Anonymous questions sent in by the wives of pastors reveals the depth of pain, loneliness, and uncertainty that they often endure. At our recent Louisiana Ministers Wives Retreat, a panel sought to answer these and other anonymous questions. The name of the Session was “The Joy, the Questions, and the Tears”:
- How do I continue to show love to people who openly disrespect and criticize my husband?
- How do I deal with the anxiety of always worrying about what my husband may say, not say, do or not do?
- How do I address the many different opinions of what is expected of me as a pastors wife?
- How do I know who might be a “safe” friend for me in my church?
- What can I do to find peace as a pastor’s wife?
- How do I live with my church’s expectations of my children?
- How do I address my troubled / rebellious child’s issues with my high expectation church?
Pastors wives are often stand between the flawed, struggling person that is her husband and the flawed, sheep like people that he desperately wants to lead well. She sees his desperation and wants to help him. She sees their demands and wants to protect him. She wants them to know how special he is. She wants to be herself and feel safe among friends as her husband grows, her children struggle, her pain needs an outlet, and the lost need her savior. I’m grateful for my wife who has walked this narrow road with me. She give me great strength in the vulnerable moments of this dangerous calling. Praying for other Minister’s Wives as they walk this narrow path with the God-called men in their lives.
Louisiana has 304 Census Designated Areas, noted as cities, towns, and villages by the Census Bureau. A few years ago, out of curiosity, I did a little digging into how many of these might not have a Southern Baptist Church. I knew of a few, but didn’t expect that number to total almost 100! Now, if you’ve ever looked at this list, you won’t recognize many of these places unless you are from there. A few even have a population of less than 10! The Missions and Ministry Team has sought to keep this list updated and add it to the numerous things that play into good church planting strategy and missiology for Louisiana.
Not all of these places necessarily need a new church. Some of these towns have active churches near them. It’s not the objective of the Louisiana Baptist Mission and Ministry Team to start churches, just to say we did. If it’s a strategic need and if God calls his people to go; we will assist in starting a church in these geographic locations.
Not all of these places are without evangelical witnesses. We are not saying that all of these places are without the witness of an evangelical congregation. We celebrate the work of evangelical partners who are seeking to reach our state and we’re happy when we find that a community has an active witness of the Gospel in its midst. When we find that little to no active gospel witness is present, the priority rises.
Not all the places in Louisiana that have a church are saturated with the Gospel. A more shocking statistic than the number of communities without a Southern Baptist Church is the low percentage of people that attend the Southern Baptist Churches that are already in existence. Most parishes across Louisiana, have less than 10% of the population attending SBC churches on any given weekend. Many areas, even across the south, have too few churches to reach even 30% of its population with the gospel.
Louisiana’s need for new churches in no way compares with the need in other parts of North America. The fact that Louisiana has towns with no SBC churches has challenged me to remember pioneer areas across North America and the world with zero access to a gospel advancing community of believers. As a missionary friend says, “As you go to the church of your choice this weekend, remember those with no church to choose.” Let the reality of Louisiana’s need, remind us of the unfinished task before us in carrying out Christ’s Great Commission.
How can we respond to places with no church?
- Pray! Pray for laborers (Luke 10:2). Pray for open doors (1 Corinthians 16:9).
- Take a vision tour. In 2020, our team will be conducting one day Vision Tours and Windshield Surveys in many of these towns with no SBC Church. Email me at email@example.com and let me know if you’d like to help with these tours.
- Adopt a town to pray for and plan to reach out through a day of prayer walking or other outreach event. Let us know if you’d be interested in reaching out in a city or town without a church.
Where are these towns? Here’s a list of the top 50, listed by CDA / Town / City or Village, Parish, Association, and Population. Check out our Engage Map for and interactive look at locations of Louisiana Baptist churches, church plants, and target locations for new churches – https://www.engagemap.org/louisianabaptists/EngageMap.
- Terrytown – Jefferson – NOBA – 24,216
- Bayou Cane – Terrebonne – Bayou – 21,173
- Estelle – Jefferson – NOBA – 16,791
- Gardere – East Baton Rouge – BAGBR – 11,229
- Woodmere – Jefferson – NOBA – 11,114
- Timberlane – Jefferson – NOBA – 10,655
- South Fort Polk – Vernon – Vernon – 9,293
- Oak Hills – East Baton Rouge – BAGBR – 8,980
- Old Jefferson – East Baton Rouge – BAGBR – 8,283
- Galliano – Lafourche – Bayou – 7,650
- Eden Isle St. Tammany NSBA 7,631
- St. Gabriel Iberville BAGBR 7,094
- Meraux St. Bernard NOBA 7,073
- Village St. George East Baton Rouge BAGBR 6,802
- Inniswold East Baton Rouge BAGBR 6,772
- Vacherie St. James BAGBR 5,689
- Chackbay Lafourche Bayou 5,647
- Grambling Lincoln Concord Union 5,184
- Elmwood Jefferson NOBA 5,037
- Eastwood Bossier NWLA 4,547
- Richwood Oauchita NELA 3,378
- Buras-Triumph Plaquemines NOBA 3,358
- Lutcher St. James BAGBR 3,345
- Brusly West Baton Rouge BAGBR 2,721
- Chauvin Terrebonne Bayou 2,682
- Abita Springs St. Tammany Northshore 2,584
- Bayou Gauche St. Charles NOBA 2,557
- North Fort Polk Vernon Vernon 2,432
- Edgard St. John the Baptist NOBA 2,315
- Rosepine Vernon Vernon 2,235
- Garyville St. John the Baptist NOBA 2,225
- Boothville-Venice Plaquemines NOBA 2,220
- Montz St. Charles NOBA 2,140
- Labadieville Assumption Bayou 2,092
- Henderson St. Martin Evangeline 1,885
- Belle Rose Assumption Bayou 1,837
- Paradis St. Charles NOBA 1,616
- Ama St. Charles NOBA 1,361
- New Sarpy St. Charles NOBA 1,203
- Cullen Webster Webster-Claiborne 1,133
- Paincourtville Assumption Bayou 1,070
- Empire Plaquemines NOBA 1,054
- Leonville St. Landry Acadia 1,042
- Rosedale village Iberville BAGBR 983
- Grand Coteau St. Landry Acadia 964
- Supreme Assumption Bayou 859
- Parks village St. Martin Evangeline 831
- Mermentau village Acadia Acadia 815
- Killona St. Charles NOBA 815
- Convent St. James BAGBR 711
“Don’t you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize.” 1 Corinthians 9:24
A common refrain in sports and in leadership is “playing not to lose.” This describes a team that is hoping to run out the clock in a cautious, unstrategic manner. You can often recognize the timidity and the lack of belief in the ability to win. I must admit, that I have fallen prey to this so many times in my leadership. Instead of aggressive, wholehearted action; passivity, avoidance, doubt, fear sets in and victory is hard to imagine. Here are some other comparisons.
Running Not to Lose vs. Running to Win
Which list describes your current leadership?
The big question that determines whether I’m running to win, is often, “DO I BELIEVE I CAN WIN?” As believers, this takes us back, not to what we believe about ourselves, but what do we believe about God and His promises? That’s what Paul, in 1 Corinthians 9:23-25, was focused on. His focus was not on himself, but on the life-changing gospel (vs. 23), and the eternal reward promised by God to those who run to win (vs. 25).
- What areas do I need to pick up the pace in?
- What am I avoiding?
- Where do I appear fearful?
- What does my distraction say about my current mission focus and drive?
- What have I given up on?
Louisiana Native and founder of FinCon, Philip Taylor shares some good ideas for Bivo / Covo Planters / Pastors on how to make extra money. Over 50% of Louisiana planters in the last 5 years have been Bivo. What are some ways you make ends meet as a minister?
My favorite ideas from Phil’s list are:
- Census Worker
- Give tours of your city through Vayable.com
Some of the Bivo roles I know our planters have served in:
- City Management
- Hospital Administration
- Hospital Maintenance
- Rocket Science
- Uber / Lyft Driver
- School Administration
- Pest Control
- IT Professional
- Insurance Sales
- 2nd Church Job
- Denominational/Associational Roles
Know of others? What are some other good Bivo jobs?
One of the healthy habits I’m enjoying right now is running. I’m working on a half-marathon training place with the Active 13.1 App. Hoping to be in shape for the Jazz Half Marathon in New Orleans on October 26th! We’ll see… Lol!
I’ve come across some great verses in the Bible on running this year that I’ve tried to memorize and meditate on over the last few months. These verses have great meaning for every aspect of our lives, along with when you’re on the trail. The next few weeks I’ll share some thoughts on these verses for life and running.
1. Run to Win – 1 Corinthians 9:24 – Don’t you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize.
2. Run with Power – Isaiah 40:31 – those who trust in the LORD will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not become weary, they will walk and not faint.
3. Run the Path – Psalm 119:32 – I run in the path of your commands, for you have broadened my understanding.
4. Run with Perseverance – Hebrews 12:1 – let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us.
Dr. Bill Day, Church Growth and Evangelism Professor at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, defines a Healthy and Growing Church as a church that has had:
- 10% growth over a 5 year period.
- At least one baptism per year in that period.
- An attender to baptism ratio of 15:1.
I like this formula, because it helps us see that not every church that is a healthy church is a growing church. And not every church that is growing, grows by evangelistic growth. This formula cuts through the pack to get to the healthy, evangelistic, growing churches. It is also a formula that includes smaller membership churches that often get left out of the lists that are only based on the biggest numbers.
2018 Data is in, and we’re currently collecting the Annual Church Profiles for 2019. Here’s a look at Healthy and Growing Churches among Louisiana Baptists in 2018:
- 150 Louisiana Baptist churches, or 9%, grew by 10% growth between 2014 and 2018. That’s down from 161 in 2017 and 163 in 2016.
- Only 60 Louisiana Baptist churches, or 4%, were healthy AND growing churches between 2014 and 2018; with 10% growth, 1 baptism per year, and a 15:1 attender to baptism ratio.
Where are these churches?
- 19 are in south Louisiana, 41 are in north Louisiana.
- 24 along I-20, 17 in Central LA, 5 in SWLA, 9 on the I-12, 1 in New Orleans, 4 in Baton Rouge.
How old are these churches?
- 3 are less than 10 years old
- 3 are 11-25 years old
- 8 are 26-50 years old
- 20 are 50-100 years old
- 26 are 100+ years old
What’s the size of these churches?
- 5,000+ – 1
- 1,000-4,999 – 0
- 500-999 – 4
- 250-499 – 11
- 100-249 – 23
- 1-99 – 21
Who are these Churches?
Top 25 Churches with the largest % growth between 2014 and 2018:
- United Outreach, Shreveport – grew by 68% from 90 to 280, baptizing 126 between 2014 and 2018.
- Heflin, Heflin – grew by 67% from 100 to 300, baptizing 56.
- Gandy, Florien – grew by 53% from 53 to 70, baptizing 79.
- Unity, Cotton Valley – grew by 49% from 57 to 112, baptizing 138.
- Christ’s Community, Denham Springs – grew by 44% from 423 to 750, baptizing 417.
- Grawood, Keithville – grew by 44% from 192 to 340, baptizing 98.
- Fellowship on Airline, Gonzales – grew by 44% from 95 to 170, baptizing 28.
- Midway, Ponchatoula – grew by 44% from 20 to 36, baptizing 18.
- Bethany, Bethany – grew by 41% from 62 to 112, baptizing 89.
- Newton, Delhi – grew by 41% from 50 to 85, baptizing 98.
- Trinity, Hammond – grew by 40% from 90 to 150, baptizing 26.
- Bethel, West Monroe – grew by 40% from 45 to 75, baptizing 25.
- Old Zion Hill, Independence – grew by 39% from 200 to 330, baptizing 97.
- First, Castor – grew by 39% from 55 to 90, baptizing 23.
- Memorial, Monroe – grew by 38% from 40 to 65, baptizing 29.
- First, Pine Prairie – grew by 35% from 163 to 250, baptizing 37.
- Oak Forest, Leesville – grew by 34% from 56 to 85, baptizing 52.
- Lighthouse, Shreveport – grew by 33% from 40 to 60, baptizing 40.
- First, Robeline – grew by 33% from 170 to 255, baptizing 227.
- Celebration Church, Metairie – grew by 32% from 5,233 to 7,656, baptizing 2,764.
- Bethsadia, Many – grew by 30% from 35 to 50, baptizing 57.
- Unity, Oak Grove – grew by 29% from 100 to 154, baptizing 193.
- Open Door Fellowship, Coushatta – grew by 28% from 90 to 125, baptizing 73.
- Mangham, Mangham – grew by 27% from 110 to 150, baptizing 35.
- First, Holden – grew by 27% from 62 to 85, baptizing 33.
Churches that Added the Most People between 2014 and 2018:
- Celebration Church, Metairie, added 2,423 people.
- Christ’s Community, Denham Springs, 327 people.
- Heflin, Heflin, added 200 people.
- United Outreach, Shreveport, added 190 people.
- Grawood, Keithville, added 148 people.
- Old Zion Hill, Independence, added 130 people.
- Addis, First, added 127 people.
- His Church, Pineville, added 126 people.
- First, Pine Prairie, added 85 people.
- First, Robeline, added 75 people.
Top 10 Baptisms by these churches from 2014 to 2018:
- Celebration Church (SBC), Metairie – 2764
- First, Haughton – 425
- Christ’s Community, Denham Springs – 417
- Philadelphia, Deville – 370
- His Church, Pineville – 311
- Addis, First – 277
- First, Robeline – 227
- Unity, Oak Grove – 193
- Trinity, Many – 149
- Unity, Cotton Valley – 138
Do you think your church should be on the list? Remember the criteria:
- Does your church have 5 years of history?
- What is the ratio of attendance to baptism? Must be 15:1.
- Did your church turn in an Annual Church Profile all of the 5 years?
- Did your church baptize at least 1 person each year?
- Did your church grow by 10% over the 5 year period?
Email me for a copy of the full report and list of churches on this list, along with all the churches that grew by 10% over the last five years in Louisiana – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last November, I decided it was time to get healthy again. I was heavy, tired, stressed, near burn out. I was coming out of one of life’s rough patches and made the decision to come out stronger. Since then, I’ve lost 30 pounds, I’ve drastically improved my cardio fitness, I’ve established 5 to 6 days per week of intense exercise, and I’ve memorized over 800 Bible verses (health is much more than physical. It’s spiritual first).
A few habits and tools I’ve added to make progress with my health;
- Intermittent Fasting. For six months, I utilized the 16:8 Fasting Plan. The plan is to do all your eating within an 8 hour period and fast for the other 16. This helped me get out of the habit of snacking, which pours on the pounds and get my calorie intake under control. I utilized the Life App for tracking.
- High Intensity Interval Training. I joined a HIIT class at my gym called Zone 30. It’s a heart rate monitored class that last for 30 minutes and utilizes dozens of exercises to get your heart rate up and work lots of muscle groups. Every class burns 400+ calories. Feels great! It’s always something different, so you never get bored. Seems like a lot of gyms have a HIIT option. There’s also Crossfit and other intense exercise based gyms and programs. And there are a lot of Apps that give you HIIT workouts to do at home.
- Running 15-20 miles per week. I utilized the Couch to 10k plan to get ready for the Crescent City Classic 10k, then jumped to the Half Marathon Trainer. I’m now running 4 days per week and looking forward to my first Half Marathon in years this October.
- Setting some goals – weight loss goal of 25 lbs. Also, put a few races on the calendar, including the Crescent City Classic 10k first, then the Tarpon Triathlon on August 3rd, and the Jazz Half Marathon coming up in October.
