Keys to Effective Disaster Relief

Spring and Fall are times when weather patterns become unpredictable. Whether its Tornadoes in the plains, Fires in the west or flooding in the south, opportunities to lend a helping hand to your fellow man abound. When the day comes that images of wreckage and loss splash across the news and your heart is moved to help, don’t forget to pause, take a breath and look over these ten commandments of disaster relief.

Ten commandments of Disaster Relief

  1. Thou shalt contact your local church, student organization and/or charitable organization and offer your help. Ask your church to set up a collection area for bottled water, shovels, plastic gloves and breathing masks. You may also ask for a special account to collect financial donations.
  2. Thou shalt not become a lone wolf. Working in cooperation with other relief agencies is the best way to provide positive change and avoid a disaster of your own.
  3. Thou shalt not ignore the advice of experts. Disaster conditions change. If you’re not listening to regular reports then you may find yourself in a terrible spot and in need of rescue.
  4. Thou shalt not forget to have an escape plan. Sure, you can get in, but can you get out? Have you factored in that restaurants, gas stations, ATM’s are not working?
  5. Thou shalt not drink any water in a disaster zone. Even tap water can be contaminated. Carry your own water in and have enough so share.
  6. Thou shalt not walk or drive through flowing water. Most deaths in floods occur when people enter flowing water. It’s a bad idea, don’t do it.
  7. Thou shalt not donate clothes. Sounds counter intuitive but relief agencies get loaded down with unclaimed clothes and wind up throwing most of it away. Most groups post a needs list and your gift will be more useful if you stick to it.
  8. Thou shalt donate to legitimate charities. Every disaster has looters and scammers. You can look up legit charities with the Better Business Bureau, United Way, etc.
  9. Thou shalt continue to help long term. The need for recovery resources continue long after the media’s coverage has ended. Look for ways to continue to help others in need.
  10. Thou shalt pray for everyone. Pray for the victims, volunteers, extended family, government officials, and anyone else you can think of.

The Super Bowl Faith Fleaflicker

Larry is a classic introvert. He’d rather sit through a three-hour timeshare sales pitch than strike up a conversation about eternity on the fly. But he’d been praying for months about Daryl, an associate at the firm. He knew Daryl wasn’t a believer, and he felt compelled to reach out and invite him.

“Go to church?” Daryl responded when Larry invited him to a men’s Bible study, “I’d rather watch paint dry.”

It was obvious that Larry’s associate wasn’t interested in church. He had recently gone through a divorce and was starting over at 35. Larry felt completely blown off by the sudden shutdown. The whole thing hurt his pride but eased his conscience. At least he tried.

A couple of weeks later at a company Super Bowl Party, Larry had completely recovered from his seeming failure. Larry told it this way:

In the third quarter, the game cut away for the usual Madison Avenue Super Bowl Commercials and, unlike most games, everybody quieted down and tuned in because, as everybody knows, these commercials are almost as entertaining as the game. Then it happened. A simple 30 second spot showing a disconnected man being invited by his granddaughter to church. The commercial ended with the words, “Louisiana Baptists, We’re here for you.” A couple of days later Daryl popped in my office to ask for directions to the Bible study. It was like God tossed the ball to me when I least expected it. It was like a faith Flea-Flicker.

Stories like this happen because of your generous gifts to the Georgia Barnette State Missions Offering.

It’s easy to wonder about how money we give to charities is used but you can be sure that the money you give to this offering makes a huge difference. How huge?

It helped us through one of the most difficult seasons of disaster Louisiana has experienced. And even in the midst of sorrow we saw:

  • 15 Professions of Faith
  • 72 Gospel Presentations
  • 1,302 Total Contact

You also helped fund new church plants so that new pastors could plant seeds in underserved areas of Louisiana. Those seeds bore fruit!

In 2017 New Church plants saw:

  • 1,419 New Commitments to Christ!
  • 512 Baptisms!

Since 2010:

  • 210 New Churches!
  • 12,054 New Commitments to Christ!
  • 3,172 Baptisms!

And that’s just a small portion of what God is doing. The really exciting stories are the little ones happening all over Louisiana – stories like Larry and Daryl’s.

Starting an Associational Church Planting Movement

Good strategy should create the right conditions for a church multiplication movement to reach every people group & population segment in our communities. Here’s five steps to an associational strategy for church multiplication:

Step 1: Mobilize an Associational Missions or Church Planting Team.
Intentionality will be best maintained by men & women with a heart for missions & church multiplication who work in concert with the Director of Missions & other partners to strategize for reaching the lost in the area.

Step 2: Conduct an Area-Wide Feasibility Study or Probe.
A probe of the area should include intense demographic & ecclesiographic research. To maximize buy in, it may also include organizing a vision tour or windshield survey across the area with Pastors & church leaders. A probe may also include polling pastors & staff members & key leaders in the community about the need for new churches & ministries in the region.

Step 3: Map the Strategy based on the Probe.
Combining extensive data collection with soundbites from organized efforts to determine needs, the church planting team should then be ready to go to a map & start pinpointing potential locations for churches & ministries. The LBC Engage Map can be a great tool for this & church planting priorities can immediately be available for recruiting planters & resources to projects determined by the the Church Planting Team via the world wide web.

Step 4: Discover & Develop qualified planters & team members.
Once we know who we need to reach & where, we can best determine who we need to be looking & praying for to take on the mission of planting a church in that area. It will also help the state convention in planning resources & training events that will best assist planting in the region. Armed with data & vision for meeting the specific needs of communities we can be more intentional in gathering resources & recruiting partners & team members.

Step 5: Network church planting leaders & enthusiasts for celebration, encouragement, health, & recruitment.
Engaging the lost community through church planting will lead to stories that need to be told, wounds & scars that need to be healed, & greater interest in diving into the church planting pool. A regular network meeting in the region will be a great tool to keep the movement going & keep points going onto the map & multiplication of disciples, groups, & churches going for years to come.

Utilizing this strategy, one of our Louisiana associations has started 14 new churches since 2000, with only one failed plant. That’s a 93% success rate! The Louisiana Baptists Missions & Ministry Team is here to assist with 10-3-1 Strategy Development. We can assist you & your team with each of these steps as we move toward a strategy that engages every person in Louisiana with the Gospel.

5 Things All Louisiana Residents Simply Must Do

We don’t like to think about the fact that a hurricane might be on the radar in the next couple of months. The majority of the storms we experience in Louisiana have landed in August and September. Thus, we need to understand that the heart of the storm season is before us so we must act now  to be prepared. Here are some suggestions:

1. Put together an emergency supply kit that includes items like water and non-perishable foods, flashlights with batteries and first-aid supplies. Usually figure one gallon of water per person per day. Up to three days supply is a rule of thumb to figure the amount of supplies needed.

2. Secure any outdoor objects that could blow away during a storm. Secure your windows and doors. Storm Shutters are a great idea. Also consider trimming your trees and inspecting your roof.

3. Protect your computers, TVs and other electronic equipment with surge protectors. It’s also a good choice to back all of your valueable computer data on a cloud service such as Dropbox, I-Cloud, Google Drive or OneDrive

4. Preplan a safe place to go if evacuation is required.  Be sure to notify your family so they know where you will be.

5. And finally… Let’s pray before a hurricane or a flood is immanent. Pray for Louisiana Baptist Disaster Relief workers to be available to serve. Pray for protection and opportunities. God works in times of disaster. Let’s pray that even in the midst of disaster, people will come to know Jesus as their Savior. By the way, maybe God is calling you to serve by attending a training event in your area. Pray for our first responders as well.

Louisiana Baptist Disaster Relief will respond when needed.  We work with other agencies to provide assistance.

Georgia Barnette is at Work!

