A Viral Outbreak from Asia

Book Overview: Ying and Grace Kai’s Training for Trainers: The Movement that Changed the World 
Wigtake Resources – February 23, 2018 – 199 pages 

If you are looking for inspiration and simple ideas to get your life and congregation more focused on evangelism, you should read Ying and Grace Kai’s Training for Trainers: The Movement that Changed the World. The book tells the story of a viral outbreak of the gospel that started with a Southern Baptist Missionary looking for a way to reach millions, instead of dozens for Christ among the many unreached people groups in Asia. He started with 30 rural farmers in a remote village and ten years later, 1.7 million people had been baptized and the movement began to cross continents using simple evangelistic practices. Today we know this movement and training as T4T or Training for Trainers.

The beauty and the secret of T4T is simplicity. Simplicity leads to reproducibility. Simplicity and reproducibility are key ingredients in viral movements. The simple step-by-step process of T4T is summarized as:

  1. Develop a list of unsaved people in your network of relationships and pray for them everyday.
  2. Teach your group how to tell their story, repeatedly practicing to become fluent in sharing their story.
  3. Teach the story of Jesus, repeatedly practicing to become fluent in teaching the story of Jesus.
  4. Have them commit to share their story and the story of Jesus with five people each week.
  5. Don’t encourage the growth of one small group, but train everyone to become trainers of their own small group.
  6. Never give up on anyone.

Here are just a few of the quotes that jumped out at me:

  • It is not until one can train others that they can grow into a true disciple.
  • Share the gospel with at least five people each week.
  • Keep things simple so that anyone is able to do it and everyone is willing to do it. Once things begin to get complicated, people start to put it off and not do it.
  • We should not encourage them to bring others into our small group. We are training them to become a trainer. They must start and train their own small groups.
  • Whatever is taught, it should not be a knowledge dump, but training simple enough so that the new believer can grasp and replicate what has been taught.
  • The real test of success is the trainee taking what he has learned, and training a fellow believer…

If you are considering a reset in your ministry or a new vision for personal and corporate evangelism. These simple practices born among unreached people groups may be just the thing to spark an evangelistic movement among the lost in your community.

Application:

  • Read it to get a vision for simplicity and focus on evangelism for your church.
  • Use the step-by-step principles with a group of leaders in your church to begin a new season of evangelistic action.
  • Share the book and summarize the principles for small group leaders in your church and encourage them to use these simple practices to spark new growth and new units.

Other T4T Resources: 

Five Old Innovations for Our New Day

It’s a new day. New normals will emerge. Our churches are picking up new technologies and new innovations to help us continue to deliver the gospel. In this season of new, of change, of adaptation, there may also be some OLD innovations that we need to circle back to. As we reset our churches over the coming days, consider resetting these five practices and attitudes:

  1. The Prayer Chain – Principle: Mobilize Prayer for the Church and the Lost. 

Growing up Southern Baptist, every church my family was a part of had a prayer chain. The prayer chain was a phone network built to mobilize prayer quickly when need arose in the congregation or community. How can your congregation be more effective at mobilizing prayer for one another, for the lost, for the community? Today, we have technologies available to us that can greatly enhance the impact of prayer mobilization. We all encourage prayer. How can we move from encouraging prayer to mobilizing prayer? What innovative approaches to prayer can we develop in the new normal?

  1. Discipleship Training – Principle: Train the Faithful to Train Others. 

The creativity of churches has grown tremendously over the last 20 years. Graphic design, stage design, sermon series design. We have to ask the question: Are these innovations actually helping us make disciples and train the faithful to disciple others. Discipleship Training, or Training Union, was designed to deliver the core truths of Christianity to the faithful. Now is a great time to assess our churches effectiveness at training disciples. A disciple is trained when they can train others. How did that go while the church was scattered? How many of your members were able to train their families, neighbors, small groups while the church was closed? How can your church be more effective at disciple making and training?

  1. The Prospect File – Principle: Help People Identify the Lost Around Them.  

We often bemoan the fact that people in yester-years were more apt to attend church than they are today. However, we could also argue that churches of the past were more aggressive at pursuing their lost friends, family and neighbors than we are today. Visitation night was common for churches in past decades. Visitation night was driven by the Prospect File compiled by people in Sunday School classes in the church. Prospect lists were a way for churches to identify lost people in their church field and in the lives of the congregation. Today, the Who’s Your One? Campaign has been a new innovation in this regard. How can your church be more effective at helping people identify the lost around them? As we’ve grown more inward, focusing programs on the already saved, the lost have become more distant from our churches, but also from our minds. It’s time to revive the Prospect File.

  1. Soul-Winning and Personal Evangelism – Principle: Every believer is an evangelist.

Remember the soul-winning rally? I attended several of these as a young person in a Southern Baptist Church. This emphasis helped rally people to the cause of leading others to Christ. There were concerted efforts to help people know how to share their faith and understand the urgency of sharing their faith. Over the years, innovations like Evangelism Explosion, Share Jesus Without Fear, FAITH Evangelism Training, and our own One to One Evangelism, have helped believers in this regard. With less than 10% of believers testifying that they share their faith regularly, and baptisms down another 20% in 2019 across Louisiana, it’s time for every church to train and emphasize personal evangelism for a new era. How can your church reset the idea and the effort to make every believer an evangelist? More than inviting people to church, we need a revival of inviting people to Jesus through personal evangelism.

  1. Start New Units – Principle: The Kingdom Expands through the Multiplication of New Groups and Churches.       

For Southern Baptist in the highest growth days of our Convention, a new unit was a new class or congregation birthed through and for evangelism and disciple making. New groups and new churches lead to new people and different types of people being reached. This needs to be a mindset and a practice. The opposite mindset is institutional thinking. This mindset makes us more concerned about available space, protecting inside opinions, and self-preservation. Multiplication and new unit thinking puts reaching the lost through any means necessary and the growth of the kingdom above all else. We have over 2.5 million lost in Louisiana. Their eternity is in the balance. Consider the possibilities for reaching them in your community. How many new groups are possible in your current space? How can you create more space for new groups? Are there areas, people groups, population segments in your community that needs a new church that can communicate the gospel to them?

Mobilizing Prayer, Training Disciples, Identifying the Lost, Winning Souls, Starting New Units. Old Innovations that are desperately needed for this new day. May they be part of our new normal.

WAS My Church Multiplication Ready? Covid-19 WAS THE TEST!

Multiplication Readiness is a great mark of maturity for any church (see my post Is My Church Multiplication Ready). The Covid-19 crisis WAS THE TEST! How did your church do? We now have some new gauges for multiplication readiness, along with some that have been talked about for years.

  1. Were you ready for Online Engagements? My church had made the jump to online giving years ago, but our web and video presence was and is lacking. Were you able to continue disciple making, pastoral care, delivering the gospel via technology? What do you need to acquire or get educated on going forward? How can you prepare to continue to make connections with your church and community no matter what happens?
  2. Were your disciples ready to make disciples? North American churches with our emphasis on church branding, seem at times to be focused on keeping people dependent upon us and coming back for more church, instead of training and releasing disciples who make disciples. Scattered by the current crisis, how did your disciples do? Were they equipped to share the gospel? To lead their family in devotions? To feed themselves spiritually?
  3. Were you ready to meet the needs of silos of leadership and population segments in your city? Do the local government leaders, apartment complex managers, school officials, neighborhood spokespeople have your number and know of your willingness to serve? Churches able to meet needs in the early days of a crisis will be the ones that have established relationships BEFORE the crisis.

If this test has been difficult for you and your church (and it was for most), you can begin preparing now for the next test and for the new world we’ll live in after this crisis subsides.

Checklist:

  • Develop new and technological ways to communicate.
  • Develop equipping and training that prepares disciples to make disciples of everyone, everywhere.
  • Build relational tracks in your city that the Gospel can run on no matter what.

Let us know how our team can help.

Camp or No Camp – That is the Question!

The current situation with the COVID-19 means life at camp looks different right now. At this point we are looking forward to summer with the hope that we will still be able to host all of our camps and we are currently accepting registrations.

The situation with coronavirus is ever-evolving, and we don’t know what it will look like in a few weeks or a few months. Sadly, we’ve had to cancel many spring events, but we are prayerful and hopeful as we continue to prepare for camps to happen as scheduled. Please join us in this prayer!

We are still accepting summer camp registrations and understand that you have questions, so check out the FAQs below!

Will summer camp happen this year?

We are praying and preparing for camps and accepting registrations as if they will take place.

What if I register for camp and pay the deposit and then camp gets cancelled because of the virus?

If we have to cancel any camps due to coronavirus, we will refund all deposits for those camps. You will not lose your money if we cannot provide the camp.

How will the decisions about summer camps be made?

It is our goal to provide a definitive decision on your camp no later than three (3) weeks prior to the date your camp is scheduled to begin. All decisions will be based on current recommendations from the CDC and state and local officials. We will notify you of these decisions through email and Facebook, and promptly return any deposits paid.

When should I register?

Because deposits for any cancelled camps will be refunded, there’s no reason to wait!

18 Proven Ways to Scatter Seeds and Engage Your Community

When wanting to impact a community for Christ through evangelism, scattering seeds should be one of your primary missions. On Church Planter reports we ask for the # of contacts made each month. No coincidence that often the church plant with the most salvations and baptisms is also the one with the most contacts made in the community over the course of a year. That’s not always the case at first, because some communities will take more of the spiritual work of cultivating the ground through prayer and serving before seeds can be planted and harvest gathered. But if a church planter aggressively devises a strategy of seed scattering and planting, eventually a harvest can be expected (Psalm 126:6).

What is scattering seed? Seed scattering is any activity that intersects believers and or the gospel with the lives of people in the community. The more directly evangelistic the better. But considering that according to Billy Graham it probably takes 20 conversations for someone to become a Christian, plan for aggressive seed sowing and evangelistic activity.

Here’s 18 Proven ideas for engaging the community and increasing your contacts and seeds planted through your church:

  1. Invite Cards. Always have something to invite people to and a card with the time and place with you. Print hundreds at a time and make sure your core team and congregation takes a stack with them to give out or place on community bulletin boards as they go each week.
  2. Direct Mail. Direct mail can be done on a small, affordable scale. You’ll need a Bulk Mail permit and someone who can do at least basic graphic design. Keep it simple. It’s the two color postcards that stick out in today’s mail boxes. Get to know Vista Print and Outreach.com for affordable starting points. Even better, get to know a local printer and include seed scattering to building relationships in the community. Also, check out the Mapping Center for Evangelism to get your communities addresses plus much more.
  3. Facebook Page – likes and shares. Facebook is a great tool for spreading seeds about the gospel and your church. Start a Page, post regularly, and encourage your core team to like and share, which spreads the message to their network. Love what the Church at Addis did with Facebook. They found out one of the biggest needs in their community was help with blended families and they started a Facebook Page called Blended Family Help to connect Gospel resources with the need in people’s lives.
  4. Facebook Ads. For $25 you can get your message to 1,000’s of people in a small town or neighborhood. Facebook Ads are easy to use, simple as posting about an event, then hitting a button to “boost” it and make sure it gets out there with a little bit of cash.
  5. School Newsletters. Few people subscribe to newspapers anymore, everybody hates spammy email advertising, direct mail is a low % read for most. How can I get into the home of almost every young family in my community? Consider an ad in the local elementary and Jr. High newsletter. Goes home with every student. Even if it reaches no one, you’ve  done something that  supports the local school & administrators won’t forget you for that. Our local schools allow a business card size ad for about $25 per issue.
  6. Radio Spots. Average commute times in Louisiana are from 15 to 40 minutes. For most of those, the radio will be on for at least some of that time. Many radio stations offer some type of free bulletin board for community events, so if you doing something worth inviting the community to, give them a call. And radio ads can be surprisingly affordable with local stations. It’s a great way to support the local Christian radio station, but don’t just do Christian radio. On second thought, send a check to Christian radio and run your ads on the local secular stations.
  7. Door Hangers. Door to door is still a great way to spread info and plant seeds. And studies in Louisiana have shown that a majority of people are open to door to door visits from churches. We’ve found a printer in our area that will print ready to hang door hangers for us. We’ve also ordered clear bags to put info in for hanging on doors, which makes them a little more weather proof. Works best for the time commitment in densely populated areas. Rules of thumb: Beware of dogs. Don’t be a jerk and ignore posted subdivision loitering rules. Expect at least one call from somebody that says, “HEY, DON’T EVER COME ON MY PROPERTY AGAIN OR I’LL @&%$#?…” Shake your head and move on. There’s always one.
  8. T-shirts. Well-designed, eye-catching T-shirts can create more conversation than most other forms of advertising. Nothing else I can do in outreach gets more people to come up to me and say “Do you go to that church?” – “Is that church around here?” – “That looks like an interesting church” – “Where is your church?” Make T-shirts that people will want to wear and give them away if you can. And don’t forget to train people on what to say WHEN, not if, they are ask about your church when wearing a T-shirt.
  9. Service Projects. Finding a need and meeting it has ripple effect potential for your ministry. You find someone that needs help & serve them, that’s a great kingdom contact in and of itself. And a kingdom win, is a win period. You also have to get others involved in using their gifts and abilities for ministry which helps them grow their kingdom eyes. Our church has used Wheelchair ramp building in this way. When you get a good service project you can also increase the ripple by inviting the community to join in. We’ve even ran radio spots (see above) about upcoming projects inviting others to contribute and participate. Continue the ripple by posting pics on Facebook, sharing the story with a follow-up video, etc. Contact the Missions and Ministry Office about hosting your own Here For You Day in your community.
  10. Block Parties. A great way to gather people, cultivate relationships, plant seeds, and share the gospel is to throw a party. Mix free food, loud music, and an inflatable or two & you can be about meeting new people in almost any neighborhood in Louisiana. Another popular variation of an outreach friendly Block Party would be an Outdoor Movie Night in a city park, subdivision common space, or backyard. Also, you can use holiday’s, big national sporting events, and birthday parties to throw a party, invite everyone you know, and find ways to cultivate relationships & move them closer to experiencing the gospel of Jesus Christ. Check out this post on Why Block Parties and the How to Manual for Block Parties that our church put together.
  11. Multi-Housing Communities. Multi-Housing Complexes offer many potential points of contacts with all different kinds of people. One easy, low cost, highly relational way to make some people smile and start a conversation is to pick up some boxes of snacks and juice boxes and setup at a common bus stop at an apartment complex or trailer park after school. Our church does this the week before kid friendly events that we’d like to promote. Stillwater Church in Hammond has seen a new church birth, utilizing the after school bus stop as a primary way to make connections in two large mobile home parks in their area.
  12. Community Agencies. Council on Aging, Volunteers of America, Boys and Girls Club, Local Fire Dept., Local Police Dept., Town Council, local Crisis Pregnancy Center, Mayor’s offices, local utility companies, Easter Seals, Special Olympics, Habitat for Humanity, Neighborhood Revitalization committees, local Work Release Program. These are a handful of the community agencies that our church plants have worked with that exist in almost every community in North America. Great partners, often looking for volunteers, and often wondering why churches don’t offer to help. And believe it or not, we’ve found no problems from most community agencies with the expectation that we as a church would also be sharing the gospel with people we serve. Projects, partners, points of contact with the community is a phone call away.
  13. Area Daycares. Private daycares are often open to allowing churches to make contact with families they serve. We have built relationships with daycares in our area that have allowed us to come in and do Gospel centered activities with kids. We also send posters and invites to any kid friendly special event (Easter Egg Hunt, Trunk or Treat, etc.) to local daycares and have found that many of them will post them on a bulletin board & some will pass them out to parents picking up their kids. Start by making a list of area daycares & consider including them in service opportunities and invites to special events.
  14. Rec Fields. Another great way to both invest in the community and get some name recognition is to get a sign on the fences of local recreation fields. $200-500 can get your logo, name, website in front of a large % of unchurched people in your community. And the interaction with key leaders in the recreation programs can be a great thing for your personal network as a church planter as well. I’ve also seen churches serve rec fields in other ways: Inflatables and face painting on opening day, free snow cones, free souvenir pictures. I’ve also thought about the possibility of offering a Sunday morning worship time at our local ball field with 100’s pouring in every weekend for travel ball leagues.
  15. Community Festivals. In Louisiana, there is some kind of festival going almost every weekend. Festivals offer a variety of opportunities for churches to engage the people of the community. First and maybe most importantly, the impact of getting to know leaders of festivals on most occasions also means getting to know key leaders in the city or town. Getting involved lets them know that you’re on their side & want to see the community succeed. A few ways that I’ve seen churches reach out to festivals: Serve by picking up trash all day, Face Painting, Kids Games, sponsor entertainment, Free Souvenir pictures, Festival volunteers, Setup and tear down. Many other ways to engage people. Remember your Invite Cards (see part 1), go unselfishly to serve the community, and have fun! Louisiana Festivals are the best!
  16. Funeral Homes. Outreach to funeral homes? As a brand new church planter in the community, as I was networking, I stopped by several area funeral homes with a card and an offer to preach the funeral for anyone that didn’t have a pastor already. To my surprise, I soon found myself doing 4-5 funerals every week. Which proved to be emotionally exhausting, but served as a great way to connect with families at a time they needed the Gospel and relationships built around faith more than ever. People will NEVER forget you, when you’re able to be there with them in the valley of the shadow of death.
  17. Community Networks. A network is a group or system of interconnected people. They are everywhere in your community and most are ready and willing to connect new people to the group. Get your church plant involved in the local Chamber of Commerce. Most have a Non-Profit membership stream and I’ve found that they love having churches involved. Early on in the life of one of our church plants, I joined what was called a BNI, or Business Network International. People paid to join a group that commits to help each other promote their respective businesses. They loved having a church in the group. Made all kinds of connections in that network. Church planting is about networking and you don’t have to recreate the wheel at the outset. Join the community networks and relationships will lead to seeds planted & opportunities to share the Gospel.
  18. Local Hospitals. In the New Testament, we see Jesus often ministering to people at the point of illness, disease, and grief. There are several ways that a church plant can engage people at this point of need. Find out if the hospital has a volunteer chaplain program. In my community, our local baptist association has built this bridge to several local hospitals and pastors and lay people are trained and empowered to meet needs through chaplaincy work. Stock the Waiting rooms. Waiting rooms can be lonely, cold places. Get permission to put fruit baskets, magazines, fresh donuts, Bibles, or whatever you can in the waiting rooms. And don’t forget the gift of presence. Drop by and give the gift of a listening ear and encouraging words. One of my favorite servant evangelism projects is pick up a handful of gift cards to the nearest restaurants and drop by the ICU waiting room & give them away. Remember, this ministry is not about you! Only go if you can realistically put the needs of others first. This can be a great ministry for those with the gifts of mercy in your church plant.

