What’s So Great About the Great Commission?

Hudson Taylor, missionary to China in the 1800’s, may have been the one to popularize the term Great Commission for Jesus’ last command to his followers on earth.

Matthew 28:18-20 CSB – “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

What’s so great about the Great Commission? For starters:

  • Jesus said it. This is a directive straight from the Master himself. And it’s the last words he left with his followers. This statement makes it clear what Jesus wanted and expected the cause of our lives to be as his people until his return.
  • It’s repeated in all four gospels. The four gospels vary on some details about the life of Jesus. Some version of this Great Commission is repeated in all of them, as well as in the beginning of Acts. This tells us that this statement left an indelible mark on his followers & served as a highlight of Jesus’ teaching in their hearts and minds.
  • If we obey it, people are changed for eternity.Obedience to the great commission means communicating the gospel which will result in people being included in eternal life in Heaven forever. Neglect means the opposite.
  • Jesus did it and so did his first followers.If we want to follow the example of Christ and the early church, we’ll busy ourselves with going, making disciples, baptizing, and teaching them to obey the commands of Christ.
  • If you’re a Christian today, it’s because someone else took it seriously.

The question is: Do I live like this commission is GREAT? Do I take it seriously? Does my church take it seriously? Unfortunately, many of us as Christians LIVE like the Great Commission is NO BIG DEAL.

How can we make Jesus’ commission GREAT?

  • Get serious about how to be and make disciples.
  • Give to and pray for those who are on the front lines of making disciples worldwide.
  • Take responsibility for your home, neighborhood, and work place.
  • Use your gifts to serve through a local church that is purposing to make disciples.
  • Pray for those around you and look for opportunities to start conversations about the gospel.

Pray for Eastern Louisiana Baptist Association

Associational Mission Strategist: Richard Blue

  • Covers most of Livingston Parish.
  • Major cities are Denham Springs and Walker
  • 140,789 souls reside in the Eastern Louisiana Baptist Association.
  • 5% of the population, or 44,359, are evangelicals.
  • 72,788 or 52% of the population are listed as none’s or non-affiliated with any church.
  • 5,488, or 3.9% of the population, attended the 44 SBC churches in the Eastern Louisiana Baptist Association in 2019.
  • 8 new SBC churches have been planted in the Eastern Louisiana Baptist Association since 2010.

Church to Population ratio is 1 to 3,200. 5 new churches would be needed to get to our statewide ratio of 1 to 2,850. 26 new churches would be needed to get to NAMB’s suggested ratio of 1 to 2,000.

Livingston Parish has been one of the fastest growing parishes in Louisiana over the last 20 years, experiencing a growth rate of 10% annually. Devastating floods in 2016, which saw 80% of the land in the parish flooded, has not slowed the growth. Pray for the pastors and churches of the Eastern Louisiana Baptist 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 on the Northshore.

How to Add Missions to What You Are Already Doing

If you survey the average churchgoer and ask if their church is involved in missions, it would be safe to assume that many are. Some would respond that yes, they are taking trips worldwide to share God’s love, and others would say that they give to various mission offerings.

We see that missions is the work of God through the church by which the gospel of Jesus Christ is extended in word and deed to all people in the world. If a person is born again, they have been given a particular assignment by God. Matthew 28:19–20 reads, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Jesus has commanded every believer to take the gospel into all the world. It is essential to help students understand the biblical basis for missions.

A recent statistic states that the average church attender frequents the church twice a month. If you think about it, you begin to understand that we as leaders have to make the most of the time that we have with our students. Once we reach them with the gospel and teach them about how God is at work globally, we can begin to share a biblical worldview and global perspective with our students.

If you are not able to have year-round missions discipleship in your student groups, here are ways that leaders can add missions to what you are already doing:

Missionary Speakers

Begin by examining your network. Do you have a connection to a North American Mission Board or International Mission Board missionary? Has a missionary been sent from your church? Your local association and Louisiana Baptists can point you in the right direction.

Weeks of Prayer

Teach students about the state, national and international weeks of prayer. Georgia Barnette State Missions Offering, Annie Armstrong Easter Offering, and Lottie Moon Christmas Offering student lessons are written to correspond with these weeks. Help students understand the importance of giving to these offerings by showing them videos, pictures, and information on how this money is used to further God’s Kingdom.

Mission Camps

When planning for summer camp, do you have option to select one with a strong missions emphasis? Is the particular camp leading students to understand how they can move from just learning about missions to engaging in mission action and witnessing?

Mission Projects

Getting students to understand the needs of their community is key to their understanding of missions. You can ask yourself three questions:

  • What people live in the area?
  • What resources are available in my church/association?
  • What other ministries exist in the community?

When you ask these questions, you may discover many different types of community missions such as tutoring, food ministries, clothes closets, literacy trainings, and so much more!

Mission Trips

A great way to help people with a heart for the world is through firsthand exposure to missions and missionaries through short-term mission experiences. Missions becomes real to people when they go. If your group is preparing for a trip, mission team training is vital. CARRY ON by Libby Quigg (chapter 7) explains how this is done. The International Mission Board website also has excellent resources.

Share a Missions Story

Has a team in your church arrived home from serving on the mission field? Invite them to share their experience with the students and recall how they saw God at work. This gives the team time to debrief and allows the student to know that all members can pray, some give, and some go.

Students on Mission

Did you know that WMU is offering a way to target co-ed group leaders looking for ways to teach and engage students in missions? Missions Journey: Students’ curriculum includes a missions story, video, debrief, activity, and prayer time. This is an excellent resource for ways to drop in relevant missions material.

As we are going, telling, and making disciples of all nations, explore ways to teach others what it means to cultivate a mission’s lifestyle. Let’s join God at work and have some missions fun!

DR Training in Jennings Moved to Next Weekend

Because of the inclement weather, we have moved the DR Training in Jennings from this weekend, Feb. 19-20, to next weekend, Feb. 26-27.

For more information about this event, and to register for one of the trainings, click here.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

DON’T Stop the Spread!

“But the word of God spread and multiplied.” Acts 12:24

Researchers say that each person infected with Coronavirus can spread it to 3 others rapidly. If those 3 each spread it to three and each of those spread it to 3, in 10 cycles, you’re at 59,000!

This is similar to how the gospel spread after the coming of the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts. Would that this were still true of believers spreading the gospel today. God has not placed protective measures in place to stop the spread of our faith. We do that by remaining silent, socially distancing from the lost, and leaving the spread to professionals. The curve has flattened on the growth of churches and we are responsible. If you believe, think of three to infect with the gospel message today. You may start a viral movement of transformation across your community.

Contact us for information about Evangelism Resources, Church Multiplication and Revitalization Training Opportunities, or to tell stories of the Gospel’s spread in your community.

Ten Great Ways to Plan and Lead a Student Mission Trip

Four years ago, I went on a mission trip to New York City with a group of Acteens (teen girls) from First Baptist Church of Minden, Louisiana! Beyond all the lights, cameras, and action, we quickly realized that the Big Apple was a place with significant needs and ministry opportunities.

With a population size of over eight million people, New York City’s needs were vastly overwhelming, but God is at work, and He has equipped believers to carry out His mission.

As I prepared for this trip, I discovered ten key ways to plan for and lead a student mission trip.

  1. Pray

Always seek God’s guidance and be sure that He is leading you on this trip. Scripture to help prepare your heart is: “Pray without ceasing” 1 Thessalonians 5:17 and “Put on the full armor of God” Ephesians 5:11-13.

  1. Choose a Destination

Begin by examining your network. Do you have a connection to a North American Mission Board or International Mission Board missionary? Has a missionary been sent out from your church? Has a team been on a mission trip where they felt a connection to the people? Check out www.peoplegroups.info to find people groups in your potential place of service. Some unreached people group you desire to reach may have a significant population of their kin here in the United States.

  1. Choose a Project

The most effective short-term mission trip is always in the context of an ongoing, long-term partnership relationship. We see a missions partnership in the book of Philippians.

Mission Partnership models the church body doctrine (unity), offers ownership, and is an expression of being intentional, practical, and strategic. Always seek to be a help and not a hindrance to the missions efforts.

