Pray for Acadia Association

 Associational Mission Strategist: Bert Langley
  • Covers Acadia, St. Landry, and part of Evangeline Parishes.
  • Major towns are Opelousas, Ville Platte, Crowley, Mamou, and Eunice.
  • 179,141 souls reside in Acadia Association.
  • 12.2% of the population, or 21,803, are evangelicals.
  • 56,476 or 32% of the population are listed as none’s or non-affiliated with any church. (They’re not all Catholic). 
  • Five new SBC churches have been planted in Acadia since 2010, including Christ Church Opelousas, Berean Baptist in Crowley, New Life Arnoldville.
  • Church to Population ratio is 1 to 3,980. 18 new churches would be needed to get to our statewide ratio of 1 to 2,850. 45 new churches would be needed to get to NAMB’s suggested ratio of 1 to 2,000.
  • Acadia is also home to Acadian Baptist Center. Great camp with rich history of missions and evangelism.
Pray for the pastors and churches of Acadia 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 new African-American churches that are in the works in this area.

 

Re-Engaging Your Sunday School or Small Groups Ministry – Pt. 4

Part 4 – Ministering and Caring for One Another

34 “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35 (CSBBible). The weekly Worship Service is designed to show our love for God as we Worship and praise Him together. It is in the small group or Sunday School class is where the church is organized to care for one another. This critical aspect of your small group or class is key to a healthy, growing church.

During this pandemic, we have learned how truly important it is to stay connected and look for opportunities to pray for one another, encourage one another and help one another. Jesus described this as how the world (everyone) would know we are His disciples. At the same time, the Bible describes the church as a family. Family takes care of family. We are also described as a body; working together to accomplish the work of God, for His glory.

The secret to a healthy, growing church is a vibrant, healthy, growing small group or class. Don’t miss the opportunities this “slow down” has created for us. We need each other; even more so as we face the task of “making disciples” who will make disciples. We can’t accomplish our mission without God or each other. Let us Love One Another!

Still need more ideas?

Join us on Monday, August 10th and Tuesday August 11th, for Louisiana Baptists first ever, Digital ReGroup Conference. Not only will this be a timely message for those who lead the Sunday School and/or Small Group Ministry in their church, but ESPECIALLY for all those who lead a class or small group every week. We need to prepare these wonderful lay people who have the responsibility of making disciples through their class or small group for the New Normal.

We are asking you to commit to one hour. Below, you will see the schedule and the people who can help us understand the opportunities and challenges we face for the next few weeks and months. The webinar is free. All you have to do is register and watch.

Registration is open now at LouisianaBaptists.org/ReGroup20

If you can’t participate in the live webcast, you can view it online. The recording will be available at our website by Friday, August 14th.

Here is the Digital ReGroup schedule:

  • Pastors/Staff/Key Ministry LeadersMonday, August 10th, 6:00-7:00 PM

With Special Guests Steve Bennett, Pastor, First, Moss Bluff, Matt Endris

Pastor, Fairview, Coushatta and Sean Keith, Sunday School/Discipleship Strategist, Louisiana Baptists, with Host Stewart Holloway, Pastor, First, Pineville.

  • Adult LeadersMonday, August 10th, 7:30–8:30 PM

Special Guest David Apple, Adult Ministry Consultant, Nashville, TN, and

Jeff Ingram, Adult Ministry & Church Administration Strategist, Louisiana Baptists, with Host Stewart Holloway, Pastor, First, Pineville.

  • Next Gen/Preschool/Children’s LeadersTuesday, August 11th, 6:00-7:00 PM

Special Guest, Mark Jones, Children’s Pastor, Quail Springs, Oklahoma City, OK and David Anderson, Children’s Strategist, Louisiana Baptists, with Host Dr. Steve Horn, Executive Director, Louisiana Baptists, Alexandria.

