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.

Simple Holiday Outreach Ideas for Churches

Here’s a few simple holiday outreach projects that any church, small group, family, or individual can afford. I can testify that these make a big impact with a small investment of time and money.

1. Gift cards for ICU waiting rooms. At any given time in your community there are people reeling from traumatic events or devastating illness. Their families can be found in waiting rooms at your local hospital.

Pick up a handful of gift cards to the closest restaurants and coffee shops, drop by and give them out with a “praying for you” card from your church. Offer to pray for anyone you get to talk with.

This simple act of kindness can breathe life into someone that is overwhelmed with bad news. If no one is there, give them to the nurses desk and they’ll pass them out for you. These nurses could also use prayer and encouragement.

Call ahead and find out when visiting times are so that you know when people are in the waiting rooms.

Cost: $100 for 5-10 gift cards.

 

2. Care packages for the homeless. If you live in a metro area or near the interstate, you probably get an invitation to serve the homeless every day at area red lights. “Should I give them money?” is a constant question.

Few of us carry cash anymore but doing nothing is not desirous for most believers. How about making up some simple care packages with some goodies that that can be passed out the window of a car? Keep 3-5 in your car at all times.

Cost: $10 per bag.

 

3. Christmas decor for nursing home residents. Go to your local nursing home and ask for a list of residents with no local family. The reality for these residents is often few visits if any, few seasonal decorations for their walls, few convenient items like warm socks or lotion.

Offer to pray for them. Find out what they want or need and plan a return visit. Spend some time listening to their story.

Cost: $25 for a few Christmas decorations and simple cards colored by kids.

 

4. Fruit baskets for elderly shut-ins. Local shut-ins are lonely. They often feel trapped. They often have simple to-do’s around their home that can be taken care of in less than an hour.

Making up fruit baskets to deliver to them gives you a reason to encourage them with a visit and find out other needs that your faith community can take care of on their behalf.

Cost:$25 for a bowl or basket & fruit & other goodies to go in them.

 

5. Weatherization for local widows. In every community there are widows and widowers who can no longer take care of simple things like wrapping their pipes or preparing their home for winter.

A great project for the men’s group could be spending one Saturday per year wrapping pipes.

Cost:$100 worth of weatherization supplies.

 

6. Holiday treats for local teachers lounges. We often hear laments about churches not being able to “get into the schools.” Most of the time, we’re trying to get in on our terms instead of thinking of ways to be a blessing.

One way that is enthusiastically accepted 100% of the time at our local schools is stuffing snack baskets full of goodies for teacher’s lounges at the beginning of the school year, holidays, and end of school.

Christmas is a great time for this. Shoot for the week that school is getting out. There’s probably a party going on!

Cost: $50 per Teacher’s lounge.

 

What other similar outreach ideas have you or your church done at Christmas?

What if…

  • Every ICU Patient family got a gift card and a prayer?
  • Every homeless person got a care packet?
  • Every Nursing Home resident had Christmas decorations?
  • Every shut-in got a fruit basket?
  • Every widow had her pipes wrapped for winter?
  • Every teacher’s lounge had holiday treats and a note of encouragement from your church?

Operation Homecoming

Imagine shepherds living out in the fields. It’s not just a Christmas phrase. We have spiritual shepherds who have struggled through the heartbreaking floods of the past year. About 50 pastors are still displaced. No, they aren’t homeless, but they are trying to return and reset in their own homes. As an association of Louisiana Baptists churches, we believe that this is an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of these committed servants.

This is a call for churches to partner with displaced pastors to help them get back in their homes as soon as possible. We are encouraging interested churches to contact the following for assignments:

 

Operation Homecoming will be promoted at LBC Annual Meeting, November 14-15 and also on Monday afternoon, November 14 at the Pastor’s Conference.

150 New Churches

Today we celebrate a significant milestone for Louisiana Baptists: 150 churches planted since 2010! Our goal is 300 by 2020, so this puts us at the half way mark. Proud of our planters & their families who have risked much for the Gospel in some hard to reach Louisiana communities. Grateful for sponsor & sending churches that have given of themselves to help new works start. Also grateful for Southern Baptist churches who have given generously to the Cooperative Program & state & national mission offerings to help provide resources & training for these 150 church plants. We look forward with great anticipation to the next 150! Join me in praying today for laborers, partners, & planters for the next 150 new churches & beyond!

Here’s a breakdown of the 150 that shows a bit of the impact of church planting in our state:

  • The 150 churches were planted in 75 Different Louisiana towns or cities,
  • 21 of the 32 Baptist Associations in Louisiana have been involved in church planting since 2010.
  • Church Plants engaged 13 different people groups in Louisiana since 2010.
  • The 150 churches included 31 in North Louisiana (21%) & 119 (79%) in South Louisiana where the majority of population is.
  • The 150 church plants include 58 Anglo (39%), 49 African-American (33%), 25 Hispanic (17%), 8 Asian (5%), 10 Multi-Ethnic by design.
  • 17 of the 150 (11%) churches planted were Multi-Site Campus Multiplication of other healthy congregations.
  • 20 of the 150 (13%) churches planted were RePlants located on Baptist properties that had been or were very near closure.
  • 12 of the 150 (8%) closed after 1 year.
  • 129 of the 150 (86%) received cooperative funding through the Louisiana Baptist Convention.
  • The 150 church plants have baptized at least 2,535 new believers. That’s 37 baptisms per month since 2010!

Praise God for the work He is doing through our church plants & our together giving through Cooperative Program & State & National Missions Offerings.

Too Many Churches?

Every now & then, someone comments to me that we are planting too many churches in Louisiana. My answer:

  • Church to Population Ratio. South Louisiana is well above national levels of church to population ratio with some communities, like the Lafayette area, near 1 church to every 10,000 residents. Our state goal is to get every association to our state average of 1 church to every 2,850 residents. Many north Louisiana communities are well below that. Church planting helps us close this gap.
  • Percentage of the population actually attending churches are sinking across our state. This reflects the fact that many churches are in decline &/or churches are not growing as fast as their populations. Church Planting is needed to help close this gap, create more capacity for evangelism, & reach every people group & population segment in our community.
  • 3%. Bill Easum has said that denominations & networks must plant 3% of their total population annually just to keep from being in decline. For us as Louisiana Baptists, with 1,600 churches, that would mean having a goal of 48 new churches each year. At that point our goal of 30 is quite conservative & reflects a priority to reach other areas of our nation with much lower levels of evangelical population.
  • Saturating Our Communities with the Gospel. Our Southern Baptist strategy & that of other Evangelical partners, has always been a SATURATION strategy. We’re committed to doing ALL we can to get the gospel to EVERY person in our communities. Church plants are evangelistic by nature & by necessity. Existing churches tend to grow less evangelistic over time. We need church plants in every community to stay on the evangelistic edge & saturate every corner of our state with the Gospel.

Check out these resources to help you get started on your church planting journey: