Pray for the New Orleans Baptist Association

Associational Mission Strategist: Jack Hunter

  • Covers Orleans, Jefferson, St. Charles, St. John the Baptist, St. Bernard, and Plaquemine Parishes.
  • Major cities are New Orleans, Kenner, Metairie, Destrehan, Chalmette.
  • 912,024 souls reside in the New Orleans Baptist Association area.
  • 15.1% of the population, or 137,848, are evangelicals.
  • 427,562 or 47% of the population are listed as none’s or non-affiliated with any church.
  • 17,640, or 1.9% of the population, attended the 145 SBC churches in New Orleans Baptist Association in 2018.
  • 69 new SBC churches have been planted in the New Orleans Baptist Association since 2010.
  • Church to Population ratio is 1 to 6,290. 175 new churches would be needed to get to our statewide ratio of 1 to 2,850. 311 new churches would be needed to get to NAMB’s suggested ratio of 1 to 2,000.

Pray for the pastors and churches of New Orleans Baptist Association. Pray for people to hunger for the gospel. Pray for believers who will share the gospel with neighbors, friends, and family members. Pray for Church Planters, RePlanters, and Partnering churches to join the workers in the harvest in the Greater New Orleans Area.

Greenhouse Church Planting Training Moves Online

Louisiana Baptists have offered free training to church planters and replanters since at least 1999. These have mostly been in the form of two day retreats at our regional Baptist retreat centers with about 100 planting team members attending the training annually. In 2020, Covid-19 safety protocols have caused us to cancel three of this year’s four planned retreats. So, this Fall, we are moving our training online.

The Greenhouse Training is designed to give a church planter, replanter, or revitalization minded pastor the tools needed to design an evangelistic strategy for church growth and multiplication. It is divided into four sections: Cultivate – Plant – Harvest – Multiply. Sessions include: Mobilizing Prayer, Knowing Your Context, Counting the Cost for Sustainability, Vision and Mission Design, Evangelism Best Practices, Compassion Ministry and Evangelism, Systems and Ministry Design, Church Admin and Legal Issues, and Organizing for Multiplication.

While the training is designed for planters and replanters, anyone can attend. Find out more by signing up for Greenhouse Orientation on August 25th, Tuesday, 7-8pm on Zoom. Register HERE.

Email me at Lane.Corley@LouisianaBaptists.org for more information.

The Fall Schedule will be as follows:

Week 1 – Aug 25
Session 1: Multiplication Ready – Orientation to Louisiana Baptists Church Planting and RePlanting

Week 2 – Sept 1
Session 2: Establishing and Mobilizing Prayer
Session 3: Knowing Your Context – Discovering Evangelistic Opportunities in the Spiritual, Social, and Cultural Context of Your Community

Week 3 – Sept 8
Session 4: Counting the Cost – Establishing a Plan for Long-term Sustainability

Week 4 – Sept 15
Session 5: Vision – Mission – Values – Crafting a Vision Script for Evangelistic Growth and Multiplication

Week 5 – Sept 22
Session 6: Evangelism Best Practices for Planters and RePlanters
Session 7: Organizing for Evangelism

Week 6 – Sept 29
Session 8: Compassion Ministry and Evangelism

Week 7 – Oct 6
Session 9: Design for Disciple-Making – Moving People from Lost to Laborer

Week 8 – Oct 13
Session 10: Organizing and Managing the Congregation

Week 9 – Oct 20
Session 11: The Exponential Power of Multiplication
Session 12: Organizing for Multiplication of Disciples, Groups, and Churches

Discovery Bible Study Training

Discovery Bible Study is a tool used in disciple making and church planting movements around the world to evangelize the lost through simple Bible discussion. In today’s changing religious landscape, the lost may say no to church, but they have not said no to spirituality. The Discovery Bible Study process teaches you to lead lost friends to discover the Gospel backed by the authority of God’s Word and God’s Spirit. Connect with this free training and get equipped to use this process that has led to millions of new believers world wide.

November 2nd – November 30th / Monday nights 7-8pm.

Register below and receive the Zoom Link for the training.

Discover Bible Study Training - Registration

To REACH or Not To REACH; That is the Question!

There are three primary objectives to Small Group Ministry, famously stated as Teach, Reach and Minister. However, I prefer to use the descriptions; Reach and Enroll New People, Teach for Life Change, and Involve Members in Ongoing Ministry. Each of these descriptions provides a clear objective.

