Louisiana’s Healthy AND Growing Churches – 2018

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.

You can see my reports on Healthy and Growing Churches in Louisiana in 2016 Here and Here. And 2017, Here.

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:

  1. United Outreach, Shreveport – grew by 68% from 90 to 280, baptizing 126 between 2014 and 2018.
  2. Heflin, Heflin – grew by 67% from 100 to 300, baptizing 56.
  3. Gandy, Florien – grew by 53% from 53 to 70, baptizing 79.
  4. Unity, Cotton Valley – grew by 49% from 57 to 112, baptizing 138.
  5. Christ’s Community, Denham Springs – grew by 44% from 423 to 750, baptizing 417.
  6. Grawood, Keithville – grew by 44% from 192 to 340, baptizing 98.
  7. Fellowship on Airline, Gonzales – grew by 44% from 95 to 170, baptizing 28.
  8. Midway, Ponchatoula – grew by 44% from 20 to 36, baptizing 18.
  9. Bethany, Bethany – grew by 41% from 62 to 112, baptizing 89.
  10. Newton, Delhi – grew by 41% from 50 to 85, baptizing 98.
  11. Trinity, Hammond – grew by 40% from 90 to 150, baptizing 26.
  12. Bethel, West Monroe – grew by 40% from 45 to 75, baptizing 25.
  13. Old Zion Hill, Independence – grew by 39% from 200 to 330, baptizing 97.
  14. First, Castor – grew by 39% from 55 to 90, baptizing 23.
  15. Memorial, Monroe – grew by 38% from 40 to 65, baptizing 29.
  16. First, Pine Prairie – grew by 35% from 163 to 250, baptizing 37.
  17. Oak Forest, Leesville – grew by 34% from 56 to 85, baptizing 52.
  18. Lighthouse, Shreveport – grew by 33% from 40 to 60, baptizing 40.
  19. First, Robeline – grew by 33% from 170 to 255, baptizing 227.
  20. Celebration Church, Metairie – grew by 32% from 5,233 to 7,656, baptizing 2,764.
  21. Bethsadia, Many – grew by 30% from 35 to 50, baptizing 57.
  22. Unity, Oak Grove – grew by 29% from 100 to 154, baptizing 193.
  23. Open Door Fellowship, Coushatta – grew by 28% from 90 to 125, baptizing 73.
  24. Mangham, Mangham – grew by 27% from 110 to 150, baptizing 35.
  25. First, Holden – grew by 27% from 62 to 85, baptizing 33.

Churches that Added the Most People between 2014 and 2018:

  1. Celebration Church, Metairie, added 2,423 people.
  2. Christ’s Community, Denham Springs, 327 people.
  3. Heflin, Heflin, added 200 people.
  4. United Outreach, Shreveport, added 190 people.
  5. Grawood, Keithville, added 148 people.
  6. Old Zion Hill, Independence, added 130 people.
  7. Addis, First, added 127 people.
  8. His Church, Pineville, added 126 people.
  9. First, Pine Prairie, added 85 people.
  10. First, Robeline, added 75 people.

Top 10 Baptisms by these churches from 2014 to 2018:

  1. Celebration Church (SBC), Metairie – 2764
  2. First, Haughton – 425
  3. Christ’s Community, Denham Springs – 417
  4. Philadelphia, Deville – 370
  5. His Church, Pineville – 311
  6. Addis, First – 277
  7. First, Robeline – 227
  8. Unity, Oak Grove – 193
  9. Trinity, Many – 149
  10. 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 – lane.corley@louisianabaptists.org.

Getting Healthy Again

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.

479A3D89-47E9-47EF-BF70-9783CA7DA57F

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.

 

Rural Ministry Today

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:

  1. There is a growing shortage of pastors. There are associations in our state with 20-25% of their churches without pastors.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

The Mobilization Flywheel

FlywheelI 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. 

Gospel Attitudes

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.

How would Luke (author of Acts) describe the church today?

“They devoted themselves to vision clarity, organizational alignment, clarity of vision, great preaching, monster outreach events, massive marketing campaigns, world class children’s ministry, the best music in town, leadership development, new sites, and the latest growth strategy to break the next growth barrier. Some of the believers came together weekly for an excellent Sunday morning show; others opted for overbooked schedules of travel sports and long work hours to pay increasing debt, leaving no margin for living in common. With divorce, addiction, and crime rates similar to society at large, outsiders mocked the church, wondering why they should be part of something so judgmental, hypocritical, and irrelevant. Rather than praising God for the abundance of blessing and being the fullness of Christ in everything and in every way, church members spent their time praying for deliverance from the same crazy, empty lives as their outsider friends. When numbers were not added daily, they looked for the next silver bullet to catalyze growth and make the church more relevant. They desperately sought to do church without being the church.” 

Instead, let’s try… Acts 2:42-47

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Sounds a lot simpler and a lot more fun. Proved to be fairly effective at changing the world as well. Which one are you and your church pursuing?

via Todd Wilson in his excellent book called More: Find Your Personal Calling and Live Life to Your Fullest Measure.

Multiplication Eligible

Eligibility is a term we here in sports a lot. We want our teams to be Bowl eligible, playoff eligible. We get excited when the college star become draft eligible. Runners work to be eligible for the Boston Marathon, or other races. I’m encouraging my kids to get college eligible by working hard on their grades and ACT score.

Eligibility = readiness. It demonstrates that you are ready for the next step in maturity and growth or the next challenge. For churches, a great challenge is to get Multiplication Eligible. To be healthy enough for the challenges of multiplying new groups, new ministries, new locations, new churches. What does that look like?

  1. A Passion for God and the Lost.
  2. Healthy systems (evangelism, groups, gatherings, assimilation, mobilization, stewardship) that are producing new and growing disciples.
  3. Unity of purpose and mission.
  4. Eyes open to the needs of the world.
  5. Leader(s) that can be sent to lead the mission at the new location.

What do you need to work on in order to be Multiplication Eligible?

When Criticism Comes… Part 2

Every leader deals with criticism. It often comes at the wrong time, in the wrong way, from the wrong person, for the wrong reason (see Part 1). David gives us a Biblical pattern for handling criticism in the ancient story of his feud with his son Absalom. A man named Shimei took the opportunity of David’s misfortune to heap abuse upon him in a public way. What David did, I pray that I can do as well, WHEN, not if, criticism comes my way.

When Criticism comes, exercise SELF CONTROL (2 Samuel 16:9-10).

When Shimei criticized David, his friend Abishai was ready with a solution, “Let me go over and remove his head!” 2 Samuel 16:9. David dismissed this rash recommendation and demonstrated self-control instead. Abishai’s solution may have been within his power and maybe even his right, but it would have been sinful before God and would have added more guilt and emotional baggage to his heavy burden. That’s always what rash reactions that lack self-control will produce. Self-control always trumps retaliation and hostility. Proverbs 16:32 says, “Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city.”

When Criticism comes, think deeply about the SOURCE and SUBSTANCE (2 Samuel 16:10).

David did not automatically demonize Shimei, but considered that God might be using him in some way. He ask in a sense, “Was God trying to tell me something through this hostile Benjamite?” In listening to critics, we must take time and in wisdom consider any truth in the message so that we can learn and grow and adjust in our leadership. Doing this toward a harsh critic will demonstrate our patience and desire for growth to everyone around us.

When Criticism comes, do not get DISTRACTED from your purpose (2 Samuel 16:11).

David’s primary concern was not Shimei, but Absalom. In verse 11, he reminds his men of the real danger, “My son… is trying to take my life…!” David’s main objective was to get himself and his company to safety. He did not allow this criticism to distract him in this moment.

Criticism has the power to knock us off course. The best defense system against criticisms distracting power is a sure sense of God’s calling and confidence of your place in His mission.

When Criticism comes, trust God to bring good out of the situation (2 Samuel 16:12).

David demonstrated that his trust was in God to hear and respond by bringing good out of the hostility of Shimei and Absalom. He did not assume it to be so, but he hoped in God’s goodness. This hope gave him the strength and desire to ignore the criticism and carry on with his mission.

Whether it be a hostile critic, the darkness of a sick loved one, the death of a family member, or an unfulfilled dream; we can know that God is always there and that he will at some point, in this life or the next, bring good out of the cursing.

Jesus himself exemplified this kind of self-control and trust in God as he faced a hostile crowd that hurled more than just words at him. 1 Peter 2:23 – “when he was insulted, he did not insult in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten but entrusted himself to the one who judges justly.” 

Criticism is part of leadership. Our response can make it a foe that creates greater conflict, distracts us, keeps us discouraged; or a friend that makes us stronger, more dependent on God, and an example of Christ-likeness to the world.

The Power of Words

“You’ll probably end up in jail one day!”

For four years, I taught classes in our local jail. I ask every class, approximately 75 men at a time, how many heard the above statement as a child. Every time 33%+ raise their hands. Unscientific. But if we could have added positive words of affirmation and/or Gospel centeredness to these lives, would things have gone differently before now. Can’t help but ask that.

  • “I’m proud of you!”
  • “God’s going to use you!”
  • “I love you!”
  • “You’re doing great!”
  • “You’re not alone.”
  • “Jesus, loves you!”
  • “I’m praying for you.”

These are words that shaped my mind and heart as a boy and I still love to hear them today. Trying to say them as many times as I can to my boys at home and to friends who are experiencing life’s ups and downs.

I also remember other words as well. In the 4th grade I tried out for basketball and didn’t make the team. I still remember the smell in the room, the sounds around me, and everything about that moment when the coach said, “YOU’RE NOT GOOD ENOUGH THIS YEAR!” She was right. And it inspired me to start practicing and better my game before try outs the next year. But HARSH and CARING words can both stick with us and shape our futures.

Proverbs 21:18 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue…”

What words have shaped you? Are you passing them on to others? Are you passing on death or life to those around you with your words?

It’s Small Group Life, not Just Small Group Meetings

  • Small Group life is better than small group meetings.
  • Doing life together is better than eating together.
  • Growing Spiritually together is better than studying the lesson together.
  • All of life discipleship is better than a Sunday morning Bible Study.

Most of the small group questions I hear about what happens DURING THE MEETING. “What are you studying?” “When do you meet?” “Who’s the teacher?” Necessary but not primary elements.

The real gold for small groups is in life together. I’ve walked with a few small groups for 5+ years. These people are like family. We experience each others lives through the ordinary and difficult moments. We can see life change happening over time and think about how far people have come over years. More than just getting through a lesson or a study, it’s journeying through all of life. Gatherings are simply opportunities to catch up, be encouraged, grow deeper in relationship with God and each other, and apply the scripture to our lives specifically and directly. Life together also allows you to serve one another in special ways as life happens. Seeing and experiencing Jesus in the life of another happens as we walk this worlds ups and down with one another. Love, joy, peace, patience, compassion, kindness, forgiveness, carrying burdens. All of these happen best in family like relationships that small group life provide.

Grateful for my Small Group. Can’t wait to gather together again this week!

Mine the gold of life together by focusing on group life and not just a group meeting. 

FamilyGroup2

%d bloggers like this: