Day of Prayer for the Coronavirus

Day of Prayer for the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Global Pandemic
Sunday, March 15, 2020

In light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic, we are asking all Southern Baptists and our 47,500+ churches of the Southern Baptist Convention to commit to a dedicated time of prayer this Sunday, March 15, 2020, to seek the Lord in unity about these matters:

  1. Ask God, in His mercy, to stop this pandemic and save lives — not only in our communities but around the world, particularly in places that are unequipped medically to deal with the virus. (Isaiah 59:1-2)
  2. Pray for President Donald Trump and other government leaders — international, federal, state, and local — to have the wisdom to direct us in the best courses of action for prevention and care. (Romans 13:1–4)
  3. Scripture says: Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts. Pray that the Lord will give us wisdom in this moment of fear as the foundations of what we know are shaken, that others would realize how fragile life is and how real eternity is, and they would see their need to turn to God. (Psalm 90:12)
  4. Ask God to protect our missionaries and their families around the globe, using this global crisis to advance His Good News to the whole world. (Mark 16:15)

 

The Great Commission Council of the Southern Baptist Convention

  • Danny Akin
  • Jason K. Allen
  • Paul Chitwood
  • Jamie K. Dew
  • Kevin Ezell
  • Ronnie W. Floyd
  • J.D. Greear
  • Adam W. Greenway
  • O.S. Hawkins
  • Jeff Iorg
  • Ben Mandrell
  • R. Albert Mohler
  • Russell D. Moore
  • Sandra Wisdom-Martin

Regarding the Coronavirus (03-12-20)

Greetings Louisiana Baptists,

Whether you believe that decisions regarding the Coronavirus, COVID-19, are disproportionate to the real threat or believe that not enough actions are being taken, you have to agree that these are unprecedented times. Whether we see widespread outbreak in Louisiana is yet to be known, but the likelihood we will see effects, both economic and life disruption, are almost certain.

Your state missions staff are monitoring information on a daily and even hourly basis. We have not cancelled any events as of this writing with the exception of BCM events in the New Orleans area. One of our commitments to our churches is to be a resource provider. We want to be available to our churches to provide the best information and best practices as they are released.  

LifeWay has prepared a thorough, helpful, free resource that can assist you and your church to prepare in case the Corona virus spreads across the state: https://ministrygrid.com/coronavirus. You can also visit the government site, www.cdc.gov, for additional information.

Here are some common sense suggestions we’ve pulled together for your consideration:

  • Have plenty of hand sanitizer and wipes available for your people.
  • Consider sanitizing your preschool and children’s spaces, the sanctuary and all doors/bathrooms after every service.
  • Avoid your typical greeting (i.e. shaking hands).
  • Instead of passing the offering plates, have ushers stationed as people exit to collect their offerings. Encourage online giving if available. If you don’t offer online giving, here a free service to get you started. NOTE, even though the service is free, there is a 2.9% swipe charge + $ .30 fee for each transaction. This is taken from the donation. Learn more at get.tithe.ly
  • Leave stacks of bulletins/worship guides for people to pick up as they desire instead of someone distributing them.
  • Encourage those not feeling well and the elderly to stay home.
  • Facebook live is an option to stream your service/message if you feel this is best for your situation. This article on live streaming may be helpful.
  • Communicate regularly with your leadership and congregation.

In addition, let us share our most pressing prayer concerns with you: 

  • Pray for those with the virus.
  • Pray for our BCMs. LSU and New Orleans area schools including Tulane, Loyola, UNO, New Orleans Seminary and Leavell College have announced the suspension of on-campus classes in favor of online instruction. Other schools will likely follow. Pray for wisdom as we make decisions to stay connected to these students. Pray for wisdom in making decisions about pending mission trips.
  • Pray for those who are currently out of the country and trying to return home.
  • Pray for our leaders. There is no handbook for making the decisions they are having to make.
  • Pray for our health care providers.
  • Pray for those most vulnerable to virus.

Finally, let me encourage us to be patient with one another. Don’t ridicule someone for a decision you might disagree with. A different decision than you might make does not mean that a person is filled with fear and not trusting God. We are all trying to make the most responsible decisions given our context and facts as we know them. 