When the Covid 19 pandemic hit, we instinctively knew we had to check on one another. We also knew that we needed to engage people in the study of God’s Word. But sadly, the last objective, Reaching and Enrolling New People, became a victim.

There has never been a point in my lifetime that people were more fearful and anxious than in today’s pandemic environment. On September 11, 2001, our country took a disastrous hit to our sense of safety. Unlike our current situation, back then, people turned to the church for support and encouragement. Compare that to how Covid 19 has separated us from family, friends, the workplace and most importantly—the church. Around the world people are searching for hope. Are we paying attention? The world is screaming in agony.  Yet, it may appear that we are more concerned with ourselves than we are with a lost and dying world.

Don’t misunderstand me. We need to care for one another. We need to reassure and encourage one another and forsake not the assembling of ourselves—in person or online. But, we also need to be light to a dark world. And believe me, it looks very dark right now.

I’d like to make a suggestion. In the midst of caring for family, friends and church members, would you commit to focusing once or twice a day on one person who is not connected to any church or Small Group? Pray for this person every day. Call, email or text to let them know you are praying for them. Consider making a visit to pray with them in person. Or, discover a need and minister to them in a personal way. As a matter of fact, Southern Baptists have called this emphasis, “Who’s Your One?”

Our world, our nation and our communities need to hear some Good News for a change. Jesus Saves! So, get involved. We can’t wait until things calm down and get back to “normal”. People need to hear from and see Jesus in us, today!

Pray for COLLEGE Students

I met Mae this week working at a local restaurant. It didn’t take many questions to find out she was a first semester freshman at LSU. The troubling difference in her story from other students I have met in summers past is she has decided to sit out the fall semester on campus and take online classes until her family can see clearer what is happening with the Covid-19 pandemic. Students and their families are hesitant at best and stifled by fear of the unknown at worst.  Never before have we needed to hear these words from the Apostle Paul more than this fall “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by dayFor our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So, we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV)

For most of my adult life I have said and heard people say a variation of the statement “The most important period of a college student’s life is the first six weeks of their freshman year”  Those words have never been more true than this pandemic-impaired fall semester on college campuses around the world.  Campuses are opening amidst campus Covid-19 mitigation plans and students are moving into campus housing, buying books and working out class schedules. Most campuses will not have the atmosphere of normal classroom experiences, collegiate sports, welcome activities or large social gatherings this fall.  Those of us that have spent our life ministering in the university community are concerned about the impact of this new environment on new students.

Just as churches are learning to be creative, our Baptist Collegiate Ministries have been planning all summer to impact the campuses with the Gospel in new creative ways. Each college community in Louisiana is opening with student’s health and safety in mind.  However, there is quite a variety of approaches being taken – ranging from one campus having all classes online to others having a full classroom experience available and adding online options.  Our BCM’s have adjusted by focusing more on Gospel appointments with people far from God and Discipleship conversations with students and staff seeking to grow closer to Christ while operating under the guidelines provided by each campus.

A challenging environment on campus doesn’t mean God is not at work. Adversity often reveals how and where He is at work, particularly in the lives of students. When a person’s routine is clouded with crisis, they are more likely to think about spiritual things and are more open to the hope for eternity found in the person of Christ.

Now is the time to PRAY! As a new semester begins amidst the most challenging conditions of these students young lives, would you please pray and encourage those you lead to pray as well?  Here are a few specific ways to pray:

For Students who know Christ:

  • Understanding and acceptance of the call to make disciples, Matthew 28:19-20.
  • Vision for what God can do in difficult times, Isaiah 41:10.
  • Growth in the Lord, Hebrews 6:1.
  • Protection from dangerous circumstances and anxiety. 2 Thessalonians 3:3, Philippians 4, Psalm 34:7-9.
  • Missional call to reach the nations for Christ

For those students who are far from God:

  • To see God at work around them and understand the Gospel, John 1:14.
  • To make relationships with Gospel-centered Christians, Philippians 2:5-7.
  • For protection from the negative environment that could surround them, 1 Corinthians 10:13.
  • To find hope in Christ, Psalm 71:5.
  • For protection from depression, distraction, unhealthy relationships, self-medication, 2 Thessalonians 3:3-5.

Students are face to face with an unpredictable season of unknown circumstances. That does not mean they can’t live a life of victory in Christ.  Join me in praying for the most powerful spiritual revival in remembrance to happen on the college campus this year.  Let us not focus on what we cannot control, predict or understand in the foggy distant future but rather focus on the very clear task at hand given to believers by Jesus.  Make Disciples.