  1. Identify Mission Team Members

Who are the individuals in your church that have expressed and demonstrated a heart for missions? Invite them to a social and share your vision of a mission team that God can use. Set high standards/requirements and stick to them. Show each potential member what is expected of them and construct a covenant. Is everyone ready for teamwork?

  1. Develop a Timeline

Know the result of the trip at the very beginning of planning. Make sure that God is glorified in everything that you do. CARRY ON by Libby Quigg (Chapter 2) is an excellent resource to help you pace your trip preparations.

  1. Train Your Team

When training your team, it is always helpful to cover team member testimonies, practical details, packing, working on-site, being flexible, evangelism preparedness, and trip logistics. CARRY ON by Libby Quigg (Chapter 7) explains how this is done.

  1. Involve the Whole Church

Invite the entire church to be involved in this mission trip. We know that all members can pray, some give, and some go. Encourage the congregation to pray, collect supplies, prepare ministry materials, and donate things. Develop or download a 30-day prayer guide and enlist a prayer team while you are gone. You can also have a commissioning service for your team.

  1. Working on the Field

To be most useful to the people that you are trying to reach, always remember to pray continually, have an orientation upon arrival, and stay connected as a mission team. Learn about the culture/language and ask thoughtful questions. Minister to those you meet. Bringing a care package to the missionary or pastor is always sweet.

  1. Cultural Taboos

Each country is different and unique. It is wise to read about the country or people group before you leave home. Understanding national pride, respecting taboos and customs, and not making promises you cannot keep will help you in the long run.

  1. Arriving Back at Home

Arriving back at home can be challenging for any group. Always remember to share your experience with the church and recall how you saw God at work. Taking time to debrief and helping team members readjust to life back at home allows them time to process what took place. One way to stay connected with field personnel is through post-trip follow up.

Help leaders to understand that missions have many components and consists of more than just an annual mission trip or mission project. Focusing only on mission trips without ever focusing on praying for or supporting missions would be detrimental to the church’s overall missions education.

Questions that I ask before going on any mission trip are:

  • Why do I want to go on a mission trip?
  • Do I sense God’s leading in this direction? Are the right doors opening?
  • Am I willing to be stretched physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually?
  • Am I willing to give up my rights regarding comfort to serve others?

Throughout Scripture, we are called to be disciple-makers. In the Bible, some things are mandates. We see Jesus give a commission to believers after His resurrection in Matthew 28:19–20.  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

Jesus has commanded every believer to take the gospel into all the world. That is where we fit in: to make disciples and share the good news of Jesus.

Church Planting and Compassion Ministry Projects Continue Across Louisiana

The Louisiana Baptists Missions Support Committee met this week as part of the Louisiana Baptist Annual Meeting. The Committee heard reports from Missions and Ministry Strategists and approved financial supplements for 46 Church Planting and Compassion Ministry Projects across Louisiana for 2021. In the midst of a difficult year, still much historic kingdom work and great cooperation happening around the state. We are grateful for the Louisiana Baptist Churches that give to the Cooperative Program and the Georgia Barnette State Missions Offering that make this work possible.

35 new churches were approved for supplement in 2021, bringing the total of new churches started since 2010 to 271.

The 35 new churches include:

  • 14 Replants or new churches started on a church property that was closed or near closure. Replanting has grown every year across Louisiana as churches reach the difficult decisions that come with long seasons of decline. Restarting or replanting these churches is a great option for every church in need of radical revitalization. Check out LouisianaBaptists.org/RePlantReady for more resources on RePlanting.
  • 23 non-anglo churches, including 14 African-American churches, 7 Hispanic churches, 2 Asian churches. Our desire to increase diversity of the churches in our convention, has led to 55% of new churches since 2010 being non-anglo. The goal of reaching every people group in our state with the gospel is coming to fruition through church planting.
  • 10 of the 35 meet in a space shared with another congregation. Sharing facilities is a great way to be a part of multiplying disciples, leaders, and churches.

We are looking forward to 2021. 21 new churches in the pipeline already. We are praying that the adversity of 2020, will lead to great growth and fruitfulness in 2021.