- Daily Scripture Memory. I typically follow a Read the Bible in a Year plan, and spend 20-30 minutes reading and journaling through the scriptures daily. This year, I’ve upped the intensity of my devotional life with Scripture Memory. I gave myself the challenge of memorizing every Verse of the Day from the Bible App or Youversion.com in 2019, utilizing the Bible Memory App. We saturate our minds with so much junk. I wanted to get intentional with what I saturate my mind with. The Bible Memory App helps me memorize, then review verses to mastery. I review about 30 verses a day, mostly just in the spare moments of waiting. Get some ideas on how to get started with the Bible Memory App here.
- Get rid of some things. I also turned off Social Media notifications, deleted Facebook and Twitter Apps, and replaced much of the time spent on those diminishing influences with exercise and Scripture Memory.
Where did I find the time? It wasn’t that hard, after turning off some non-beneficial habits. Thankful for the opportunity and the grace from God to get healthy again.
A few books and resources that have helped and inspired me on this recent journey:
- David Goggins’ book Can’t Hurt Me.
- Rich Roll’s book Finding Ultra: Rejecting Middle Age, Becoming One of the World’s Fittest Men, and Discovering Myself
- Free to Focus by Michael Hyatt
- The E-Book Right-Side Up Leader: Choosing Health in the Age of Impact by Alan Briggs. “Health before impact!” was a great challenge from Alan and this book.
- Didn’t See It Coming: Overcoming the Seven Greatest Challenges That No One Expects and Everyone Experiences by Carey Nieuhof.
What tools, apps, books have been helpful for you in getting or staying healthy? Are you near burnt out? Overloaded? Message me and allow me to pray for you and assure you that things can change.
This year, our Louisiana Baptist Missions and Ministry Team held 10 weeks of Summer Network gatherings across Louisiana, and we tried to hit some of our more rural areas and associations. Though 75% of Louisiana is considered Urban by the Census Bureau. A few observations about ministry in Rural Louisiana in 2019:
- There is a growing shortage of pastors. There are associations in our state with 20-25% of their churches without pastors.
- There are more retirees entering the ministry. We met several amazing men who had retired from secular employment and are now pastoring churches! We also have several planting churches! How about ministry as an ENCORE career.
- Rural Pastors are finding innovative ways to meet the changing ministry environments they are in. Addiction, homelessness, poverty are major issues in rural areas, just as in urban areas, and on the minds of pastors. Churches are finding ways to address these. Encouraging.
- Rural Pastors are heroes. They do it without fanfare or abundant resources. I have been inspired by the enthusiasm of young and old pastors in rural areas this summer. Their church of 40 people may seem insignificant, but in a community with 600 people, they are a mega church!
- Relationships among churches and among pastors are lifelines for the stresses of ministry in rural areas. Associational coaching networks are forming. Pastors with education are mentoring pastors who did not have the opportunity. Encouraged by the kingdom mindset across our state.
- Smaller, rural churches have suffered from transfer growth as many older Christians choose to drive out of their community to a larger church in another town. Heard this observation several times from rural pastors this summer in relation to the struggle to find mature Christians to lead. There are seasoned Christians giving up on the small, local church.
- Rural communities are attractive to families and are growing in population and income level. From younger retirees to families that want more space and don’t mind a 45 minute to 1 hour commute daily, demographics are changing in many of our rural areas.
I am a product of rural churches. These churches gave me a great foundation of faith. Ministry looks differently, may move slower, but continues to be fruitful for life change and making disciples. Praying for our Rural pastors and churches.
I wore out a highlighter on an incredible 120 page book recently. It’s called The Mobilization Flywheel: Building a Culture of Biblical Mobilization by Larry Walkemeyer and Todd Wilson. You may recognize Todd’s name from the Exponential Conference. Mobilization is the 2019 Exponential theme. This book, along with companion resources, drives the point home of the needed shifts in today’s church. The big idea is that today’s church may just be holding people back from becoming all that God made them for. Do we see people as mere volunteers to prop up our ministries or as masterpieces, created by God for kingdom transformation?
