January Bible Study Preview Recap

The message delivered by Peter has great relevance for today, as more pressure is being exerted on believers around the world. This January Bible Study will be a source of encouragement to believers facing this increasing pressure, reminding them that they are foreigners in a distant land and that one day they will gain the privileges of their heavenly citizenship.  In under 40 minutes Charles Ray will prepare you as you teach 1st Peter.

Dr. Charles Ray PHD is our master teacher as we prepare for January Bible Study. He  is Associate Dean of Research Doctoral Program and Professor of New Testament and Greek at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He spent 7 years at the Korean Baptist Seminary teaching.

Free Resources from Charles Ray:

1 Peter Bibliography
1 Peter Text
1 Peter PowerPoint

The Ultimate Fixer Upper Reveal

I just finished reading Joanna and Chip Gaines, The Magnolia Story. By the way, it’s a great read, even for guys like me that end up as accidental HGTV viewers. In the book, the Gaines share amazing stories of how their lives intersected and through courage, faith and perseverance God began to build things in their lives that they never dreamed would happen.

For me there is a biblical moment in every one of their shows, It’s the big reveal. They bring the home owners by their newly redesigned house with a huge photo of the pre-renovated house masking its fresh paint, new porch, replaced shutters and new landscaping. Of course, it’s the dramatic climax of every show as they roll the huge photo away, a moment complete with tears, hugs and ‘wow’s.

The biblical moment for me is the connection we find in Ezekiel 40 when God reveals to Ezekiel the New City and the New Temple.

He brought me there (to the new city). In visions of God, He took me to the land of Israel and set me down on a very high mountain. On its southern slope was a structure resembling a city. Ezekiel 40:1-3 (CSB)

This was God’s big reveal as he walked Ezekiel through the New City and Temple which represent a time when we all will see the glory of God’s perfect work. Complete with eye-popping design, renovation and beauty.

I’m reminded that this world is  a fixer upper. The societal landscape is full of weeds, leaky pipes, stained carpet, faulty tile, and messy closets. They present themselves as lies, injustice, starvation, human trafficking, hypocrisy, hate and dirty politics. But even now, God is at work.

We have the same responsibility that Ezekiel received in verse 4:

He spoke to me: “Son of man, look with your eyes, listen with your ears, and pay attention to everything I am going to show you, for you have been brought here so that I might show it to you. Report everything you see.”

We get to share the big reveal of our soon-to-be home, that Jesus is preparing. It’s what we do as believers.

Remember His promise?

 In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if not, I would have told you. I am going away to prepare a place for you.  If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come back and receive you to Myself, so that where I am you may be also.  You know the way to where I am going.

I don’t know about you, but after a rough year of lies, violence, injustice, terror, and protests, I’m ready for our new digs. In the meantime, let’s do the two things He’s asked us to do. Do “big reveals” of the Kingdom to come and  pick up a hammer and renovate the fixer upper we have in front of our eyes today.

Read the original post here

Rethink Outreach with Small Groups

I wonder sometimes if anyone does outreach anymore. Many Sunday schools, small groups, and churches do not seem to place much priority on visitation, contacts, follow-up and outreach in general. Research continues to reveal that most churches (and their Sunday school/ small groups) are plateaued or declining in their enrollment, attendance and baptisms. Could it be, at least partially, because churches have stopped doing outreach?

I visit a lot of churches and always enjoy picking up a copy of and reading through their Sunday bulletin or worship guide. It seems I rarely see any calendared event or announcement of a church-wide evangelistic visitation.

Some trends I’ve seen that may contribute to this dilemma:

  1. Adult Sunday school and small groups have become primarily a Bible study and fellowship. Now I’m not against either, but if we stop inviting prospects and unchurched people to our classes and groups then the focus becomes inward.
  2. Also, if adult SS and SG begin to focus inwardly, then there is no need to start new classes and groups; nor is there a need to encourage members to leave and teach in other age-groups. To do so would disrupt one’s Bible study and fellowship.
  3. Follow-up of prospects and inactive members is not a priority. Events like, Vacation Bible School, Harvest Parties, Easter Egg Hunts, often provide names of children and parents who are not involved in a church. Worship service guests are often asked for contact information in the form of guests cards. Unfortunately, little is done with these names to connect and assimilate them into the ministries of the church.
  4. There seems to be a mindset today that visitation no longer works. The argument goes that people are busy and don’t want to be contacted and bothered.
I believe some of the most influential persons in the church are the adult Sunday School or Small Group teachers.

Group leaders have tremendous influence over the adults entrusted to their care, as well as the purpose and direction of their class or group.

How can an adult group teacher influence the challenges facing the church today?

  1. Lead your class/group to be outwardly focused. Do mission projects through your class/group.
  2. Strongly encourage individuals in your class/group to serve in other areas and to start new classes and groups. Lead your class to fulfill the Great Commission through making disciples!
  3. Reconnect with inactive members. Follow-up with prospects until they are followers of Christ, assimilated into the church and learning to serve others.
  4. Times have changed and will continue to change dramatically. However, the personal touch is still a human need in our high-tech, impersonal world. People still want and need friends.

35 Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. 36 But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. 37 Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. 38 Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” –Matthew 9 (NKJV)

January Bible Study Previews

Deuteronomy: A Challenge to a New Generation

Get a head start on the 2015 January Bible Study! It’s on Deuteronomy and your Bible study teacher is Dr. Waylon Bailey.