  • Next Gen/Student LeadersTuesday, August 11th, 7:30-8:30 PM

Special Guests Blake Lewis, Middle School Pastor, First, Haughton; Ray McCon, Minister to Students, Walker, Walker and Brandon Lewis, Youth Strategist, Louisiana Baptists, with Host Dr. Steve Horn, Executive Director, Louisiana Baptists, Alexandria.

Mark these dates and times on your calendar and make every effort to join us live.

A Reasonable Request

“But his servants caught up with him and said, ‘… if the prophet had asked you to do something hard and heroic, wouldn’t you have done it? So why not this simple ‘wash and be clean’?”  

2 Kings 5:13, The Message 

We have prayed for COVID to go away – but it continues to spread. 

We have prayed for a return to some degree of normalcy – but it continues to elude us.  

We’ve prayed for the scientists who are working feverishly to develop a vaccine – and there have been encouraging reports in recent days. 

And now our governor, at the request of a Louisiana pastor, is asking us to pray again.  

 During this pandemic, if a renowned scientist asked us to do something difficult to help expedite COVID’s exit, we would probably volunteer for the task. I’m asking Louisiana Baptists to respond positively to the governor’s request.  

 The verse above is from a familiar story in the Old Testament. Naaman was a powerful military figure, but Naaman was a leper. He learned of a person, a prophet who could cure him of this dreaded, incurable disease.  

 He was expecting the prophet to say something that would cure his leprosy or tell him to do something that would reverse its effects. 

 Instead, the prophet sent his servant to tell the military leader to go and dip himself in the Jordan rivers seven times and he would be cured. It was a reasonable request. 

Today we would say he was “outraged.” He stormed off in the same condition in which he arrived. His servants caught up with him and began to reason with their master.  “… if the prophet had asked you to do something hard and heroic, wouldn’t you have done it? So why not this simple ‘wash and be clean’?  

If you’re familiar with the story, you know Naaman reluctantly followed the prophet’s direction and was healed.  

Our governor has requested all the people of faith in Louisiana to join in a season of focused prayer and fasting on July 20-22.   

I believe this is a reasonable request and I encourage you to participate as you are able.  

I’ve heard people say something along the lines of “I’m so over this,” meaning they are weary of dealing with COVID, the fear it has caused and the interruption it has brought our lives. 

We all want COVID to go away. We want our kids to safely go back to school. We want a return to some degree of normalcy, which includes returning to our buildings for worship and Bible study. So Louisiana Baptists, let’s respond positively to this request and join our hearts and our prayers with those around the state on July 20-22 

 Let me close with Paul’s charge to the early believers living in Ephesus, which I believe is applicable to our current circumstances, “Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers” – Ephesians 6:18, NLT.  

Re-Engaging Your Sunday School or Small Groups Ministry – Pt. 3

Part 3  – Teaching a Life-Changing Bible Study

Now more than ever, people need to hear from God. 22 But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like someone looking at his own face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of person he was. 25 But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer who works — this person will be blessed in what he does.James 1:22-25 (CSBBible)

Life-changing Bible study doesn’t just happen. People need to earnestly seek God. The leader of a class or group needs to spend time engaging in God’s Word and putting together the best plan possible to engage his or her members in the study and application of God’s Word. It is an honor and a privilege to guide people in their walk with Christ. Our goal should always be to make disciples who will make disciples. That is our mandate, our purpose.

Whether the people you lead are meeting in person or online, you need to pray for them and encourage them as servants of the Most, High God. People are struggling with their faith as they live in challenging and difficult times. People need to be reminded that God’s Word can and will be an encouragement to them as well as a guide for life.

People need to:

  • Engage God daily through His Word
  • Memorize Scripture to guide them daily through life
  • Weekly engage with others the truths of God’s Word and love one another

Still need more ideas?

Join us on Monday, August 10th and Tuesday August 11th, for Louisiana Baptists first ever, Digital ReGroup Conference. Not only will this be a timely message for those who lead the Sunday School and/or Small Group Ministry in their churches, but ESPECIALLY for all those who lead a class or small group every week. We need to prepare these wonderful lay people who have the responsibility of making disciples through their class or small group for the New Normal.

We are asking you to commit to one hour. Below, you will see the schedule and the people who can help us understand the opportunities and challenges we face for the next few weeks and months. The webcast is free. All you have to do is register and watch. If you can’t participate in the live webcast, you can view it online. The recording will be available by Friday, August 14th on our website at www.LouisianaBaptists.org/ReGroup20Recap.

Here is the Digital ReGroup schedule:

  • Pastors/Staff/Key Ministry LeadersMonday, August 10th, 6:00-7:00 PM

With Special Guests Steve Bennett, Pastor, First, Moss Bluff, Matt Endris

Pastor, Fairview, Coushatta and Sean Keith, Sunday School/Discipleship Strategist, Louisiana Baptists

  • Adult LeadersMonday, August 10th, 7:30–8:30 PM

Special Guest David Apple, Adult Ministry Consultant, Nashville, TN, and

Jeff Ingram, Adult Ministry & Church Administration Strategist, Louisiana Baptists

  • Preschool/Children’s LeadersTuesday, August 11th, 6:00-7:00 PM

Special Guest, Mark Jones, Children’s Pastor, Quail Springs, Oklahoma City, OK and David Anderson, Children’s Strategist, Louisiana Baptists

  • Student LeadersTuesday, August 11th, 7:30-8:30 PM

Special Guests Blake Lewis, Middle School Pastor, First, Haughton; Ray McCon, Minister to Students, Walker, Walker and Brandon Lewis, Youth Strategist, Louisiana Baptists.

Mark these dates and times on your calendar and make every effort to join us live.

Pray for Bayou Baptist Association

 Associational Mission Strategist: Joseph Arnold
  • Covers Assumption, Lafourche, and Terrebonne Parishes and Grand Isle (which is in Jefferson Parish).
  • Major towns are Houma, Thibodaux, Cutoff, Golden Meadow, Napoleonville, Pierre Part
  • 233,598 souls reside in Bayou Association.
  • 10% of the population, or 24,349, are evangelicals.
  • Only 2,676, or 1.2% of the population, attend the 32 SBC churches in these parishes.
  • 79,641 or 34% of the population are listed as none’s or non-affiliated with any church. (They’re not all Catholic).
  • Nine new SBC churches have been planted in Bayou Association since 2010.
  • Church to Population ratio is 1 to 7,237. 50 new churches would be needed to get to our statewide ratio of 1 to 2,850. 85 new churches would be needed to get to NAMB’s suggested ratio of 1 to 2,000.
Pray for the pastors and churches of Bayou Association. Pray for people to hunger for the gospel. Pray for believers who will share the gospel with neighbors, friends, and family members.

What Do We Do When We Need a Win?

At the risk of sounding like the cartoon character, The Born Loser, I confess to you that I’ve had my share of losing. In four seasons as a high school football player for example, we won 6 of 40 games and 2 of those 6 were taken away for using an ineligible player.

I’m not sure how you’re feeling, but as we reach the midpoint of 2020, it sure seems like we could use a win right now. Recent statistical research among Southern Baptists and Louisiana Baptists reminds us we are losing ground on almost every number we count. The recent Supreme Court decisions regarding the redefinition of “sex” and the striking down of a Louisiana law mandating abortion providers have hospital admitting privileges feel like big losses. The escalation of racial tensions driven by injustices cause us to wonder if we have lost ground as it relates to race relations in America. And, if you believe many of the news reports, we seem to be falling behind in the fight against COVID-19.

I don’t know about you, but I sure could use a “win.”

So, this begs the question, what do we do when we need a win? I want to encourage us today to do at least three things.