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.” Great reminder for the church planter or pastor who is trying to get momentum behind the effort to reach their community for Christ. Our failure is often a failure of ideas and imagination when it comes to outreach, so I’m sharing some practical ways that I’ve seen work in Louisiana in hopes that your church will increase the number of seeds that it scatters across your community.

On Mission to Tiger Island

Here is a little Louisiana Trivia for you:

  • What Louisiana city was first named Tiger Island?
  • What Louisiana Parish is home to an ancient people group that still resides on its aboriginal lands?
  • What Bayou was formed by a 10 mile long snake?

If you know the answers to these questions, you might be from St. Mary Parish. St. Mary Parish includes the cities of Morgan City (formerly known as Tiger Island because of rare cats spotted there by the first surveyors in the late 1700’s), Franklin (the Parish Seat), Patterson, Berwick, and the Chitimacha Indian Reservation (home of the Chitimacha Indians, who were once one of the strongest tribes in North America). Chitimacha legend has it that the ancient tribe fought a war with a 10-mile long snake and on its defeat it squirmed to its death and its remains formed Bayou Teche. Today Bayou Teche is 125 miles long and includes the beautiful Bayou Teche National Wildlife Refuge in St. Mary Parish.

St. Mary Parish is also home to the Gulf-Coast Baptist Association. A group of 15 southern baptist churches that partner together for the gospel in this coastal Louisiana community. Today, they are in need of our partnership and prayers as economic downturn and declining church attendance has greatly impacted this association. Here are some fast facts about this area:

12 Quick Facts about St. Mary Parish:

  1. It is located “right in the middle of everywhere” – about 50 miles from New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Lafayette.
  2. It is part of the Gulf Coast Baptist Associaton. Associational Missions Strategist is Steven Kelly. He is also the Pastor of Bayou Vista Baptist Church near Morgan City.
  3. 54,650 residents. 59% White, 33% Black, 5% Hispanic, 3% other.
  4. 14 Southern Baptist Churches. 1 church for every 3,904 residents. (Our state ratio and goal for each association is 1 church for every 2,850. Gulf Coast Association needs 5 more churches to get to that ratio).
  5. Only 1 African-American church and only 1 Hispanic church.
  6. Gulf Coast churches have averaged between 900 and 1100 in total worship attendance for the last 10 years, with a total of 1,019 in 2018. That’s only 1.9% of the total population.
  7. Bible Study or Sunday School attendance was at less than 1% in 2018 with 506 attendees.
  8. “Well, most people are Catholic in South Louisiana.” Not so fast. The ARDA reports that there are 24,662 nones in the parish, or religiously unaffiliated. That’s 45% of the population. 17,834 are Roman Catholic, or 33%. 9,885 evangelicals, or 18%.
  9. Crime is 26% higher that the state average and 48% higher than the U.S. average.
  10. Poverty is at 21%, which is 1% higher than the state and 6% higher than the U.S.
  11. Greatest needs according to Associational Missions Strategist Steven Kelly, are for an African-American congregation in Morgan City. A new Hispanic congregation may be needed. RePlanting and Revitalization partnerships are needed across the Gulf Coast.
  12. Also needed are Bivocational or Covocational Pastors and Planters who will plant their lives in these communities and see them reached for the gospel.