We will get to the other side of this crisis. 

But for now, this is a good time to remind myself and you of my favorite Scripture. Revelation 19:6 says, “Hallelujah, the Lord God, Almighty reigns!” 

No matter my circumstances, He reigns! 

Praying for you,
Steve Horn
Executive Director
Louisiana Baptists

Should Your Church Live Stream?

Chances are, your church has either started live streaming recently or has considered it at some point. With equipment improvements, lower entry costs, and availability through the web and social media, live streaming is becoming more common in the church. If you are considering adding a streamed service or posting videos for replay viewing to your ministry, here are a few things to keep in mind.

  • How are we going to do this? There are lots of options when it comes to equipment and hosting. This could look as simple as setting up your smartphone to live stream straight to Facebook, or a full video system, including cameras, switchers, and hosting. Don’t overstretch yourself. Find a setup that works for your team and your budget.
  • Does this have to be live? While it does sound great to say your services are being streamed live, all over Facebook or YouTube, a live stream may not be the best fit for every church or ministry. Consider other options like posting a replay later in the day, or creating a prerecorded version of the sermon, specifically for social media. This may save you money, and depending on your target audience, may connect better than a live stream.
  • Who are we trying to reach? Is this primarily for your church members who cannot attend this week? Are you trying to give guests a peek at what services are like at your church? Maybe you are trying to launch a full digital ministry through a live stream service. Your equipment, hosting, and strategy will differ, depending on your audience.
  • What will we show on our live stream or video replay? You have probably seen churches streaming services on your own Facebook feeds. The primary focus is usually the message (sermon), but many times it will include worship. Typically, people connect well with the sermon and is a great part to include. While including worship does give viewers a chance to see what happens through the whole service, it will often require more to maintain quality and connect with the audience.
  • What about copyright and keeping our stream legal? This is a big one. Please be sure you really look into church streaming copyright licensing and what is allowed and not allowed. Here is a quick break down…
    • Preaching Only – Can be live-streamed and posted for replay without any copyright license needed, as long as the message does not include any copyrighted music or pre-recorded video content.
    • Worship Included on Live Stream – Requires a streaming license for live performance of copyrighted music. No pre-recorded audio allowed (singing to tracks)
    • Worship Included on Replay Video Post – Requires a streaming license to be uploaded to Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, or similar site. No pre-recorded audio allowed (singing to tracks). If the streaming license ever expires, all videos including copyrighted material must be removed immediately.
    • Prerecorded audio is not allowed with any streaming license. Permission must be obtained by contacting the copyright owner directly.

A note about copyright law and streaming licenses. You may still be flagged by Facebook or YouTube for copyrighted material, through their automated process. You can appeal this, siting the proper licenses, but it may take some time to resolve. You may also be required to allow ads to run on content including copyrighted music.

There are two common options for church streaming licenses. Christian Copyright Licensing International (CCLI) and Christian Copyright Solutions (CCS) each have a blanket streaming license. You will not need both of these but would choose one based on your needs. The basic difference between the two is CCLI will cover only your worship services and will require the base CCLI license for lyrics, while CCS will cover other church events outside of your normal worship times, but will not include any licenses for lyric reproduction.

CCLI Website – https://us.ccli.com

CCS Website – https://christiancopyrightsolutions.com

There are lots of other things to consider, and if you are just getting into this, it can be confusing. Don’t let the number of options discourage or intimidate you. There are lots of great resources available online. Here are a few…

Facebook Live
https://www.facebook.com/facebookmedia/solutions/facebook-live

YouTube Live
https://support.google.com/youtube/topic/9257891?gclid=Cj0KCQjwu6fzBRC6ARIsAJUwa2QflCUu88ExT3CHnVY9OT0WmvkqL9aUk-fgxv1ypynoEGJMdWULqeMaAukzEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

Vimeo Video Storage
https://vimeo.com/upgrade

5 Reasons to Live Stream
https://www.boxcast.com/blog/top-5-reasons-your-church-should-be-live-streaming

4 Hurdles to Live Streaming
https://factsandtrends.net/2019/05/10/4-hurdles-to-clear-before-streaming-your-worship-services/

Live Streaming Equipment
https://www.joelwsmith.com/gear/the-budget-friendly-live-streaming-package/

Live Streaming is Overrated
https://prochurchtools.com/live-streaming-churches-overrated-ep-114/

Ultimately your church needs a digital presence to minister in this digital age. But don’t feel the pressure to do something just because other churches are doing it. Find something that fits your church and ministry, and do it well.

Feel free to contact me if you have other questions on starting a live stream at your church – steven.haney@louisianabaptists.org

 

 

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!

What Can I do to Help My Sunday School Leaders during this Pandemic?

Many will lose regular, weekly contact with their class/group. On top of that, they may not have the quality Bible instruction they have become accustomed to every Sunday or whenever their group meets. Here are a couple of suggestions/recommendations that they might try:

Every leader of a group or class should make sure every member of their class/group is contacted and prayed for every week. Relationships are the most important ingredient to a healthy, growing Bible study group. Please don’t let anyone feel alone or rejected during this difficult season.

Encourage every member of your class/group to engage in some kind of Bible study at least weekly. Whether they are alone, with a spouse, family members or friends, make sure they have a plan. Here are some suggestions:

Use your Sunday School Members Guide. Most churches provide a printed piece that you can use for your bible study time. Call another member and read and talk together. FaceTime or Skype another member of your group/class. Read together, discuss and pray for yourselves and others.

Use resources that are available through Social media like Facebook. Your class may have a Facebook group page that you can discuss and chat with online.

Use digital media. Depending on whether or not you and your church use Right Now Media or Ministry Grid from Lifeway, you can find video support for what you are studying.

Ministry Grid – https://ministrygrid.com/training/. Each of the curriculum lines has an extensive library of audio or video support. Some of it is free.

Right Now Media – https://www.rightnowmedia.org/. This resource is also being used by several congregations in Louisiana. With a church subscription, members have free access to tons of material for use whenever and wherever. Here are some suggestions.

Adults:

For those studying Explore the Bible Series (Romans) – How to be Right with God by Ed Young

Other Adult studies:

True Spirituality with Chip Ingram

The Power of Jesus Name by Tony Evans

Life, Money, Legacy by Dave Ramsey

For Families:

The Real God by Chip Ingram

Youth:

“Shaken” with Tim Tebow – https://www.rightnowmedia.org/Content/Series/204649

“Speak Truth” with Sean McDowell – https://www.rightnowmedia.org/Content/Series/297352

“Different” with Jonathan Evans – https://www.rightnowmedia.org/Content/Series/373895

“Not a Fan” with Kyle Idleman – https://www.rightnowmedia.org/Content/Series/187042

Children:

What’s in the Bible is a series by Phil Vischer, from Veggie Tales, all about the Bible – https://www.rightnowmedia.org/Content/KidsShow/1?episode=1

Worship songs for kids – https://www.rightnowmedia.org/Content/KidsShow/136822?episode=1

For Preschool Specifically – https://www.rightnowmedia.org/Content/KidsSeries/351613?episode=1

Study on Philippians (if they will search there are others just like this on most books of the Bible from the same guy that is listed at the top -https://www.rightnowmedia.org/Content/KidsShow/298875?episode=1

Whatever you decide to do, be consistent and make sure your encourage and pray for one another. We are not alone. God is with us. God is for us. God will not forsake us.

 

Contact Info:

Sean Keith
Sunday School/Discipleship Strategist
Louisiana Baptist Convention
Sean.Keith@LBC.org
Cell: 318-613-4837

What do I do when my Church has Cancelled Worship and Sunday School?

In light of all that is happening in our world, many churches are cancelling programs, events and services. There are three things every church MUST Do.

LIVE Worship – There is still a need for people to weekly engage in the big conversations about the church and its role in the community. Facebook Live is probably the quickest way to reach the majority of your congregation. To use Facebook Live, simply use your phone. Open the Facebook app. Near the top on the left, hit the LIVE button. Start the video. NOTE: Two important things. Audio is challenging. Speak clearly and succinctly. Secondly, at the end, make sure it is recorded on your phone and saved on Facebook on your account. If you are searching for help, contact other churches or your ASM (formerly Director of Missions) for assistance.