  1. Watch your words. Blaming somebody else is not going move us towards a win. Recently, several of our SBC leaders produced a video spot where they agreed, “It’s on me!” I love that spirit. I join them. “It’s on me.” I can do better. I must do better.
  2. Keep Working. Looking back on my high school football days, one thing that I have always appreciated about my coaches is that they never let us quit. We practiced and prepared as hard and as long in week 10 as we did in week 1. Even though we have lost some ground, we must keep working. There is always something to do. Let me offer one real solution in light of the Supreme Court decision against Louisiana abortion law. Let the decision prompt you to make a donation to your local pregnancy center, the Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home, or even a family who is working toward adoption. Take a loss and make it your win.
  3. Keep reminding yourself that ultimately, we win. If losing has taught me anything in life, it has taught me that winning is sweet and never to be taken for granted. When I went on to play football at a small college, we won our first 7 games my freshman year. I won more games in my first 7 college games than my four years of high school. And, it was sweet! The Bible is clear that ultimately those of us, in Christ, will win.

So, think on these words . . .

Galatians 6:9 – Let us not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up.

1 Corinthians 2:9 – What no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no human heart has conceived—God has prepared these things for those who love him.

Isaiah 50:7, Living Bible – Because the Lord God helps me I will not be dismayed. Therefore I have set my face like flint to do His will and I know that I will triumph.

Re-Engaging Your Sunday School or Small Groups Ministry – Pt. 2

Part 2 – Reaching New People

In the midst of trying to stay connected to the membership of our congregation, we must not forget or neglect those in our community who STILL need to hear the Gospel unto salvation and know that there is a church that cares about them. The Great Commission is still our mandate to Go and Make Disciples. The needs of those in our community without Christ or a church home, are similar to those in our church. Let’s not lose focus on the Main Thing. Besides, what our church probably needs more than anything is fresh perspective from new people. Also, new people know other people who may need Christ or need a class or group to minister and care for them.

Whenever your church begins re-engaging your classes or groups back on campus, or, into regular, weekly meetings, make sure you have a plan to reach out and connect new people. Let’s face it, maybe your classes or groups have become complacent or comfortable. This might be a great time to offer an opportunity to “mix things up”. Invite some new people. Take a chance and start a new group, join a different group or try a different time or location.

Here are three tips to make it happen when you re-engage your class or group.

  • Make a list – Make a list of people that you and the members of your group know that are not connected to a church or small group. Collect contact information for each person.
  • Pray for them weekly – Engage your class in praying for those people BY NAME every week. Ask God to speak to their heart about their relationship with you. Ask God to work in your life to connect with them in some way.
  • Invite them – Why not invite these new people to join you as you re-engage your class or group? It is a great time to connect new people. The worst that could happen is they say no.
  • Continue to pray and connect – Some people just need to know that you really care. If you do, then continue to call, email, text and visit. After a while, it may become apparent that they would rather you didn’t contact them so much. If so, just back off a little and continue to pray and focus more on those who are open to your contact. God’s timing is ALWAYS perfect.

Is it worth the time and energy to reach out, connect with new people and invite them to be a part of your class or group? Yes, Yes, Yes. It’s worth it. Need more ideas?

Join us on Monday, August 10th and Tuesday August 11th, for Louisiana Baptists’ first ever Digital ReGroup Conference. Not only will this be a timely message for those who lead the Sunday School and/or Small Group Ministry in their church, but ESPECIALLY for all those who lead a class or small group every week. We need to prepare these wonderful lay people who have the responsibility of making disciples through their class or small group for the New Normal.

We are asking you to commit to one hour. Below, you will see the schedule and the people who can help us understand the opportunities and challenges we face for the next few weeks and months. The webcast is free. All you have to do is register and watch (registration will open mid-July). If you can’t participate in the live webcast, you can view it online. The recording will be available by Friday, August 14th on our website at LouisianaBaptists.org/ReGroup20Recap.