The book focuses on three things – Missionaries, Gatherings, Church –
- every believer is a missionary,
- every church should be a mobilization station that sends its missionaries,
- every believer can play a role in gatherings that share the gospel,
- and many gatherings can become new churches led by everyday missionaries.
Simple, Biblical steps from Mobilization to Multiplication.
There’s even a great section on how denominations and networks can fuel mobilization and multiplication in the 21st century.
I’m ordering a box of these. Hope you’ll read it and get a passion for Mobilizing God’s Masterpieces for kingdom expansion. You can actually get a free E-book version HERE.
A few of my favorite quotes:
- The average church is always looking for more volunteers to do more church work. At the same time, the typical Christian is frequently seeking more purpose in their lives.
- The church trains volunteers to pass out bulletins, while Jesus trained his disciples to cast out demons.
- From start to finish the call of discipleship is to be sent, to live as sent ones, to live mobilized!
- The church has mostly lived a “Come and See” model while Jesus operated from a “Go and Be” model.
- Too often we see individuals as volunteers to fuel our programs and to serve our purposes rather than as everyday missionaries with everyday mission fields….
- Leaders must shift from a bias of “We can do it, you can help” to one of “You can do it; how can we help?”
- Most so-called revivals these days prioritize greater sensations for the saved, instead of greater sending of the saved.
- Biblical discipleship always majored on going. Disciples were sent to make other disciples. Increasing maturity was evidenced by increased spiritual activity by disciples among non-believers.
- Biblical disciples are individuals who have determined their most significant accomplishments in life will be making disciples who make disciples.
- Biblical churches are churches who have embraced an operating system that prioritizes and practices equipping and sending believers to be disciples who in turn make disciples in their unique mission fields.
- Is today’s church so pastor-centric that believers are motivated to climb upward in the church power structures instead of inspired to move outward into their mission fields?
- Jesus knew that twelve multiplying disciples was a bigger number than 12,000 miracle seekers.
- Jesus trained disciples to cast out demons, but we settle for training believers to pass out bulletins and wonder why the average Christian is bored.
- There is a vast difference between volunteers filling a space and ordinary missionaries reaching an un-reached place.
- We must shift our paradigm from recruiting volunteers to accomplish “our thing” to mobilizing everyday missionaries in their common and unique callings to accomplish “God’s thing.”
- As Christian leaders, our paramount resource is not our building, our bank account, our band, etc…. It is the people the master has trusted us with leading.
- Do I help believers dream about their “more” or try to limit their vision to inside our church’s ministry?
- Churches – prioritize helping members live into their calling outside the church more than inside the church …. Raising up everyday missionaries, not just volunteers for ministry …. Keep the church simple and mission-focused …. Not running programs but equipping members to reach and disciple people in their individual mission fields.
The Gospel is the news about God sending Jesus, who lived a perfect life, and took the sins of the world on himself and died in place of humanity, so that we could have a relationship with God, eternal life, and the power of God over sin and for mission. Believers are responsible for spreading this news. How should we think about the Gospel? The Apostle Paul gives us a good challenge in this regard in Romans 1:14-16:
I am obligated both to Greeks and barbarians, both to the wise and the foolish. So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…
Four Attitudes Believers Should Have About the Gospel:
1. I am Obligated (v. 14) – The NLT says, “I have a great sense of obligation to people.” This is just an attitude that says, I own my responsibility to share the Gospel with others. Do you feel a sense of ownership and obligation about witnessing?
2. I am Eager (v. 15) – I am looking for opportunities to share the Gospel and eager for those around me to know about Jesus Christ. Do you live with a sense of urgency and excitement about those around you knowing about the person and work of Jesus Christ?
3. I am Not Ashamed (v. 16) – This means, I am not shrinking back or feeling overly burdened about this responsibility. It speaks to the everyday, habitual sense about sharing the gospel. I’m confident about this mission to share with others.
4. The Gospel is the Power of God (v. 16) – The Power of the Gospel is not in my ability to share or in my persuasiveness. God’s power is promised in the telling of this old, old story. I’m not responsible for results, but for faithfulness in sharing.
The Gospel is POWERFUL, and should never be kept PRIVATE.