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To view, pray for and connect with the BCM personnel in your area, click here.

Digital ReGroup 2020 Recap

The role of the leader for a Sunday School class or a small group is crucial to the growth and health of a church—especially in times like these. We hope these webcasts and resources will encourage and equip you in the vital role you play in your church and community. Thank you for being a part of Digital ReGroup 2020. Let us hear from you.

Session 1: Pastors/Staff/Key Ministry Leaders


Resources:

Personalities:

Host: Stewart Holloway
Stewart has served churches in LA and TX in the areas of youth, music and the pastorate. Currently he is the Pastor of First Baptist, Pineville, where he has been since 2008. He is a graduate of Louisiana College and received his M. Div. and Doctorate in Preaching from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Special Guest: Steve Bennett
Steve serves as Pastor, First, Moss Bluff.  Previously, he pastored churches in LA, TX, MS and NY. He has served as an adjunct lecturer in seminary and led international Cell Group conferences. He is a graduate of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and received his D. Min. from Luther Rice International.

Special Guest: Matt Endris
Matt is the Pastor of Fairview Baptist Church, Coushatta, since 2006. Previously, he pastored Atlanta Baptist Church. Originally from Shreveport, he holds a B.S. in Psychology from Northwestern State University, an M. Div. from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a D. Min. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He has served in Baptist life at the associational, state, and national levels for several entities.

Presenter: Sean Keith
Sean is the Sunday School/Discipleship Strategist for Louisiana Baptists. Previously he served as Minister of Education/Adult Minister at FBC, Rockwall, TX, Lifeway Christian Resources and the Mississippi Baptist Convention as a Student Ministry Specialist. Sean is a graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Session 2: Adult Leaders


Resources:

Personalities:

Host: Stewart Holloway
Stewart has served churches in LA and TX in the areas of youth, music and the pastorate. Currently he is the Pastor of First Baptist, Pineville, where he has been since 2008. He is a graduate of Louisiana College and received his M. Div. and Doctorate in Preaching from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Special Guest: David Apple
David provides training and consultations for adult leaders and church staff in churches across the country and internationally. He also pastors Battle Creek Baptist Church near Nashville, TN. David served as a Lifeway Adult Ministry trainer for more than 35 years.

Presenter: Jeff Ingram
Jeff is the Adult Ministry & Church Administration Strategist for Louisiana Baptists, serving since 2008. He is a graduate of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, earning Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees.

Session 3: Next Gen./Preschool/Children’s Leaders


Resources:

Personalities:

Host: Steve Horn
Steve is the Executive Director for Louisiana Baptists. Previously he served as Pastor of First Baptist Church, Lafayette and also pastored churches in New Iberia, Livingston and Natalbany. He is a graduate of Rhodes College and holds an M.Div. and PH.D from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Additionally, Steve has held numerous national and state denominational positions.

Special Guest: Mark Jones
Mark is the Children’s Pastor at Quail Springs Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, OK. He has previously worked with the Oklahoma Baptist Convention and as LifeWay Christian Resources’ Childhood Specialist. He is the creator of mrmarksclassroom.com.

Presenter: David Anderson
David has been the Children’s Ministry Strategist for Louisiana Baptists since 2011. He is a graduate of the University of Central Oklahoma Edmond, OK and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has served in churches in FL, LA, OK, TX and VA.

Session 4: Next Gen./Youth Leaders


Resources:

Personalities:

Host: Steve Horn
Steve is the Executive Director for Louisiana Baptists. Previously he served as Pastor of First Baptist Church, Lafayette and also pastored churches in New Iberia, Livingston and Natalbany. He is a graduate of Rhodes College and holds an M.Div. and PH.D from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Additionally, Steve has held numerous national and state denominational positions.

Special Guest: Blake Lewis
Blake is the Middle School Pastor, First, Haughton (since 2016), and has served in student ministry since 2013. He received his Masters Degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, concentrating in Student Ministry. Blake loves to help equip parents with resources on how to better disciple their students through technology.

Special Guest: Ray McCon
Ray is a 30-year Youth Ministry Veteran and has been privileged to serve churches of all sizes. Currently, he is the Minister of Students at Walker Baptist Church, Walker, where he has led for 22 years. It is his great joy to share the Gospel with students, witness their transformation through salvation, and teach them to be disciple-makers.