(Posted May 8, 2017)

Our Louisiana Baptists State Missions Offering, the Georgia Barnette Offering, is a great spark for missions all over Louisiana. In 2016, we receive $1.58 million for the offering and this money is already at work across our state in 2017. Here’s some of the current expenditures:

  • $15k in scholarships for ministerial students.
  • $20k to help new churches and missions centers with equipment needs.
  • $159k in church planting and compassion ministry funding for over 100 projects currently in years 1-3.
  • $34k in funding for the Mission Builder program providing construction resources churches across Louisiana.
  • $18k for church planting networking and training for non-english language groups in Louisiana.
  • $8k for African-American church planting development.
  • $6k for Men’s, Women’s, and Kids Missions training and networking.
  • $90k for special evangelism projects including Prison outreach and Block Party and Event support
  • $85k for Collegiate Ministry, including the brand new BCM at Southern University in Baton Rouge.
  • $30k for the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary Extension at Angola State Penitentiary.
  • $9k for ESL (English as a Second Language), Multi-housing, and Chaplaincy training and projects across Louisiana.
  • $7k for Disaster Relief Training and Projects
  • $150k for the Here For You Media campaign.

Still around $927k to be distributed over the next 8 months! It’s always a lot of fun to watch the Georgia Barnette offering at work! Find out more about the Georgia Barnette State Missions Offering at GeorgiaBarnette.org. Promotional material for the 2017 Offering will be available in July. Watch for opportunities to give through your church this Fall. Let’s be faithful to provide this spark for missions in Louisiana!

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Making Big Plans for Easter

Celebration Church’s St. Bernard Campus has grown from 110 in 2009 to 485 in 2016 in weekly average attendance. Easter Sunday attendance has grown from 206 to 1,380 in that time frame, serving as a great catalyst for overall growth. Patrick Eagan, Celebration St. Bernard’s Campus Pastor, recently spent some time coaching church planters in the Baton Rouge area on how to make the most out of Easter. Get Patrick’s Notes HERE. This can serve as a great playbook for planning Easter or other Big Attendance weekends at your church. Patrick said, “Most of us will not be able to double our weekend attendance by simply praying harder and trying harder.” We need a plan! Here are a few great starter questions for planning from Patrick’s presentation:

  1. What would it look like at your church if the fullness of the power of God met the fullness of the efforts of man?
  2. If you successfully doubled your weekend attendance, would there be room for everyone?
  3. Is it possible to add worship services to your usual line up?
  4. What is the long-term growth vision for your church?
  5. What is the challenging but reasonable goal for your end of year attendance?
  6. How will you identify and follow-up with guests on Easter Sunday?
  7. What specific elements of the worship service will encourage guests to come back?
  8. What post-Easter events can we leverage guests toward?

Get the whole doc and do what you can to get ready for a big weekend of planting seeds and growing God’s kingdom. Always grateful for Celebration Church and their generosity of lessons learned and best practices.

By the Numbers: 2016 Louisiana Baptist Church Planting Report

Louisiana Baptists finished 2016, with 33 churches planted across our state. Surpassing our goal of 30 for the second straight year. We are grateful for a great spirit of multiplication happening across Louisiana.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • 4 in North Louisiana, 29 in South Louisiana.
  • 15 in New Orleans, 7 on the I-12, 4 in Baton Rouge, 2 in Lake Charles, 2 in Central LA, 1 in Lafayette, 1 in Houma/Thibodaux, 1 on I-20.
  • 12 Anglo, 15 African-American, 3 Multi-Ethnic, 2 Hispanic, 1 Asian.
  • 7 Multi-Site Developments, 6 Re-Plants
  • $1.3 million in Cooperative Funding invested in Church Planting supplements.
  • $330,000 in Georgia Barnette State Missions Offering Grants invested in Church Plants.

In 2016, 95 Church Plants in years 1-3 received Cooperative funding through the Louisiana Baptists Missions and Ministries office. These plants reported:

  • 1,329 New Commitments to Christ & 384 Baptisms
  • 26,933 Evangelistic Contacts
  • $222,289 given to the Cooperative Program and $72,948 to local associations.

How are we doing region by region:
2016 Church Planting Report by Region

Since 2010:

  • 163 new churches have been planted. 34 north LA, 129 south LA, 41 in New Orleans. Only 137 more to go to meet our goal of 300 by 2020!
  • 97, or 60%, of church plants have been non-Anglo. 51 African-American, 26 Hispanic, 9 Asian, 11 Other.
  • We’re up to 20 Multi-site Congregations and 21 RePlants (plants on church properties that had closed or were near closure).
  • 2,671 Baptisms have been reported. That’s 32 baptisms every month, 7 baptisms every week, in church plants years 1-3.
  • Churches have been planted in 77 Louisiana cities and towns and 21 of 32 Louisiana Baptist Associations since.

