Author Archives: Lane Corley
On Monday, I reported on Louisiana’s healthiest and fastest growing churches, per Dr. Bill Day’s definition of churches that have:
- 10% growth over a 5 year period.
- At least one baptism per year in that period.
- An attender to baptism ratio of 15:1.
Who are some of the churches on this list? Take a look:
(NOTE: If you think a church should be on one of these list and they are not – there were some with high % growth, additions, and baptisms that did not make the 15:1 Attender to Baptism ratio cut. Also, there are 300 churches or so that do not turn in an Annual Church Profile annually).
Churches with the largest % growth between 2012 and 2016
- Life Point Community, Mansura, Pastor Jacob Crawford, grew by 317%, from 60 to 250.
- Ridge Memorial, Slidell, Pastor Paul Dabdoub, grew by 177%, from 26 to 72 regular attenders.
- Brushy Creek, Bancroft, Pastor Jerry L Hext, grew by 175%, from 20 to 55.
- The Church at Addis, Pastor Tom Shepard, grew by 161%, from 157 to 410.
- Christ’s Community Church, Denham Springs, Pastor Willis Easley, grew by 147%, from 273 to 675.
- Journey Church, Pineville, Pastor James Greer, grew by 138, from 356 to 849.
- Unity, Oak Grove, Pastor J. Kelly Coleman, grew by 112%, from 85 to 180.
- Calvary Spanish, Morgan City, Pastor Daniel Brown, grew by 91%, from 55 to 105.
- South Bossier, Bossier City, Pastor Chris Young, grew by 91%, from 140 to 267.
- First Baptist Church, Moss Bluff, Pastor Steve Bennett, grew by 81%, from 655 to 1,186.
Churches that Added the Most People between 2012 and 2016:
- Celebration Church, Metairie, Pastor Dennis Watson, added 2,750 attenders.
- First Baptist Church , Moss Bluff, Pastor Steve Bennett, added 531 attenders.
- Journey Church, Pineville, Pastor James Greer, added 493 attenders.
- Christ’s Community, Denham Springs, Pastor Willis Easley, added 402 attenders.
- East Leesville Baptist, Leesville, Pastor John Hebert, added 375 attenders.
- The Church at Addis, Pastor Tom Shepard, added 253 attenders.
- Cypress, Benton, Pastor John Fream, added 208 attenders.
- Life Point Community, Mansura, Pastor Jacob Crawford, added 190 attenders.
- First Baptist, Ruston, Pastor Chris Craig, added 189 attenders.
- South Bossier, Bossier City, Pastor Chris Young, added 127 attenders.
Baptisms by these churches between 2012 and 2016:
- Celebration Church, Metairie, Pastor Dennis Watson – 2,153
- Journey Church, Pineville, Pastor James Greer – 445
- Cypress Church, Benton, Pastor John Fream – 378
- His Church, Pineville, Pastor Steve Speer – 323
- First Baptist Ruston, Pastor Chris Craig – 310
- The Church at Addis, Pastor Tom Shepard – 285
- Christ’s Community, Denham Springs, Pastor Willis Easley – 281
- East Leesville, Leesville, Pastor John Hebert – 277
- Pine Ridge, Melder, Pastor Jason Townley – 276
- Life Point, Mansura, Pastor Jacob Crawford – 266
Recently I attended a seminar with Dr. Bill Day on evangelistic church growth. Dr. Day, defines a Healthy, 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.
His research shows that in 2015, only 5.4% of the 40,000+ Southern Baptist churches in North America were healthy and growing by this definition. And this number is in decline! In 2007, it was 7.1%. In 2010, it was 6.8%.
Louisiana’s Healthy and Growing Churches
I was curious about Louisiana churches in regard to Dr. Day’s formula, so I asked Shana Johnson, Leader our Louisiana Baptist Information Services Team for a little help. Here’s the report:
- 163 Louisiana Baptist churches, or 10%, grew by 10% growth between 2012 and 2016.
- Only 88 Louisiana Baptist churches, or 5.4%, were healthy and growing churches between 2012 and 2016; with 10% growth, 1 baptism per year, and a 15:1 attender to baptism ratio.
Below is some info on these churches. More on some of the individual churches in the list later. Apply this formula to your church and see where you stand.
Where are these churches?
- 40 are in south Louisiana, 48 are in north Louisiana.
- 7 in NELA, 22 in NWLA, 15 in Central LA, 14 in SWLA, 30 in SELA.
How old are these churches?
- 7 are less than 10 years old
- 14 are 11-25 years old
- 10 are 26-50 years old
- 27 are 50-100 years old
- 32 are 100+ years old
What’s the size of these churches?