Presenter: Brandon Lewis
Brandon is a native of Ruston and has served churches across LA, TX and MS. He has also worked with planning committees for youth ministry events alongside the Louisiana and Mississippi Baptist Conventions. Brandon is currently serving as the Youth Ministry Strategist for the Louisiana Baptists.

The Giants Just Keep Coming

2 Samuel 22:7

In my distress I called to the Lord;
    I called out to my God.
From his temple he heard my voice;
    my cry came to his ears. (NIV)

My Facebook memory notifications are reminding me that this week marks four years since the historic floods in South Louisiana. Our church at the time had 50 families with water in their homes. In some ways, four years seems like a lifetime ago. So it is with Hurricanes Katrina and Rita of 2005. So it is with 9-11, now nearly 19 years ago. One day, we will talk about COVID-19 the way we talk about these other life catastrophes.

All of those were, and are headline-dominant, history-making, life-altering events – giants, if you will.  And in this COVID-weary season, there often appears to be no shortage of these giants. They simply keep coming. Their shadows cover our attempts to recapture some degree of normalcy in our ministries, our families and our culture.

We know about David’s battle with Goliath, but the rapid succession of giants coming against David, as recorded in 2 Samuel 21:15-22, is not as familiar. In the span of eight verses, we learn of four giants coming against Israel. All four were descendants of that great giant, Goliath. All were notorious in one way or the other. One even had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot! Words like “again,” “another,” and “after that” dominate this portion of the story. Sometimes, the giants seem to keep coming—again and again.

We’re not facing literal giants but COVID, civil unrest, political bickering, and economic uncertainty all could qualify as giants. And the toll these giants inflicted on David, leave their mark on us as well.

As you read 2 Samuel 21 and 22, notice these truths:

  1. Battling giants leaves us exhausted (2 Samuel 21:15). David was a warrior. He was accustomed to battles. He was victorious for the most part but after a while, the constant battles with giants began to exert their toll on him. One of the most frequent comments I hear from pastors across our state is they are exhausted. Some have become so fatigued, they have left the ministry. But be encouraged because …
  2. God sends us people to help us with the giants. David killed Goliath, but he didn’t kill any of the four giants of 2 Samuel 21. God knows when to send others to our aid. When your tank is empty, God often fills it with the assistance of others.
  3. God hears our prayers. There’s no mention of prayer in 2 Samuel 21, but in David’s reflection of the events in 2 Samuel 22 we see that he “called to the Lord” and God “heard.” Perhaps you could use the reminder today that God hears when we call. In our exhaustion, in our distress, we may not “feel” like He hears – but He does.
  4. God receives our praise. You would think 2 Samuel 22 belongs in the Psalms. This beautiful Psalm fits the narrative of the victory over the giants in 2 Samuel 21. It brings to mind the one leper among the ten who immediately returned to Jesus to offer Him praise for the healing from his leprosy. David recognized that his deliverance came from God. Let us do the same.

Today it’s COVID-19 and all the consequences that accompany a pandemic. Tomorrow – only God knows. The giants will keep coming. But . . . God. God is present. God knows our condition. God hears. He provides. Let us praise Him, even in our exhaustion, because He is worthy of our praise.

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.] – Matthew 11:28 (AMP)

Pray for the Baptist Association of Greater Baton Rouge

Associational Mission Strategist: Tommy Middleton

  • Covers Ascension, East Baton Rouge, Point Coupee, St. James, Iberville, and West Baton Rouge Parishes.
  • Major cities are Baton Rouge, New Roads, Prairieville, Gonzalez, Port Allen, Gramercy, Donaldsonville.
  • 649,465 souls reside in the Baptist Association of Greater Baton Rouge.
  • 29.2% of the population, or 189,773, are evangelicals.
  • 246,142 or 38% of the population are listed as none’s or non-affiliated with any church.
  • Only 13,660, or 2.1% of the population, attended the 111 SBC churches in Baptist Association of Greater Baton Rouge in 2018.
  • 36 new SBC churches have been planted in the Baptist Association of Greater Baton Rouge since 2010.
  • Church to Population ratio is 1 to 5,851. 117 new churches would be needed to get to our statewide ratio of 1 to 2,850. 214 new churches would be needed to get to NAMB’s suggested ratio of 1 to 2,000.

Pray for the pastors and churches of the Baptist Association of Greater Baton Rouge. Pray for people to hunger for the gospel. Pray for believers who will share the gospel with neighbors, friends, and family members. Pray for Church Planters, RePlanters, and Partnering churches to join the workers in the harvest in Greater Baton Rouge.