Here is the Digital ReGroup schedule:

  • Pastors/Staff/Key Ministry LeadersMonday, August 10th, 6:00-7:00 PM

With Special Guests Steve Bennett, Pastor, First, Moss Bluff, Matt Endris

Pastor, Fairview, Coushatta and Sean Keith, Sunday School/Discipleship Strategist, Louisiana Baptists

  • Adult LeadersMonday, August 10th, 7:30–8:30 PM

Special Guest David Apple, Adult Ministry Consultant, Nashville, TN, and

Jeff Ingram, Adult Ministry & Church Administration Strategist, Louisiana Baptists

  • Preschool/Children’s LeadersTuesday, August 11th, 6:00-7:00 PM

Special Guest, Mark Jones, Children’s Pastor, Quail Springs, Oklahoma City, OK and David Anderson, Children’s Strategist, Louisiana Baptists

  • Student LeadersTuesday, August 11th, 7:30-8:30 PM

Special Guests Blake Lewis, Middle School Pastor, First, Haughton; Ray McCon, Minister to Students, Walker, Walker and Brandon Lewis, Youth Strategist, Louisiana Baptists.

Mark these dates and times on your calendar and make every effort to join us live.

Rethinking Care Teams

Many Sunday Schools have organized the class to better meet the needs of the group. The goal of care teams usually centers on making sure specific needs of group members don’t go unmet, or they function as a tool for keeping up with all the people in the group. There is nothing wrong with these objectives, and they both have value.

Let’s look back at Flake for a moment. Flake emphasized that everyone can serve in some way in and through the Sunday School. What if we thought of care teams as a means of providing a vehicle for people in the group to serve as opposed to only as a way of discovering needs?

If we begin to think in terms of finding ways for people to serve, then we may also realize the fallacy of the teacher doing it all. We may be able to keep up with everyone in the group, but at what expense? We have people in the group who can serve, and we are cheating them out of the opportunity by not letting them do so. The greater goal is not about keeping up with the group. The greater goal is helping the people in the group develop and grow spiritually, and serving is a means of accomplishing that.

Creating Care Teams

Let’s look at the steps we may need to take to establish, re-institute, or redefine care teams.

We need to begin by defining what we are trying to do. In the past we may have defined the purpose in terms of keeping connected with everyone on the ministry list. Instead, we need to find a way of bringing serving to the forefront. We might use terms like providing a vehicle for serving, for making a difference in the lives of others, and growing through serving others.

The purpose of care teams is different from the prayer partners suggested in Chapter 2. Prayer partners are about building community while care teams are about providing a means for serving. Both involve prayer, but they do so with a very different focus in mind. We could combine the two with prayer partners being assigned within care groups, but doing so may impact the fostering of community within the group as a whole.

How can you redefine for your group the purpose of care groups in terms of serving?

After we articulate the purpose, we can then focus on the specifics. We need to define the expectations for each care group leader. Do we expect them to simply contact the people on their lists and offer to pray for them or will we expect them to do more? What do we consider a contact—text, call, or personal visit? We may want to incorporate a monthly prayer time at the end of the group time for care groups to pray together. If we do that, then potential care leaders will want to know that they are responsible for facilitating that prayer time. Communicating clear expectations to potential care leaders helps them know when they succeed.

Next, we can focus on determining how many care groups we will need. If we lead a co-ed group, we need at least two care groups, one for the men and one for the women. A good rule of thumb would be one for every four to seven group members of the same sex. The number of people assigned to each care group needs to be manageable and allow for more to be added as the group reaches more people.

Some may choose to exclude those who never attend, missionary members, prospects who have yet to attend, or those who attend every Sunday. It makes sense that we include everyone on the ministry list. The smaller the number of people we include, the less the opportunity to serve. We may want to create a care group made up of only missionary members (people who would be in our class if they were not teaching elsewhere), but we need to include them in some way.

If we have nineteen on our ministry list, plus four missionary members serving in other groups, we will need four to six groups (if starting with groups of seven, 19 + 4 + us = 24; 24 ÷ 7 = 3.4 so we round up to 4; if you start with groups of four people, 24 ÷ 4 = 6).