- 5,000+ – 1
- 1,000-4,999 – 3
- 500-999 – 6
- 250-499 – 13
- 100-249 – 31
- 1-99 – 35
By Louisiana Baptist Association:
- Acadia – 3
- Greater Baton Rouge – 5
- Bayou – 4
- Beaureguard – 2
- Bienville – 1
- Big Creek – 1
- Carey – 1
- Concord Union – 4
- Deer Creek – 1
- Delta – 2
- Desoto – 1
- Eastern LA – 5
- Evangeline – 2
- Gulf Coast – 3
- LaSalle – 2
- Louisiana – 2
- Moorehouse – 1
- Natchitoches – 4
- New Orleans – 4
- North Central – 2
- North Rapides – 3
- North Sabine – 4
- Northeast – 1
- Northshore – 8
- Northwest – 8
- Ouachita – 1
- Richland – 3
- Sabine – 2
- Vernon – 1
- Webster – 4
- William Wallace – 1
Wrapping up the 3rd Quarter of the Year this weekend. 92 more days of 2017! Good time to assess ourselves spiritually. A good 4th quarter will probably make those January resolutions a little easier. Ha!
Our church strategizes around Five Catalyst for Spiritual Growth. They are also good tools for assessing our spiritual lives. These came out of a personal investigation of things I’ve heard Spiritual Giants Say. Pray or journal through these questions.
2. Personal Devotional Habits – Am I spending time being fed and filled by Jesus through His Word and prayer? Take an on ramp to this catalyst HERE.
3. Engaging in Ministry – Am I using my gifts with radical generosity or holding on to / burying what God has given me? Christianity and Church only make sense through the lens of service.
4. Building Catalytic Relationships – Am I involved in any relationships that encourage, challenge, and hold me accountable? Why Bother with Relationships?
5. Experiencing God’s Providential Care – Am I depending on God and graciously receiving help from others as I experience trials? Are my eyes open to how I can be the body of Christ to others experiencing hardships?
God desires for you to grow. Spiritual growth is not automatic. These catalysts reflect the tools we have for spiritual growth. Praying that this fall you will “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).
Living On Mission is a lifestyle, not just an event. I overheard two great stories recently that impressed this truth on me once again.
“I’ll not charge you the impound fee on your car if you go to church with me this Sunday.”
A Tow Truck Driver said this to a young man who was drug addicted and being arrested. That young man went to church and began a journey toward Christ that now, years later, has him planting a new church in Louisiana.
Thank God for On Mission Tow Truck Drivers!
“I’m not worried about the van. Just glad you are ok.”
A small church worked hard and bought a brand new van. A drunk driver ran off the road, hit and totaled the van. The Pastor of the church approached the young driver with forgiveness, concern, and prayer. That started that young man on a journey toward Christ that now, years later, has him planting a new church in Louisiana.
Thank God for On Mission small church Pastors!
Generosity, Forgiveness, Concern, Prayerfulness, Inviting. These should all be rhythms of life for the on mission Christian. Small acts of obedience in the moment, may seem insignificant, BUT KEEP WATCHING! Years from now, they may turn into somebody saying, “It all started when…”
“I was all the time tugging and carrying water. But now I have a river that carries me.”
“But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”
Jesus, John 4:14 NLT – http://bible.com/116/jhn.4.14.nlt
- Constantly feeling the tension of the ropes reminds us of our great need for his strength.
- Finding ourselves thirsty, reminds us to give up on anything that promises refreshment.
- Spring up, O well within. Carry me.
Got to know two of our incredible Louisiana Multisite Campus Pastors a little better at this year’s North Louisiana Multi-site Roundtable. Wade Burnett, with Multisite solutions interviewed Clay Fuqua and Chad Merrell as part of the event. Interesting enough, neither came from a ministry background. Love these stories of ministry trajectory:
Clay Fuqua started a successful restaurant >> went on an overseas mission trip and became passionate about evangelism >> began a mentoring relationship with his pastor Philip Robertson >> began teaching on Wednesday nights and bivocationally at other churches >> Now, he’s leading a very successful multisite campus of Philadelphia Baptist in Alexandria, LA.
Chad Merrell was raised in a pastors home, but committed himself to NOT go into ministry >> started a career in management in the chicken industry, which brought he and his family to Louisiana >> began attending First Baptist West Monroe >> began a relationship with the pastor and other key staff in the church >> began leading a Small Group >> began leading the churches Celebrate Recovery ministry >> Now, he’s leading a very successful multisite campus of First West in Sterlington, LA.
I love the trajectory of ministry engagement that these men took. Common denominators are mentoring type relationships with their pastors and faithful ministry service in their churches for years. Trust developed, faithfulness and obedience observed.
Wade Burnett says that 87% of Multisite Campus Pastors are hired from within the church. This trajectory will no doubt become more and more common. So, if you’re looking for leaders, look around. Who’s growing in their faithfulness, passion for ministry, and mutual trust. Equip and release!