Dr. Bailey is the Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church, Covington, Louisiana, since 1989. He also served seventeen years as a professor at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, six of those years as the J. Wash Watts Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew and the Chairman of the Division of Biblical Studies. He has written five books and is currently working on a devotional book to be published next year. In November 2011, Dr. Bailey was elected President of the Louisiana Baptist Convention.
Check out his blog at: www.waylonbailey.com

Listen Now

To get started, click the play button below to begin Session 1.

Want to save the audio to your computer? Simply right click on the session name and choose “Save As” to save to your computer.

When is VBS Really Over?

When is VBS really over? Friday afternoon or evening? How about when the last child and his or her family are enrolled in a Sunday School class? Make follow-up with prospects discovered during VBS a part of your planning now.

Fast forward about three months. Can you hear a church leader say,

(Or, is it?)

Months of preparation, effort, energy, time, and money has been expended in getting ready for Vacation Bible School. Now it’s Friday, the children are gone, and the workers are finishing taking down decorations and cleaning up their rooms. Maybe there’s the closing VBS Celebration Sunday night, but for all practical purposes, VBS is over for another year. Or is it?

Why do we have VBS? To have an intensive week of Bible studies, mission stories, upbeat music, recreation, and snacks? Yes to all of the above. But the main reason we have VBS is to discover prospects: boys and girls and their parents in our communities who are not involved in a church or Bible study; people who need the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

VBS is not over when the last child leaves, the last decoration is packed away, or the closing night celebration ends. VBS is not over until every child and parent in the community has come to Christ.

Do you remember those enrollment/registration cards you had each child fill out during VBS? Please don’t put a rubber band around the cards and set them on a shelf in the Sunday School office. Those cards are invaluable! They are the reason for VBS! Make copies and have people pray for the names on the cards. Study the cards for names of those who do not have a church home. Send a postcard or letter thanking them for coming and inviting them to Sunday School.

But don’t stop there! Assign the prospects to the appropriate preschool, children, youth, and adult Sunday School classes for follow-up as well. Think long-term relationship-building. Use a variety of ways to build friendships with prospects: week one, make a quick front-door home visit leaving SS literature or a magazine; week two, send a postcard; week three, make a phone call; week four, send a text or email. Invite prospects to other church events and activities.

VBS is not over until every child and parent in the community has come to Christ.

If there is indifference toward attending SS or church, then focus on ministry to them rather than just trying to get them to attend. For example, ask for prayer concerns, and then follow-up a week or so later. Build relationships without just focusing on their attendance. Keep ministering to your prospects, whether they come or not. Be a friend in Christ’s Name.

VBS is not over on Friday or Sunday afternoon, or even at the end of the summer. The work of contacting and cultivating boys and girls, men and women should continue. Keep those enrollment/registration cards visible and work them. Think long-term and continue cultivating friendships.

For more information on VBS follow-up or Sunday School, contact: Jeff Ingram, adult ministry strategist for Louisiana Baptists, Jeff.Ingram@LouisianaBaptists.org, or 318.448.3402.

One-Day Sunday School Consultation

Pastor, need some help with Sunday School?

Our one-day Sunday School consultation will provide a Louisiana Baptist strategist to:

  1. Observe during  your Sunday School hour
  2. Preach, or say a word of encouragement about Sunday School, during morning worship
  3. Meet with church staff and key Sunday School leaders during lunch to discuss observations and challenges facing your Sunday School
  4. Afterward, provide your one-page summary of the morning for the pastor and key leaders
  5. Provide further follow-up help if requested

*Because of your Cooperative Program gifts, there is NO COST to the church for this consultation.

Interested? Contact Sean Keith or Jeff Ingram for more information.

Church Building Conference Resources

In today’s world, making decisions that impact the financial strength of the church is challenging. To build or not to build. Let us help you and your church make the right decision.

Conference Resources

Explore The Bible: Expanding 2014

Adult Sunday School teachers may have noticed some changes to the Explore the Bible curriculum.

Check out this resources if you have questions about these changes, or if your church is considering ordering Explore the Bible adult curriculum.

If this resource does not answer your questions, please contact Jeff Ingram, Adult Ministry Strategist.

Beginning Fall 2014

Expanding to include:

  • ETB: Young Adults
  • ETB: Students
  • ETB: Small Groups
  • ETB: Kids

All Ages Will Study the Same Bible Book:

  • Same session passage(for example, Hebrews 1:1-4)
  • Same session memory verse(for example,Hebrews 1:2a: In these last days,He has spoken to us by His Son.)
  • Kids may study a different passage related to the concept (for example, Adults and Students may focus on Hebrews 11:1-7 while Kids focus on Noah’s faith in Genesis 6-8)


Available Translations: HCSB, KJV, NIV, and ESV (Digital Only)

Supplemental Resources


Start Something New Resources

Healthy churches multiply.

Start Something New! Learn how to start NEW groups, enlist and train NEW leaders and start NEW ministries or groups in your community.

This brief 30-minute video is filled with great principles and simple ideas on how to start new groups, enlist and train new leaders and start new groups and/or ministries in your community.


Here you will find age-group resources and promotional materials to help involve your Sunday School leaders in starting something new.

Age-Specific Resources:


Be a Catalyst: Start New Groups is a step by step guide in understanding and effectively beginning new groups in your church or community. For a new group to begin, there must be a catalyst that discovers the need, targets a specific group of people and engages key people in the enlistment, development and execution of a new group. Are you a New Groups Catalyst? If so, this book is for you. Learn more at Amazon.com.