Looking forward to another great year of multiplication in Louisiana and beyond. Jump in and start your churches church planting journey at MultiplyLA.com.

 

On Sponsoring a New Church (Pt. 2)

In case you missed it, read Part 1 here.

 

How does the sponsor church relate to the new church?

An area that sometimes creates conflict is the relationship between the sponsor church and the new church.  A lack of clear expectations, mutually agreed upon lines of accountability, and good communication could turn the church planting experience from a blessing into a disappointment for both the sponsor and the planter.  Before a church decides to enter into a partnership to plant a new church, the following questions should be addressed:

  1. Doctrinal and methodological issues:
  • Are the planter and the new church in doctrinal agreement with the sponsor church? Has the planter read and understood the Baptist Faith and Message 2000?
  • Does the sponsor church understand and accept the methods and style of the new church regarding worship, outreach, discipleship, etc?
  1. Facilities, finances, and legal issues:
  • If the new church is meeting in the sponsor’s facilities, have logistical issues been discussed and agreed upon?  Will rent be paid?  Will help with utility bills be expected?  Is there a plan for the new church to grow into greater responsibility?  There needs to be an understanding about use of facilities, when they are available, who can have keys and access, scheduling of facilities, maintenance, etc.  Is a written agreement in place?
  • Who will handle the new church’s finances?  Is there someone (other than the planter and/or his wife!) who is qualified to handle money?  Is the new church ready to have its own bank account?  How will tithes and offerings be handled?  Is there a plan for the church to take over its own finances?  Who will approve the new church’s budget and expenditures?
  • Who will handle Cooperative Program and other missions giving?
  • What kind of access will the planter and the new church have to the office equipment, telephones, and supplies of the sponsor church?  Is this clearly understood?
  • Do any insurance, liability, social security, annuity, or legal issues need to be dealt with?
  • Is the new church ready to legally incorporate?
  • Is there a clear understanding on how and when funding checks from the sponsor, the association, and the state convention will be handled?
  1. Accountability:
  • What will be the planter’s relationship to the sponsor church’s staff?  Will he be considered a staff member?  Will he be expected to attend staff meetings?  If not, is there a time and a person the planter will be meeting with regularly?
  • If the new church is not meeting in the sponsor church’s facilities, is distance a factor in accountability?
  • Are there other partners besides the sponsor church involved, i.e. co-sponsor churches, local association, state convention?  Are expectations and relationships clear to the planter and to the primary sponsor?  Is the planter free to seek other churches as partners?
  • Does the planter have a relationship with a church planting coach?  Does the sponsor understand this?
  1. Cultural issues:
  • If the new church is of a different language, ethnic, or cultural group, has the sponsor church made every effort to understand cultural differences?  These issues may include communication styles, worship styles, decision making styles, time perspectives, accountability and responsibility perspectives, perspectives on planning, scheduling, and setting goals, discipline of children, dress, use of facilities, food, and many others.
  • Have the sponsor church and new church agreed to seek to understand each other’s differences?  Do they both agree that all cultures are under the judgment of Scripture?
  • If language is an obstacle to communication, is there someone available to act as a translator?

It should be emphasized that every situation is different.  It is important for the sponsor, the planter, and all other partners to discuss these issues before the church is launched and funding begins and to regularly review progress and challenges and to make adjustments as necessary.

On Sponsoring a New Church (Pt. 1)

Too often churches assume that it takes a lot of money to be a church-planting church.  The reality is that any church, no matter the size, the age, or the socioeconomic level, can be involved in some way in church planting.  Some sponsoring opportunities involve:

When we have little to no financial resources to contribute: 

  1. Prayer:  A church can join a planter’s intercessory prayer team.
  2. Encouragement:  A sponsor church can offer encouragement to the planter and his family by writing notes of encouragement, by providing support during difficult times, by having them over for a meal, etc.
  3. Legitimacy:  Since a new church is required to have an official primary sponsor church, sometimes a church with limited financial resources can serve as the legitimizing spokesperson for a qualified church planter.
  4. Space:  Many sponsor churches can offer meeting room in their facilities, especially for a new ethnic church start.
  5. Material Resources:  Sometimes a sponsor church can offer a one-time gift of Bibles, discipleship literature, sound equipment, chairs, etc.