Pray for Tiger Island and the surrounding communities of St. Mary Parish.

You can see and hear the needs and opportunities yourself on April 3rd-4th, during our Gulf Coast Vision Tour. Connect with mission projects and partnership opportunities in this tough to reach Louisiana Association.

Register for the Vision Tour now!

Why Plant More Churches?

Recent Question from an honest member of a local church. “What’s the thinking behind the Louisiana Baptist Convention planting all these new churches? Why not just send more people to great churches like mine?” 

Answer: There are Three Major Problems with this kind of thinking as I see it.

  1. The problem of the numbers. How many does your church seat? “1,200”. Let’s say your church fills its building 4 times each week. That’ll be 4,800 people attending church. Praise God! I’ve studied your community, and there are actually 125,000 people that live there, and after much research, liberal estimates show that only 10% of them attend an evangelical church. Another 10% attend Roman Catholic churches based on research and liberal estimates. That still leaves 100,000 people that are not going to church anywhere. Where are we going to put that many people? If all the current evangelical churches in the community filled their facilities twice each Sunday, there would still be no room for the majority of these people.
  1. The problem of the people. I’ve been to your church and I like it. Most of the people look a lot like me and dress like me and the music fits what I like to listen to. I feel very comfortable there. The preaching speaks to me, because I’ve been in church all my life and I like good Bible preaching. However, did you know that there are a lot of those 100,000 people who have never been to church. They don’t know who Noah or Abraham or Moses are, and they would be a little lost just opening a Bible for the first time. They also listen to different kind of music, their lives look a lot different than mine and yours because of race, upbringing, past mistakes, etc. So, we need to start ALL DIFFERENT KINDS OF CHURCHES, FOR ALL DIFFERENT KINDS OF PEOPLE along with making our churches more comfortable for everyone.
  1. Saturation vs. Parish Strategy. Louisiana Baptists and most evangelicals have a saturation strategy of evangelism and church planting. Until EVERY PERSON has had the opportunity to hear and respond to the gospel, we keep doing EVERYTHING we can to deliver the gospel and disciple them. And the Evangelical community has found that church planting is one of the most effective means of doing that. Roman Catholics and other liturgical churches have a Parish Strategy, meaning, we’re going to plan to have one church for an area or part of town, and assume that everybody that needs the gospel will respond at or through that church. It doesn’t consider the number of people, or types of people in the strategy, limiting the number of people that can be reached through the church.

Does that make sense?

Response: “YES! I understand!”

  1. I was actually thinking about how many people in my neighborhood don’t go to church. Out of 70+ homes there is only 2 or 3 of us that go to church on Sunday.
  2. And you know, you’re right, I wish they would, but they probably would not all feel comfortable in a church like mine.
  3. And yes, we believe we should do everything we can to share the gospel with our community.

What are some ways that my church could help??!!

Yes, There are Towns in Louisiana Without a Southern Baptist Church!

Louisiana has 304 Census Designated Areas, noted as cities, towns, and villages by the Census Bureau. A few years ago, out of curiosity, I did a little digging into how many of these might not have a Southern Baptist Church. I knew of a few, but didn’t expect that number to total almost 100! Now, if you’ve ever looked at this list, you won’t recognize many of these places unless you are from there. A few even have a population of less than 10! The Missions and Ministry Team has sought to keep this list updated and add it to the numerous things that play into good church planting strategy and missiology for Louisiana.

Not all of these places necessarily need a new church. Some of these towns have active churches near them. It’s not the objective of the Louisiana Baptist Mission and Ministry Team to start churches, just to say we did. If it’s a strategic need and if God calls His people to answer that need; we will assist in starting a church in these geographic locations.

