Is My Church Multiplication Ready?

The Louisiana Baptists Missions and Ministry Team is making our final push toward the goal of planting 300 new churches 2020. Since 2010, our convention has worked together to plant 235 new churches! The result has been over 13,000 new commitments to Christ! and many new fronts opened up for meeting spiritual and physical needs across our state. While every Southern Baptist church is invested in church planting through giving to the Cooperative Program and our State, National, and International Missions Offerings, only around 280 churches in Louisiana (out of 1,624) have taken the next step and gotten involved in direct MULTIPLICATION through sending people, direct financial sponsorship, or starting a new campus or location.

As we make this final push to 300 new churches, we want to invite you to explore your church’s multiplication readiness. We will have a series of luncheons across the state this year that will help you see the possibilities of and opportunities for multiplication for your church. Every church CAN get involved in Church Planting Multiplication!

Why Should Multiplication Readiness Concern Me and My Church? Three Reasons:

  1. Readiness to Multiply is a Mark of Health and Maturity. Healthy churches generally are multiplying churches. Healthy churches multiply new disciples, new leaders, new groups, new ministries, etc.,etc. As the multiplication train gets rolling, it is often the case that God moves His people to look to a neighboring community or people group in need to multiply the gospel to. Is it time for your church to consider a multiplication project? Or is it time to explore why your church is not seeing greater multiplication inside? How do we get started? What resources are available? Join us for one of our Multiplication Ready luncheons to explore these questions.
  2. Healthy Church Multiplication requires Healthy Sending or Sponsor or Parent Churches. As Bob Roberts says in his great book The Multiplying Church, “The future of faith in America (and anywhere in the world, for that matter) is not tied to planting more churches, but in raising up of mother congregations of every tribe, tongue, denomination, and network that are reproducing… The hope is in pregnant mother churches.” The healthiest new churches often come from mother churches that are reproducing and multiplying in all aspects, spilling over into new communities and people groups through church planting and evangelism.
  3. Reaching our state and our nation is more than just one church can accomplish. Across Louisiana, church attendance is in decline. In almost every association, less than 10% of the population are in attendance in a Southern Baptist Church on any given weekend. The number of unchurched and dechurched people is climbing. To reach new generations of people, new fronts must be opened against lostness. Church Planting and Multiplication has proven to be a great tool in reaching people in Louisiana and beyond. 13,000 and counting have responded to the gospel through one of our 235 new churches. Imagine the possibilities as we continue to multiply through 2020 and beyond.

Explore the possibilities, available resources, and current opportunities with your Louisiana Baptists Missions and Ministries team this year as we make our final push to 300 new churches by 2020.

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 Louisiana Baptists 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.

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.

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?

Portable Church: Advantages and Objections

A portable church has MANY advantages. I’ve been a part of portable churches for most of my ministry.

Currently about 40% of our church plants in Louisiana are portable. There’s no need to be afraid of going portable in church planting or other ministries. Here’s why:

1. Energy

Energy can be directed outside the walls, because the walls are not ours. In portable situations, the church is usually not responsible for cleaning, managing accounts, and making repairs. We’re able to direct the skills of the people more to the needs of the community.

2. Affordability

The costs of buildings are growing exponentially. In many, not all, communities being portable is better financially for new and transitioning churches. Often the cost of building straps congregations with debt and too small a seating capacity for maximizing growth.

3. Community Engagement

A LifeWay research study called The State of Church Planting showed that new churches that meet in public places experience 42%­49% greater attendance than others. Unchurched people are comfortable attending gatherings in theaters, gyms, banquet rooms, hotels. And the benefit to non­profit locations that churches can gather in is great.

Churches we’ve planted have met in an apartment complex office, a fire station, a YMCA, and a museum. Each greatly benefited from the income of our rent and our church came to see our being there as an investment in the community.

4. Culture

Portable church allows for the ministry to be built on what is most important, especially in critical early years. When you are portable, people attend church due to relationships and mission. The building and space are less likely to become “tails that wag the dog.”

Common Objections:

  • Isn’t that a lot of work? Yes. It takes work to set up every Sunday. But that work involves people rubbing shoulders and elbows together weekly. In my experience setting up church on Sundays brings people together.In my opinion, one of the reasons portable churches meeting in public places have 42%­49% greater attendance is because of the work that requires mobilizing people every weekend.Relationships + Responsibility = a Reason to Return. Churches with few mobilization opportunities limit their capacity for growth. Portable church set up expands mobilization potential.
  • Doesn’t a building signify that you’re a real church? Maybe so. But do you really want a building to define your church. Church should be defined by its disciples, their love for one another, and the church’s ministry in the community. Studies and my own experience show that a portable church can enhance these things.
  • Won’t people get burned out? People tend to get burned out in any situation. The work of the leader is to provide good systems, regular encouragement, and changes of pace to allow people to manage seasons of their lives.Portable churches can setup with great creativity and simplicity – limiting the workload, but still involving greater numbers of people in the ministry of the church.Now, churches do reach a critical mass in attendance and finances where ownership and construction may make better sense. And God often provides building at the right time for the growth of His church.

HOWEVER, there’s no need to be afraid of a portable church.

If you’re thinking about starting a church that may need to be portable or you’re thinking of staying portable, use these questions as a guide:

  • Can I find an affordable, portable space that will help me direct energy outside the walls?
  • Can I find an affordable, portable space that will help me with engaging community leaders & spheres of influence?
  • Will portable church help establish the culture & vision of this new church for this community?
  • Am I ready to establish teams & mobilize people?

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.

All The Faces of Louisiana Baptists

We all know that Jesus came to all people, but what are we doing about it?

Here is a simple, attractive, and challenging way to communicate the need for new church plants to reach new people all around Louisiana.

Feel free to reproduce this and use it in your church ministry as we seek to fulfill the Great Commission.