you work with the person you are interviewing to bring out those moments. Listen intently and learn to ask questions that provide opportunities for these 3 components to occur organically.

Ask questions that address the past:

  • “Why did you get started with this ministry?”
  • “How did you come to make this decision?”
  • “When did you start sensing the Lord’s calling in your life?”

Ask questions about the present:

  • “How is God changing your heart now for the people of India”,
  • “What are some recent things that your ministry has been doing,”
  • “So, what are you learning so far about the conference you are attending?”

Finally ask some questions about the future:

  • “What do you see your organization being involved with in the coming months?”
  • “Would you come back next year to this event?”
  • “Why do you think future college students would benefit from what this ministry is doing?”

Of course these are just generic questions so make sure the questions you ask are relevant. Don’t be afraid to ask the same question over to give the interviewee an opportunity to say it better. Make them feel comfortable and don’t forget to coach. Also, have a conversation about other things, joke with them, and this will go a long way to making them feel comfortable with you and the shooting experience.

Make sure to practice active listening so that you can draw the story out in the open during an interview. It is very difficult to do if you are fumbling around with equipment so you will find that the better you know your video gear the better at active listening you will become.

Recently I had the privilege of getting to work on the video above where all 3 ingredients (clear audio, soft lighting, and good storytelling) were present. There is definitely room for improvement but the fact that all 3 elements are there excites me. Incorporating these three ingredients will help you take your next video from zero to hero!