Not all of these places are without evangelical witnesses. We are not saying that all of these places are without the witness of an evangelical congregation. We celebrate the work of faithful evangelical partners who are seeking to reach our state and we’re happy when we find that a community has an active witness of the Gospel in its midst. When we find that little to no active gospel witness is present, the priority rises.

Not all the places in Louisiana that have a church are saturated with the Gospel. A more shocking statistic than the number of communities without a Southern Baptist Church is the low percentage of people that actually attend the Southern Baptist and evangelical churches that are already in existence. Most parishes across Louisiana, have less than 10% of the population attending SBC churches on any given weekend. Many areas, even across the south, have too few churches to reach even 30% of its population with the gospel.

Louisiana’s need for new churches in no way compares with the need in other parts of North America. The fact that Louisiana has towns with no SBC churches has challenged me to remember pioneer areas across North America and the world with zero access to a gospel advancing community of believers. As a missionary friend says, “As you go to the church of your choice this weekend, remember those with no church to choose.” Let the reality of Louisiana’s need, remind us of the unfinished task before us in carrying out Christ’s Great Commission.

How can we respond to places with no church?

  1. Pray! Pray for laborers (Luke 10:2). Pray for open doors (1 Corinthians 16:9).
  2. Take a vision tour. In 2020, our team will be conducting one day Vision Tours and Windshield Surveys in many of these towns with no SBC Church. Email me at lane.corley@louisianabaptists.org and let me know if you’d like to help with and be a part of these tours.
  3. Adopt a town to pray for and plan to reach out through a day of prayer walking or other outreach event. Let us know if you’d be interested in reaching out in a city or town without a church.

Where are these towns? Here’s a list of the top 50, listed by CDA / Town / City or Village, Parish, Association, and Population. Email me at lane.corley@louisianabaptists.org if you’d like the entire list, or if you know of other places in Louisiana that don’t have an SBC church presence.

Town/CityParishAssociationPopulation
1. TerrytownJeffersonNOBA24,216
2. Bayou CaneTerrebonneBayou21,173
3. EstelleJeffersonNOBA16,791
4. GardereEast Baton RougeBAGBR11,229
5. WoodmereJeffersonNOBA11,114
6. TimberlaneJeffersonNOBA10,655
7. South Fort PolkVernonVernon9,293
8. Oak HillsEast Baton RougeBAGBR8,980
9. Old JeffersonEast Baton RougeBAGBR8,283
10. GallianoLafourcheBayou7,650
11. Eden IsleSt. TammanyNSBA7,631
12. St. GabrielIbervilleBAGBR7,094
13. MerauxSt. BernardNOBA7,073
14. Village St. GeorgeEast Baton RougeBAGBR6,802
15. InniswoldEast Baton RougeBAGBR6,772
16. VacherieSt. JamesBAGBR5,689
17. ChackbayLafourcheBayou5,647
18. GramblingLincolnConcord Union5,184
19. ElmwoodJeffersonNOBA5,037
20. EastwoodBossierNWLA4,547
21. RichwoodOauchitaNELA3,378
22. Buras-TriumphPlaqueminesNOBA3,358
23. LutcherSt. JamesBAGBR3,345
24. BruslyWest Baton RougeBAGBR2,721
25. ChauvinTerrebonneBayou2,682
26. Abita SpringsSt. TammanyNorthshore2,584
27. Bayou GaucheSt. CharlesNOBA2,557
28. North Fort PolkVernonVernon2,432
29. EdgardSt. John the BaptistNOBA2,315
30. RosepineVernonVernon2,235
31. GaryvilleSt. John the BaptistNOBA2,225
32. Boothville-VenicePlaqueminesNOBA2,220
33. MontzSt. CharlesNOBA2,140
34. LabadievilleAssumptionBayou2,092
35. HendersonSt. MartinEvangeline1,885
36. Belle RoseAssumptionBayou1,837
37. ParadisSt. CharlesNOBA1,616
38. AmaSt. CharlesNOBA1,361
39. New SarpySt. CharlesNOBA1,203
40. CullenWebsterWebster-Claiborne1,133
41. PaincourtvilleAssumptionBayou1,070
42. EmpirePlaqueminesNOBA1,054
43. LeonvilleSt. LandryAcadia1,042
44. RosedaleIbervilleBAGBR983
45. Grand CoteauSt. LandryAcadia964
46. SupremeAssumptionBayou859
47. ParksSt. MartinEvangeline831
48. MermentauAcadiaAcadia815
49. KillonaSt. CharlesNOBA815
50. ConventSt. JamesBAGBR711

Check out our Engage Map for and interactive look at locations of Louisiana Baptist churches, church plants, and target locations for new churches – https://www.engagemap.org/louisianabaptists/EngageMap.