I was able to teach a session on Trends in Church Technology at the 2017 Total Church Life Conference on August 19th in Baton Rouge. Here are notes from the session:
Why Technology Matters to churches?
- Systems Matter – technology provides us with great systems that run beneath the surface and save time, energy, and resources.
- Deliver the Gospel to more people, more regularly – technology can help us with our main mission of delivering the gospel to everyone in our communities and world.
- Relevance – The language of the next generation is found in technology and social media. When we allow them to engage their faith in that language, we serve them well.
“The technological revolution we’ve seen in churches over the past 30 years is staggering. What’s even more remarkable is the speed at which technology in the church continues to improve.” – Jonathan Howe (Read Jonathan’s great article on Church and Technology Trends HERE).
Technologies Every Church Can and Should Consider:
1. Digital Communication Options – Connecting your church through texting and social media is essential. Examples:
- Email services like Mailchimp allows your emails to have a wider reach.
- Facebook pages for publicity and closed groups for coordinating and inspiring leaders.
- Texting is the preferred way for many to receive communication these days. Check out Textinchurch.com or subscriber services like Remind.
2. Cloud Based Church Management Systems – The church directory is now in your hand. Cloud based means the management of the churches directory, giving, and even bookkeeping is no longer on one computer in the church office, but can be a collaborative tool throughout the leadership community. Check out this article from ChurchTechToday.com that compares the 20 Top Management Systems. Our church has used Church Office Online and now Planning Center for great functionality in volunteer management.
3. Digital Giving Options – Online giving and now text giving can increase your churches giving by 25%. Multiple ways to give are necessary to reach new generations of givers who don’t know what a checkbook is and carry little cash. Check out our churches letter 5 Ways to Give at Bridge Church that is sent out with Quarterly Contribution statement and imagine the possibilities. Most church management systems have digital giving connections or clients that they work with. I’ve also heard good things about Tithely. Here’s a good article sponsored by them about trends in giving today.
4. Computerized Child Check-In – Being on top of child safety makes you more relevant to today’s parents. It was once assumed that the church was a safe place for kids, but not anymore. Child safety is something every church must think about and plan for. Again, most church management systems have digital check in connections or clients that they work with. Here’s a good roundup of possibilities. I’ve also heard good things about Kid Check.
5. Online Leadership Training – Years ago I heard that there were three reasons that people don’t volunteer at your church or why volunteers quit: 1) I don’t have time. 2) I didn’t feel appreciated. 3) I don’t know how. Today, instead of calling another meeting, leadership training is a few clicks away through services like MinistryGrid.com, Trainedup.org, and Rightnow Media. You can still direct and lead people’s training experience through selecting the right videos and clips for your church or making your own training videos and posting them on the above mentioned sites.
6. Live Streaming – Lights, Camera, Outreach! Live streaming can help people who travel out of town stay in touch with your church, as well as spread the message to more people in the community. No need for expensive equipment anymore. You can even live stream from an Ipad or Iphone. Using free streaming services like Facebook Live, Periscope, or pay for services like Live Stream or U-Stream. Here’s a good Beginner’s Guide to Streaming.
7. Video Announcements – Control announcement times and make them memorable and relevant to new generations, as well as make them longer lasting throughout the week as they are shared via social media, web, and email. All you need is a iphone or other camera, creative people, and editing software. Our church plant early on even created an Announcement character that helped capture attention. Check out one of E-Van, the announcement specialists videos. Imagine the possibilities. There is also whispers of services that will offer this to churches in the future.
See Jonathan Howe’s article for other future trends. Follow ChurchTechToday.com for other new technology developments helpful to the mission of the Church. Let me know if you’ve got something else up your sleeve in this regard.
The number one answer to the question, “What is the current greatest challenge in your life and ministry?” on our Louisiana church planting growth reports is some version of Time Management. Everyone seems to struggle with time these days, but church planters deal with the added pressures of usually a second or third job, young children at home, clock ticking on outside funding, little to no administrative assistance, continuing education demands, etc., etc. A few thoughts from my failures of time management as a church planter and small church leader:
1. Learn the discipline of turning it off and going home.
The last two church plants I’ve been a part of, centered ministry around our home. The church office, the church phone, the church leadership meetings, the church supplies were all based at my address for the first 12-18 months. This made it extremely hard for me to ever turn off work. Coupled with the fact that it is never all done in ministry. Two ideas I had to get used to: 1) I will not get it all done everyday. 2) To be effective tomorrow, I need to turn it off and do something else today. The quicker you’re OK with these two ideas, the better off you and your family will be.