Pray for Evangeline Baptist Association

Associational Mission Strategist: David Carlton
  • Covers Lafayette, Vermillion, St. Martin and Iberia Parishes.
  • Major towns are Lafayette, New Iberia, Abbeville, Youngville.
  • 404,977 souls reside in Evangeline Association.
  • 12.7% of the population, or 51,515, are evangelicals.
  • 141,696 or 35% of the population are listed as none’s or non-affiliated with any church.
  • Only 5,898, or 1.5% of the population, attended the 45 SBC churches in Evangeline Baptist Association in 2018.
  • 15 new SBC churches have been planted in Evangeline Association since 2010.
  • Church to Population ratio is 1 to 8,999. 97 new churches would be needed to get to our statewide ratio of 1 to 2,850. 157 new churches would be needed to get to NAMB’s suggested ratio of 1 to 2,000.
Pray for the pastors and churches of Evangeline Association. Pray for people to hunger for the gospel. Pray for believers who will share the gospel with neighbors, friends, and family members. Pray for Church Planters, RePlanters, and Partnering churches to join the workers in the harvest in Evangeline Association.

The Season We’re In

COVID-19 is still here and, if the news reports are any indication, it’s not going anywhere soon.

Countless prayers meetings, large and small, have been held asking God to remove this virus. God has certainly heard our prayers but the answer appears to be “no” or “not yet,” at least for now.

So, where does that leave us as believers? As the church?

Most churches regathered with around 30%- 50% of their pre-COVID attendance. For most this meant no hugs, no right-hand-of-fellowship, and certainly no close conversation. And many congregations are still struggling to restart Sunday School, for all ages, in light of the current restrictions.

I believe this leaves us where Paul was when he wrote his second letter to the believers living in Corinth.

So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (NLT)

Paul was in a frustrating and apparently painful season. The details are unclear regarding what this thorn was, but it allows us to step into the story and frame it within our present circumstances.  He had work to do. Churches to start. Congregations that needed follow-up. False teaching to address and more. He didn’t have time for this “thorn,” so three times Paul “begged” God to take it away. God heard his prayers – and said no.

For months now, Louisiana Baptists have joined together to pray for the removal of a “thorn” called COVID-19. We have fasted and we have prayed, on multiple occasions – and we’re still praying. The lack of a preferred answer is leading to discontentment, frustration and fatigue.

So again, where does this leave us?

From all indications we may be in a “grace sufficient season,” if you will. In other words we can exist in a season of disgruntled discontentment or we can embrace God’s response to Paul “my grace is sufficient for you.”

Don’t miss Paul’s response – he did not nod his head in agreement with God’s response and continue to complain about his thorn. Instead he began to “boast about his weakness.” Instead of complaining about this painful, inconvenient season, he actually began to “take pleasure” in his weakness, hardships, persecutions and troubles. As David Jeremiah wrote in the midst of his own thorn-in-the-flesh days, “I learned to pray out of desperation. For most of us, this is how the adventure usually begins.”

What did Paul know that we may be missing?

He understood his weakness released God’s power, God’s strength.

Isn’t this what we need?

In our rush to return to normal we forget that “normal” saw decades of decline in worship, baptisms, Sunday School attendance and other indicators. Our programs, initiatives and emphases did little to slow down or stop the downward trend. An average of two churches a month closed their doors in Louisiana. Our seasons of “normal” saw a lot of activity but often, little fruit.

So maybe, just maybe God has moved us into a new season to remind us that we are a body, not a building. We are a people, not a program. We are a movement, not a museum.  Most of all, it’s a season where we have to depend upon Him instead of ourselves. Think about it, history shows us that the church has prospered in unconventional times.

This “grace sufficient season” is one where we stop complaining and start connecting. We take “pleasure” in and give thanks for the circumstances that appear to be holding us back. Instead, these become altars on which we can lay our weaknesses and gateways for God’s power to flow through us.

A prayer: “Father, we thank you that you have heard our prayers and it appears your answer for now is no. Forgive us for complaining against our officials, our church leaders and even against each other. Through your Spirit help us give thanks for what you’ve provided to get us through this pandemic – your grace and your power. We acknowledge our weakness and ask that your power begin to flow through us so we can be the salt and light you’ve left us here to be. Give us your power and wisdom to advance your plans and purposes, even during this pandemic. Thank you for this grace sufficient season. In your Son’s name we pray …”