Tithe – As of today, Tuesday, March 18, 2020, Lifeway has offered an electronic method for receiving member’s tithes for free. Just go to: https://lifewaygenerosity.com/coronavirus. This will show you how to set it up for your church. In addition, encourage members that don’t do digital to simply mail the tithe check into the church office as often as they put it in the offering plate. DO NOT be afraid to share the needs and concerns to the church about finances.

Weekly Contact – In order to survive this pandemic, people will need to be contacted weekly by staff, deacons and Sunday School teachers. Everyone should be contacted by phone every week and prayed for and encouraged. Connectivity is important, especially at times like these. The consistency of contact and relationships are vital in making sure you still have a group to come back after all of this has passed.

Just remember, this too shall pass. Love on your people, encourage them and do all you can to keep them connected to God and one another.

 

Contact Info:

Sean Keith
Sunday School/Discipleship Strategist
Louisiana Baptist Convention
Sean.Keith@LBC.org
Cell: 318-613-4837

Louisiana Baptist Church Planting Update

Louisiana Baptists Church Planting Advisory Council Meeting was held this month. This council is made up of pastors, lay leaders, and Associational Missions Strategists from across Louisiana. It has met continuously since 2009, assisting and giving oversight to the work of the Missions and Ministry Team in relation to Church Planting objectives and goals. The Council heard reports this month on New Churches across Louisiana, Church Planting Training, Compassion Ministry, and State Missions Offering allocations for Church Planting. Here’s a synopsis:

  • We are 86% to our goal of 300 new churches from 2010 to 2020.
  • There are 33 projected church plants for 2020. Two churches started in January. Six new churches in process for February.
  • 57% of new churches started since 2010 have been non-anglo. 82 African-American, 35 Hispanic, 12 Asian, 18 Other.
  • In the pipeline for 2020 – 8 new Hispanic churches, 2 Portugese, 2 Asian (Burmese and Cambodian).
  • 64 churches started in North Louisiana (25%);193 in South Louisiana (75%), including 70 new churches in New Orleans or 27%.
  • 3,749 Baptisms in church plants and replants since 2010 – 14.5 per church plant. (includes first 3 years of ministry)
  • 13,977 Commitments to Christ reported by new churches since 2010 – 54 per church plant. (includes first 3 years of ministry)
  • Because of the generous giving of Louisiana Baptist Churches to the Georgia Barnette State Mission Offering in 2019, we were able to increase supplements to church plants and replants by over $10,000 per plant and give each current church plant in Louisiana a bonus at the end of 2019.

Pray for Louisiana Church Planters who are on the front lines of reaching people and meeting needs in our state.

Connect with Louisiana Baptist Church Planting here – MultiplyLA.com.

On Facebook, check out our Multiply Louisiana Facebook Group.

Breaking the 50 Barrier in Your Church (Updated)

The vast majority of churches start out with less than 50 people. Actually, 70% of our current plants in Louisiana started below 50. 38% (or 618) of all Southern Baptist Churches in Louisiana reported attendance below 50 in 2018.

Having 50 people or less is not bad. In some communities, 50 is a big church. A church of 50 has some advantages. Less overhead. More community. 50 people can encourage one another and reach out in ways that bigger churches cannot.

Most pastors have the intention of their church growing beyond 50. Mostly because we are motivated to see more and more people saved and discipled for the glory of God. Also, if you are seeking to be a vocational minister and make a living as a clergyman, 50 people usually is not enough to sustain a large personnel budget in a church.

50 can be a barrier that’s tough to get beyond. So how do we get beyond 50 people?

1. Pray for breakthrough opportunities!

Sometimes a breakthrough opportunity can happen in the life of a church. These are opportunities that open up that can only be explained as a work of God. A key meeting place for a church plant, a well-placed news story, a large financial contribution, a merger with another congregation. Pray regularly for God to open doors that man cannot open or explain.

These do not always = church growth, but they signal God is at work and will usually lead to fruitfulness and health (which have been known to lead to church growth).

2. Give away responsibility and authority.

40-50 is a barrier often because 40-50 is about the number of people that one person can lead by himself. Unfortunately, many leaders are just not willing or able to let go of or share the reigns to let others lead with them.

To multiply, the leader must become a leader of leaders.