2. Develop a weekly schedule and stick to it.
Young pastors and church planters get in trouble with time management issues many times because we fail to create the accountability of a weekly rhythm and schedule. THIS STRUGGLE IS REAL!!! A friend of mine in ministry likes to say, “Winging it is not a good strategy.” But many of us wing it when it comes to our weekly rhythms. Your schedule should have flexibility in it because much great ministry happens in the interruptions and spontaneous opportunities, but creating a basic framework for time spent is a necessity. If you start this early, as you add staff and expectations of a growing congregation, you will be better prepared to say no and yes to added responsibilities and interruptions. It will also be beneficial for staff and congregation to know when they can expect to find an open door to your office and when they can call you without interrupting something important. A schedule will also help you make sure you are balancing your time with planting / pastoring priorities – i.e. Evangelism, Discipleship, Leadership Development, Community Engagement, etc.
3. Develop a system for To Do’s, Daily Scheduling, and Keeping up with Contacts.
Whether its Outlook, iCal, Google Cal, Google Docs, an old school Planner system, develop some tools that you can use in keeping the to do’s, appointments, and contacts handy at all times. And the technology out there is amazing in regards to personal productivity. Develop something that works for you and utilize it.
I’ve started accounts with so many different task management and scheduling services online that I’ve lost count. I finally developed my own tool that I print out and fill out each morning or the night before and return to throughout the day. Check it out HERE.
It’s to do’s, appointments on one page. On the back I list contacts throughout the day, with the goal of 20 contacts everyday, which is important to my work and a challenge for my introverted self. This helps me stay organized and focused and goal oriented throughout the day. (An editable Google Doc is HERE. Or Download a Word Doc Here – To Do_s – Editable – to create your own).
What do you use to keep organized and focused? What works well for you in time management? What tips and lessons learned can you share?
Next week I’ll share some lessons learned on managing preaching as a bivocational planter.
We’re hearing a lot about FOMO these days or Fear Of Missing Out. Evidently Social Media is leading us to be consumed with what others are doing, instead of what we are doing. Studies show that up to 75% of young adults experience this. Oxford has even added this acronym to its English dictionary. Definition:
Anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on social media.
Evangelical Christians of old suffered from another form of this, but it actually has added benefit to your life and the life of others. Try FOOMO. Fear Of OTHERS Missing Out. Specifically, the fear of others missing out on the promises of God in Christ.
“I could almost wish to be cursed and cut off from the Messiah for the benefit of my brothers, my own flesh and blood.” Romans 9:3
“because we know the fear of the Lord, we seek to persuade people.” 2 Corinthians 5:11
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or empty pride, but in humility consider others more important than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4
“We proclaim Him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, striving with all His energy working powerfully within me.” Colossians 1:28-2
What if we were consumed with the fear that friends, relatives, associates, neighbors were separated from God and it was up to us to help them bridge that gap. This is the anxiety that leads to obedience to God’s commission for our lives and the salvation and spiritual maturity of others.
Experts say FOMO is driven by what we give attention to. Giving too much attention to social media = mis-allocating attention. Let’s try giving more attention to the needs of others and especially their need to connect with Christ this week.
Turn off Social Media and get started by doing one of these this week:
- Invite a friend to church this weekend.
- Get to know a new neighbor.
- Spend focused time in prayer for your Friends, Relatives, Associates Neighbors to know God.
- Volunteer at local schools or neighborhood centers.
- Start a Bible Study or book club in your home and invite those who are far from God.
- Share your faith journey with someone over coffee or lunch.
- Give away a copy of the Bible or a book that’s helped you grow.
- Look for a project that you and your family could do to bless someone to need.
- Don’t go alone. Invite someone along that might could use a listening ear or time away from their routine today.
He was born 8 days after the very first service of our first church plant in South Louisiana, which started in an un-air conditioned fire station.
- Because his dad’s a church planter, until he was four we would drive past a fire station and he would yell “church” and when we drove by a steepled church building he would yell “space ship.”
- Because his dad’s a church planter, the first time we attended a church besides ours on Sunday, he asked where their fire truck was and why their chairs were so long (pews).
- Because his dad’s a church planter, he likes to hang out in coffee shops and has great bedside manner in hospitals.
- Because his dad’s a church planter, he doesn’t have as much as many kids in our area, but never complains.
- Because his dad’s a church planter, he doesn’t know that you shouldn’t wear shorts to church or that you shouldn’t be close friends with people of another race or class.
- Because his dad’s a church planter, he knows who Rick Warren & John Piper are, & asked every Friday morning, “Do we have a Block Party this weekend?”
- Because his dad’s a church planter, he doesn’t know what it means to be a part of a mega youth group or ride on a bus to camp.
- Because his dad’s a church planter, he knows his way around Pro Presenter and online kids curriculum.
- Because his dad’s a church planter, he’s handled a lot of pressure to be the good kid, pray out loud, help with the nursery, etc., etc.
Proud of Jack. Grateful for his friendship and partnership in this ministry. It’s not always easy to be a church planters kid. Praying for Jack and all our church planting kids out there.