Options when some regular monetary support can be provided:

  1. Sole sponsorship:  One church takes on full responsibility for planting a new church.  No help is needed or sought from other churches or denominational entities.
  2. Sole sponsorship with partners:  One church takes on the primary responsibility for planting a new church but also seeks financial assistance from denominational partners.
  3. Multiple sponsorship:  Several churches in a particular area join efforts as a cluster to plant new churches.  They share financial support at varying levels.  This option may or may not involve denominational partners.
  4. Networking:  Several churches spread across the state may agree to join efforts to plant churches in strategic areas.  Again, they share financial support with or without denominational partners.
  5. Adoption:  A church may choose to join an existing sponsorship arrangement by financially supporting a new church already in progress.
  6. Church Planting Center:  In a few instances, a church or network of churches may want to establish a center for church planter discovery, development, and deployment.

There’s no right or wrong way to get involved in church planting. Jump in as God leads your congregation. Contact us about church plants that are in need of partners.

Read Part 2

God Gave the Gift of PRESENCE

The story of Christmas is foundational for understanding Christianity in so many ways. God sent his very best, his own Son Jesus Christ – the God-man – on a daring rescue mission. In need of rescue was the human race including you and I.

The mission included a display of love that led to the willing death of an innocent Rescuer for the sake of those he loved. In the end, the Rescuer wins the day, defeating all the bad guys, including death, sin, guilt, and Satan (Colossians 2:13-15, Hebrews 2:14-15).

Here’s the real kicker: Now God desires that we repeat the process of being sent, loving, sacrificing, and rescuing through announcing/retelling this story to all (John 21:20, Acts 1:8, Philippians 2:3-5).

When God wanted to save the world, he sent himself. He gave PRESENCE. Today, he continues to give presence to the world through those he has rescued.

Here’s three lessons we learn about life ON MISSION from God’s giving to us at Christmas. These can become filters for our lives and our churches as we seek to live with a missionary posture toward our community.

1. God gave the gift of PROXIMITY.

John 1:14 in the Message paraphrase says, “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.” Jesus laid aside the privileges of deity to draw near to us, walk in our shoes, and die in our place.

One of the great promises of Christmas is that we do not serve a God that’s distant, that’s removed from our problems and trials. He experienced them and He overcame them (Hebrews 4:15, John 16:33).

Does your current lifestyle allow you to live in proximity to the needs of others? Does your church live out its mission in proximity to the needs of the community?

Jesus went so much further than, “They know where we are if they need us.” He was always touching those he wasn’t supposed to touch and sharing life with those he wasn’t supposed to share life with. In a world filled with lonely hearts, we need to give presence and live out the gift of proximity.

2. God gave the gift of RESPONSIVENESS..

God gave in response to our deepest need.

To respond to the needs of others requires you to forget about yourself a bit. That’s exactly what Jesus did – Philippians 2:7 says, “He made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant.”

Jesus didn’t have an entitlement mentality – and if anyone was ever justified in feeling entitled to privileges and perks it should have been the Son of God – but he had a slavery mentality, becoming the lowest of the low in response to my need.

Does your current lifestyle and church culture allow you to be responsive to the needs of others? The priest and Levite in the story of the Good Samaritan most likely had legitimate excuses for not responding to the needs of the man lying in the road with huge needs. They had busy schedules – there’s no time for this; they were in a bad part of town; they had no training in basic life support.

It was the Samaritan that demonstrated to heart of God and responded to the needs, laying aside self and becoming a servant.

3. God’s generosity was RADICAL.

In the Christmas story we learn that God is a radical giver.

John 3:16 says it best, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” And we see in Philippians 2:8, that Jesus willing became a radical giver for you and I – “He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

God held nothing back for you and I. He gave it all.

What aspects of our lives can be considered radical? Is it the area of generosity? Desire for God? Desire for others to know the truth?


Presence, proximity, responsiveness, radical generosity – the story of Christ and Christmas.