Fear of losing control. Fear of someone doing it better. Fear of someone messing up. And, “They’re just not ready yet!” I know. Every time I read the passage about Jesus sending out the 70, I have to stop myself from yelling, “They’re just not ready yet, Jesus!”

Sending the disciples out was part of Jesus’ strategy for getting them ready, and it will be so for your leaders as well. For the sake of your sanity, for the development of people, and the growth of church and kingdom, let go and send them into ministry and leadership.

3. Develop a 2nd and a 3rd group.

40-50 is a barrier often because it’s a group that can fit in one big room. And sometimes we are too much in love with knowing everybody, having everybody together all the time, and having everybody listening to me (ouch!).

To move past 50 you need multiple groups, which means multiple leaders, which means more people owning the vision and growth of the church.

And starting multiple groups, whether its classes, teams, or whatever, helps get multiplication muscles moving for future growth.

4. Establish systems that lead people to Christ and His mission.

How do people hear about your church? What do we want people to know and do once they attend? How do we want people to connect beyond just attendance? How will we help people move toward Christ? How do we help people become leaders?

These kinds of questions help us develop a step by step path for new people coming into the church. Today more than ever, connecting with Christ and His church is not something we can assume people know how to do. We have to lead them there. Systems help us do that.

5. Be on the lookout for speed bumps and dead ends.

Where are people getting hung up in their development as disciples? What is causing attendance to stagnate? What needs are going unmet? Some common speed bumps:

  • Building & space issues. A full building is fun for us pastors, but it can put a lid on the growth of the ministry. Starting a second gathering or moving to a larger facility can keep the group growing. Rule of thumb: at 60% full, start making other arrangements and thinking about how you can create more space (2nd service, larger facility, etc.).
  • Unity issues within the church.The radar of the world is up for hypocrisy and disunity among believers. Keep relationships straight in order to grow people and the church.
  • Needs in the body that are going unmet. Watch for your Acts 6 moments. In Acts 6, the Hellenistic widows were being neglected, threatening unity and testimony. A ministry was started to meet the needs and keep the people and churches growing together.

 

What other issues or observations about breaking the 50 barrier would you add to my list?

One of my favorite church planting axioms is “In every apple there is an orchard.” God made every living thing in creation with the potential to make more. We’re all carrying seeds that can be planted to grow more of what God wants. For us, that’s disciples and churches. Do you see your church, no matter the size as a potential orchard to create more for God’s glory?

Dr. Dew’s Inauguration

Last Thursday evening, I had the distinct honor to bring greetings from Louisiana Baptists at the formal inauguration of President Jamie Dew, the new president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. I wanted to share with you the content of my greetings in hopes that you might join with me in praying for Dr. Dew’s presidency.

Greetings from Louisiana Baptist Convention on the Occasion of Dr. Dew’s Inauguration

Dr. Dew, Administration, Trustees, Faculty, Students, Distinguished Guests, I am incredibly honored to bring greetings on behalf of Louisiana Baptists and, on their behalf, congratulate you, Dr. Dew, on your inauguration as the Ninth President of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Louisiana Baptists feel both an honor and responsibility in being the home of one our six Southern Baptist Seminaries.

Dr. Dew, Louisiana Baptists have watched you embrace the uniqueness and opportunity of our state. As you have embraced us, in turn, we want you to know that we embrace and welcome your leadership. We commit our earnest prayers and recommit to being great, Great Commission partners.

We recognize that you will lead the Seminary that will educate many of the young ministers being called from our churches. We further recognize that you will lead the Seminary that trains the vast majority of pastors and ministers who will then lead our Louisiana Baptist churches. We hold to a mutual understanding that the strength of this institution translates well into the strength and health of our churches. Indeed, we are in this together.

Lastly, Dr. Dew, we have heard your call to service and humility. We welcome the challenge to pick up the towel and the basin. We welcome the charge that pride has no place in discipleship.

We look forward to the implementation of your vision as you lead this beloved school of Providence and Prayer.

May the hand of our Lord be upon you, Tara, Natalie, Nathan, Samantha, and Samuel. May God give you wisdom in your office, discipline in your prayer closet, insight in your study, peace and laughter in your home, and joy in your journey.