3151 Challenge

Here’s an idea that actually worked! Recently I completed an interim pastor position at a church averaging about seventy-five in Sunday School. I presented to the church the 3151 Challenge. The challenge was for each member, during a one month period, to:

3> Pray for THREE lost friends;

1> Learn ONE Gospel presentation;

5> Invite FIVE people to your group;

1> Share the Gospel with ONE person.

Each Sunday School teacher was asked to help me promote the challenge during the month of February. I made the 3151 cards available to everyone (see resources below) and used the sermon time to preach/teach through the emphasis.

The THREE stands for three lost friends or relatives that you would pray for. There are seven biblical ways provided to pray for lost people: that God would convict them of their sin and lostness; for God to open their eyes and see Christ as Lord and Savior; to draw them to Christ through the Holy Spirit; tear down any strongholds that are keeping them from being saved; make their hearts receptive to the Gospel; move them to repentance and saving faith; and to help them be fruitful witnesses.

The first ONE was to learn a gospel presentation. The Roman Road is briefly described in the card resource. I also found using a tract like Billy Graham’s “Steps to Peace with God,” was helpful. I provided everyone present that morning in worship a copy of the tract and walked them through it, encouraging them with ways they can use it to sow the seeds of the gospel, as they go through their day.

The FIVE was to challenge every Sunday School member to invite five people to their class over the month of February. Teachers can prepare the class ahead of time that guests will be in their class over the next few weeks. Extra chairs, Sunday School books, etc. need to be made available.

The final ONE challenges class members to share the gospel with one person during the month. I helped the church know how to briefly share their testimony, one or two sentences for each of the following: what my life was like before I met Christ; how I came to know Christ; and what my life was like now that Christ is my Lord and Savior.

The resources below also have posters that can be printed for each class listing their goals for each challenge. Think about it, what if 75 Sunday School members in your church prayed for THREE lost friends? That would be 225 lost people being prayed for throughout the month! What might God do through your church if 75 people learn ONE gospel presentation! What if 75 Sunday School members each invited FIVE people to their class, that’s 375 people invited to your Sunday School! And, what if 75 people in your church shared the gospel with ONE person?

The 3151 Challenge helped this church (and their interim pastor) get excited about the Sunday School doing what the Sunday School already should be doing: reaching, teaching, and ministering to people in Jesus’ Name!

3151 Resources

 

ReGroup 103: Two Things Church Members Need from Their Leaders

Most people in your church, if asked, would say they want their church to fulfill the Great Commission. They want their church to grow. They want to reach the lost. They want to grow in their faith. Sometimes, however, we as leaders don’t give them what they need most to get to the next level personally, in their church and in their community.

Your people need HOPE. They need to know that there is something that God has for them that is better than what they have right now. They need to clearly see what we as leaders are leading them to become and to accomplish. If they can’t see it, how can you motivate them to do what is necessary to make that HOPE a reality? 18 Where there is no vision, the people perish,… Proverbs 29:18 (KJV) Our people need to have hope. Change can’t happen until they believe God has something ahead of them that is worth the effort to change. 7 Now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You. Psalm 39:7 (HCSB)

Your people also need to TRUST you. Trust doesn’t happen instantly. Sometimes, it’s the little things you say or do. It is difficult to lead others when there is doubt about your character or integrity. Over time, people can learn to trust you. People realize that you are looking out for them and not just your own interests. You can’t control what people believe or perceive about you but you can continue every day to live a life that is worthy of their trust. As a leader, people need to know they can trust you to follow you. 14 “I am the good shepherd. I know My own sheep, and they know Me, John 10:14 (HCSB)

You are a shepherd to the sheep that God has given you the privilege to lead. As the Pastor, you are the under-shepherd to Jesus who is the Great Shepherd. Even as Sunday School or Small Group leaders, we too have shepherding responsibilities. Do you know their name? Do they know yours? I am not just talking about their literal name, but the name that your reputation, your character and your integrity give you. Are you Trustworthy? If so, your people need to know where you are leading them and what they will find when we all get there.

ReGroup 102: Three Mistakes Most Sunday School Teachers or Small Group Leaders Make

Most leaders don’t intentionally ignore inactive members of our group/class, lack focus on people who are not a part of our group or don’t pay attention to the life needs of the regular members of our class – but sometimes we do.

Inactive Members

Some people join our group or class and fail for whatever reason to connect with the rest of the members. Some people might even get mad at someone in the group and just quit coming. Others might simply miss a few weeks and just decide it’s easier to stay home than take the time to go to Sunday School or small group. Regardless of the reason, God has still placed these people in our ministry field and thus in our sphere of influence.