Once we know how many care groups we need, we can then consider how we will secure these care leaders. Every option comes with pros and cons to each. We can present the idea of care groups, asking for volunteers to approach us. Some who we never thought would be interested will express interest, which can be a pro or a con. We can identify people who could (and should) serve and approach them individually until we secure the number we need. This puts the burden on our backs, but we know the people we approach will be vetted. We might even consider a three or six month rotation system, giving everyone the opportunity to serve as a care leader in the course of one or two years. The only problem is not everyone will want to serve, so this leaves some holes. Some have even utilized an alternating month approach to involve more, but this also can create an inconsistent atmosphere.

What approach of selection do you believe will best serve your group and why?

While we are on the subject of rotation, we need to consider the length of time we are asking care group leaders to serve. Providing a set end date makes it more inviting for the recruit. In most cases, a commitment of one year works best. We can give them the opportunity to do it again after a year and may even give them a different group for which to care. If a group has a difficult time committing to a year, we might even consider a six-month commitment. The issue is setting a time that works for the group and then sticking with it.

The Forum – Session Recordings

The Forum is designed for youth ministry leaders to gain helpful information on challenging issues, learn practical ways to structure youth ministry for maximum impact, share insights learned from experience, and enjoy fellowship.

Below you will find recordings of all 4 sessions and a Q&A session of The Forum held on February 21, 2020. Speaker Clint Davis discusses the following topics…

  • Social Media and Pornography: the effects on students, the youth minister, and the youth ministry.
  • R & R: the importance of a healthy lifestyle and rest for the youth minister.
  • Homosexuality and Gender Identity: youth ministry’s proper response.
  • Past, Present, and Future: understanding how personal issues affect your ministry, addressing them, and moving forward.

Re-Engaging Your Sunday School or Small Groups Ministry – Pt. 1

Part One – the Introduction

Are you like me, growing weary of hearing or talking about Covid 19? When are we ever going to get back to normal? Even so, it is our current reality, and we talk about it because it affects our everyday lives.  But, it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be talking about and planning for Sunday School and Small Group Ministry to resume on our church campuses. “When” and “how” are important questions that we must use to address, plan, and prepare.

In our planning and decision-making, we need to be mindful of the following: 1) Sunday School and/or Small Group ministries in our churches’ are foundational to the health and growth of our churches. The longer we go without regular, on-campus or online meetings, the harder it will be to re-build our ministry. 2) It is important to make sure that our members and guests are able to come back to a safe, clean and healthy environment. 3) As we maintain or restart our ministry, we must ensure that it is biblically-based, ministry-focused and continues to connect new people to the Gospel and a small group of people that will teach and minister to them.

So, on Monday, August 10th and Tuesday August 11th, Louisiana Baptists will host our first ever, Digital ReGroup Conference. Not only will this be a timely message for those who lead the Sunday School and/or Small Group Ministry in their church, but ESPECIALLY for all those who lead a class or small group every week. We need to prepare these wonderful lay people who have the responsibility of making disciples through their class or small group for the New Normal.

We are asking you to commit to one hour. Below, you will see the schedule and the people who can help us understand the opportunities and challenges we face for the next few weeks and months. The webinar is free. All you have to do is register and watch. If you can’t participate in the live webcast, you can view it online. The recording will be available by Friday, August 14th on our website at www.LouisianaBaptists.org/ReGroup20Recap.

  • For Pastors/Staff/Key Ministry Leaders – Monday, August 10th from 6:00-7:00 PM
  • For All Adult Leaders – Monday, August 10th from 7:30–8:30 PM
  • For all Preschool/Children’s Leaders – Tuesday, August 11th from 6:00-7:00 PM
  • For all Student Leaders – Tuesday, August 11th from 7:30-8:30 PM

Mark these dates and times on your calendar and make every effort to join us live…you’ll be glad you did!  Stay tuned for more details!