Start Something!

Recently I was with a group of church leaders and the issue of reaching the lost came up. One of the leaders asserted that it seems the churches are all going after the same people, while the truly lost in our communities have little outreach to them. He’s absolutely right. Many of our standard church outreach activities are white noise to the growing number of NEVER churched in our communities. Maybe its time to Start Something new to reach the lost in your city.

  • When was the last time you assessed your community for the real needs of people?
  • When was the last time you thought about the unchurched in your town and how to bring the gospel to them?
  • When was the last time you asked hard questions about the effectiveness of your churches ministry in making contact with the lost?
  • When was the last time you looked at the demographics around your church?

This years Missions and Ministry Summer Luncheon tour will focus on these questions. We want to learn about your community and highlight some needs that may be great avenues for sharing the gospel. We want to talk about starting some new fights with modern day issues affecting people in our state. Join the Missions and Ministry Team at one of our Summer Luncheons across Louisiana in June and July.

Visit LouisianaBaptists.org/Compassion to find and register for a meal and discussion.

Is My Church RePlant Ready?

RePlanting has become a hot topic for denominations. With 65%-80% of churches in decline and many communities transitioning demographically, new visions and strategies must be developed to reach people with the Gospel and build healthy congregational life. Sometimes, churches can’t go on as they are to accomplish that purpose. RePlanting is a way to redeem the property, organization, and investments of previous generations for the vision of a church to reach a people and a place for Christ. Among Louisiana Baptists the need is great. Surveys of Associations have found that potentially 190 churches will close in the next 3-5 years. That’s more than 10% of our current congregations!

RePlant Ready Churches Needed

The Louisiana Baptists Missions and Ministry Team have partnered with now, 50 RePlants since 2010. Many of them have received funding through the Cooperative Program and Georgia Barnette State Missions Offering for Church Planting and Building Renovation efforts. Our need today is more healthy churches that will say “Yes!” to RePlanting and serve as a sponsor, mentor, or sending church to churches at or near closure.

What does it look like to be a RePlant Ready Church? As we’ve reviewed our current list of RePlant, we find some common denominators among the churches involved. Here are a few:

  1. A Passion for God and the Lost. Healthy church planting and replanting start with a desire to see people saved and obey Jesus’ Great Commission.
  2. Eyes Open to the Needs of the World. Churches that multiply are looking for opportunities to be a blessing and spread the love of Christ. They look at the world through the eyes of Christ, who saw the crowds and had compassion on them (Matthew 9:35).
  3. Growing through Healthy Systems that Produces New Disciples. RePlanting and multiplication is not a strategy to get your church growing. Multiplication is a way for churches that ARE healthy and growing to extend their healthy dna outward for the kingdom. Multiplication will reveal unhealth faster than anything. Get your systems healthy and multiplication will be the result.
  4. Unified through Relationships and Purpose. A recent RePlant that was the result of two congregations merging, testified of 100% unanimous vote by both congregations. This didn’t happen automatically. Great patience and clear communication by the leaders produced unity of relationships and purpose. Dealing with disunity is a must before embarking on a large multiplication effort like RePlanting.
  5. Discovers a Community or Communities in Need. With eyes open, churches that multiply see the needs of a community and in the case of RePlanting, a sister congregation in need, and seeks to respond.
  6. Ready to Send a Team of Leaders and Laborers. Churches that multiply well, prepare to send and give so that God’s kingdom can grow. Strategies and systems are in place to raise up leaders to go.

If your church is RePlant Ready or would like to assess your Readiness, let us know (Click here to fill out a form). We’d love to see your church take this multiplication journey. Contact one of our Church Planting Strategist for more information.

James Jenkins: james.jenkins@louisianabaptists.org
Carlos Schmidt: carlos.schmidt@louisianabaptists.org
Lane Corley: lane.corley@louisianabaptists.org
Lee Green, Multiplication Assistant – lee.green@louisianabaptists.org
Office – 318.448.3402
multiplyLA.com

Check out the resources at LouisianaBaptists.org/RePlantReady for more information and first steps for RePlanting in Louisiana.