Non-members

You do realize that there are people in your church and outside of your church that are potential future members, right? We don’t mean to forget about them but sometimes we get so busy doing other things that we “get out of the habit” of paying attention to those who aren’t part of us yet. After a while, we just get comfortable and stop worrying about it all together. Besides, they know where our church is. If they want to be a part, they can just show up.

Regular Members

These are the people that show up. Most of the time, these are the people who participate in Bible study, activities, fellowships, ministry projects, etc. But what if there were some serious issues in their lives like a marriage falling apart, addictions, depression, anger, a job loss or more. Often times, in the midst of our business we miss the subtle clues that something is not quite right at home.

All of these situations have one thing in common— it’s people. God has called us as leaders to lead a ministry with, through and to PEOPLE. We need to stop focusing so much on what has to be done and start focusing more on those people. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Inactive Members – Chances are that an inactive member will most likely not come back to your class. Instead, focus on ministering to them through prayer and regular contact just to let them know you still care. Who knows, maybe they might come back.
  2. Non-members – Most Sunday School classes and small groups don’t have a prospect list. Why not start one? Every week just ask, “who do you know that might be a potential member of our class?” Put their name on your list and pray for them every week. Who knows, they might just come if you invite them.
  3. Regular Members – Take time to get to know each other. Don’t worry about finishing every bible study lesson. Take the time to share with one another in groups of 2 or 3 people. Plan fellowships that allow time for people to share personal prayer needs in really small groups so they don’t have to share such personal needs in front of the whole group. Who knows, you might just prevent a divorce, help a person through addiction, depression or anger or help someone find a new job.

Sunday School and small groups are about people. Let’s make them our primary focus.

ReGroup 101: Numbers Don’t Lie

Every year, I receive an Annual Church Profile Statistical Information Booklet. This little booklet illustrates the results of the work of our churches throughout Louisiana. The numbers I am drawn to relate to Sunday School and Discipleship Attendance and Enrollment. These numbers are not a “complete” picture of what is going on in our churches throughout the state, but they do show us some trends.

Enrollment is Down

There are fewer people enrolled in Sunday School or small groups now than there were 10 years ago. Actually, the trend is much longer than that. Enrollment can best be illustrated as our “ministry field”. Every week, our class or group has the opportunity to minister to a specific number of people; some of those actually show up each week. Every year, with some exceptions noted, our trend is that there are fewer and fewer people in our “ministry field”. At a time when our population grows, we are having an impact on fewer people’s lives.

Attendance is Down

With a shrinking “ministry field” comes fewer people attending each week. In case you haven’t noticed, classes/groups will average between 40-60% of its enrollment. It is increasingly harder and harder to get church members to not only join a small group or Sunday School class; it is also harder to get them to attend regularly.

The Good News

On the flip side of those numbers is the fact that more and more people value biblical community and want to learn and grow spiritually. People want to “belong.” Connecting new people and lost people to a small group or Sunday School class is one of the most difficult challenges our churches face today. And yet, there are lots and lots of people who wish to experience that on a regular basis.

What do I do?

Start small. The first thing you should decide is to focus more on people than your role or your responsibilities. The object of our ministry is to connect people with God and His people. We all want and need family. Being a part of a family takes a lot of time and hard work. Focus on things that matter the most – prioritize.

PRAY and OBEY

The most important thing you can do right now is to stop and pray that God would reveal to you as a leader how you can reach more people, love more people and disciple more people. He is waiting to lead you in the right direction. BUT, He is waiting on you to actually do what He asks you to do.

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 (HCSB)

Numbers don’t lie. When we are faithful to plant, water and tend to all the things God asks us to do; then, when He is ready—He will give the increase.

Want to see your ministry field expand? Want to see more people regularly engaged in bible study and ministry? Pray! Obey! And SEE God do great and mighty things.

2017 ECON Recap

ECON was historic as we celebrated Harvest! If you missed the conference or you’d like to review the messages of ECON, you came to the right place. Feel free to access all the messages from ECON 2017.

With these videos you can:

  • use them to train and motivate your leaders
  • get inspired again
  • pray through these incredible teachings
  • share with friends

ECON and these resources are brought to you free of charge through your generous gifts to the Cooperative Program.

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.

Harvest

Want Harvest Resources? Click here and submit your info!

depressed-man

He was a friend of mine that had struggled for years. Twice divorced, now alone…  I worked with this man for five years and I knew that he needed what I had.

Then a few days ago I got up the courage to invite him to Harvest. I really didn’t know how he’d react… How would I describe him? Cynical, hurting, a rough exterior.

But I just prayed, “Lord, I am trusting you to do something in this invitation.”