Disaster Relief Report Video

Many people expressed interest in downloading the Disaster Relief video shown during Dr. Horn’s report at the Louisiana Baptist Convention Annual Meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 10. It is available below to watch and download. Enjoy!

The Vision Thing

If there is one thing we as pastors and churches should be doing right now, it is clarifying the vision and mission for the future of our churches. Pre-covid 19, the decline in the SBC and in evangelicalism has been well documented year by year. In 2019, baptisms dropped another 20% in Louisiana, Bible Study attendance was below 100,000 for the third straight year, and more churches closed for good, bringing the total in Louisiana to 125 since 2015. Covid-19 may be fast forwarding our decline as churches slowly reopen with smaller crowds. Vision and visionary leaders are desperately needed for today.

In his book The Vision Driven Leader, Michael Hyatt lists the pitfalls of vision-less organizations. He says, without vision we…,

  1. Are unprepared for the future
  2. Miss opportunities
  3. Suffer scattered priorities
  4. Waste money, time, and effort

Here is the positive impact of 2020. The last eight months have helped us think hard about the future, consider new opportunities, prioritize ministries, and sharpen our focus. Now is the time to clarify the vision.

Are you crystal clear about the vision, missions, and values of your church? And are you communicating it in a clear and compelling way in this season of uncertainty?

Of course, Jesus has given us as church leaders a head start, with the global vision to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19-20). We can’t and shouldn’t try to improve on his vision. However, we can contextualize it for our church specifically and communicate it in a compelling and moving way to the people we lead.

How do I clarify the vision for my church?

  1. Get clear on the vision of Jesus for the world found in the Great Commission.
  2. Get alone with God and ask Him for a clear vision for your church and community.
  3. Jump ahead three to five years and imagine a better future for the people in your community through Great Commission obedience.
  4. Write a three to five paragraph script of what that future looks like in the present tense.
  5. Share that vision with your leaders as though you were inviting them on a journey.

Writing about your church in five years, try starting like this: “________ Baptist Church is filled with people who are new to faith in Christ.” What else can you imagine for your church and community?

For additional clarity on vision and writing a vision script, check out Michael Hyatt’s great book, The Vision Driven Leader: 10 Questions to Focus Your Efforts, Energize Your Team, and Scale Your Business.

If you’re ready to get more strategic as a leader in this new day, check out the Multiply Louisiana Cohorts, kicking off in 2021. Connect with a network of other pastors and ministry leaders who are honing their vision, developing a strategic plan, raising up leaders, and looking afresh at their communities and churches through historical and demographic data. Connect with an Informational Meeting for Multiply Louisiana Cohorts, here: https://louisianabaptists.org/get-strategic-in-2021-connect-with-a-multiply-louisiana-pastors-cohort/.

Get Strategic in 2021: Connect with a Multiply Louisiana Pastors Cohort

2020 has changed everything. Now more than ever, churches need strategic leadership to rebuild and revitalize ministries in our new normal. Over the last four years, churches and leaders have grown through networking and collaborating together through Multiply Louisiana Cohorts. These cohorts have brought together like-minded pastors and ministry leaders who are seeking to revitalize and replant churches, multiply leaders and groups, and sharpen or reshape strategies for reaching people in this new day. The Multiply Louisiana Cohort is a 10-month church multiplication and revitalization initiative for pastors and replant leaders. By joining the Multiply Louisiana Cohort you’ll be in on a monthly meeting with like-minded pastors led by seasoned practitioners, you’ll get six books and a notebook filled with ideas to grow your leadership and your church, a detailed demographic profile of your community, a 30-year profile of your church, and more.

Together we learn:

  • How to Lead Through Change
  • How to Manage Conflict
  • How to Empower Lay Leaders and Volunteers
  • How to Develop a Strategic Plan
  • How to Staff for Growth
  • How to Apply Research Data to Your Community (MissionInsite Demographic Profile provided for each participating church), and more.

Cohorts are kicking off in January of 2021. Get more info by connecting with one of these five informational meetings:

Or view a listing of all events here.