I couldn’t believe it! He said “yes”

And then there came the day, a few week after that. I got to baptize the one I thought didn’t have a chance.


These stories are just waiting to happen

Harvest was birthed in the heart of Gevan Spinney, Pastor of First Baptist Church Haughton. His passion is evangelism and he sense God’s leadership to gather key pastors, evangelists, Directors of Missions, and other leaders to pray and seek God in hopes that a statewide evangelistic strategy could be developed to see Louisiana experience a miraculous harvest of new believers.

How do we get there?

Three Goals

  1. Prayer: We will prayer for EVERY home in Louisiana.
  2. Synergy: We are asking God for 700 churches to work together to see the Harvest become a reality.
  3. Plan: We will create a strategy that is simple, customizable and transferable to any church, association or group.
    • Prayer Events and Strategies
    • Crusades
    • Simultaneous Revivals
    • Harvest Events

“The fields are white unto harvest!” – John 4:35

Imagine a plan to equip and engage every church member was involved in Harvest.

This simple plan allows your members to see prayers answered.

They’ll be motivated to share in this great harvest we are praying will come to Louisiana.

It works through the church’s Sunday School or small groups strategy to disciple members so that they will become exactly what Jesus called His small group of disciples to be: harvesters!

Connect to the Harvest.

Pastors: fill out the form below and receive resources pertaining to the Harvest!

 


Project 3151 is designed to help promote evangelism through groups. Download the brochure below.

Hot Louisiana Summer Outreach Ideas

Along with Vacation Bible School, summer offers us some great opportunities for outreach and seed planting in our communities. Here’s a few that I’ve tried or learned from other Louisiana churches:

Water Bottles for Front Yard Lawn Mowers
Fill a few ice chests full of ice cold water or Gatorade, then head out on Saturday morning and watch for people working in their front yard. Interrupt them by giving them a bottle and a small connection card to your church. I promise they won’t mind.

Face Painting or Balloon Animals at Local Festivals
Every Louisiana community has a festival, car show, farmers market or something. Add to the gathering by offering something fun for kids. Face painting is easy for almost anyone. Poll your team for other talents that might be unique and entertaining. Don’t forget to have invite cards to your church or Bible study.

Fun for Kids at Multi-housing Complexes
If you haven’t already, you should get to know the managers at local multi-housing complexes. They’re often required by upper management to provide events for the park and in my experience they are stressed about that! Offer to help by extending a VBS activity or showing up with a snow cone machine or bounce house a few times over the summer. It’s a great way to build some relationships and show the community your church cares.

Snow Cones at Local Daycares
Private daycares are usually very open to engagement with churches. Especially if you offer free snow cones for every child in the afternoon! Snow cone machines rent for $100 or so, check around to see if another local church has one, or if you’re part of a Baptist association, they may have a block party trailer equipped with a snow cone machine plus more. Ask the daycare if they’ll send home an invite card or event invite from your church in backpacks in return.

Outdoor Movie Nights
Pick an area park, backyard, subdivision common space, and a short movie. Outdoor movie screens can be purchased for around $200. Projectors are available from partner churches or your local association. Pop popcorn and show the latest family friendly movie that has come out in theaters and a crowd is usually easy to draw. Our church gives away microwave popcorn with a sticker that says “Pop In On Us Sunday” inviting people to our church.

New Resident Welcome Baskets
If families are relocating, chances are they’re trying to do it during the summer. Help your members get their eyes open for the houses for sale around them and watch for new people moving in. Prepare a welcome basket with things that would be helpful for new movers and new residents in your community, along with a connection card from your church. This also helps your members to make early connections and build relationships with their new neighbors.

Hurricane Prep for Local Mobile Home Parks.
Great men’s group project. Connect with a local trailer park and offer to cut low-hanging limbs back away from trailers in the run up to hurricane season. This is a great service to residents and management that will never be forgotten. Pole saws rent for $125 or so and probably at least one guy in your group has a chainsaw.

Free Movie Day for Stay-at-home-moms with Kids
Turn your church or a local meeting hall into a free cinema for the afternoon. Show a favorite kid movie with popcorn and box drinks. There’s probably a local mom’s Facebook group that you can spread the word through.

Outdoor Summer Concert
If your church or community has a nice green space, find a local musician or band (no shortage of those in Louisiana) and throw a free sunset concert. Offer free drinks and invite cards to your churches gathering.

There’s really no right or wrong way to reach out and make contact with people for the sake of the Gospel. We only fail if we don’t try. Praying for many seeds sown across our state this summer!

Got other ideas for summer outreach? Don’t be stingy. Please share.

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.

ECON 2016 Resources