Category Archives: Church Planting
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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
Louisiana Baptists have planted 22 Churches so far in 2018.
- 6 in North Louisiana, 16 in South Louisiana
- 6 in New Orleans
- 13 non-Anglo. 8 African-American, 3 Hispanic, 1 Asian, 1 Multi-Ethnic
- 234 Churches Planted
- 56 in north Louisiana, 178 in south Louisiana
- 61 in New Orleans
- 128 non-Anglo. 70 African-American, 31 Hispanic, 10 Asian, 17 Other
Our goals have been to plant 300 churches by 2020; to plant more in south Louisiana where 70% of the population lives; at least 20% of plants in New Orleans where 20% of our population lives; and to plant more non-Anglo churches, increasing the diversity in Louisiana Baptist life.
- Since 2010, Church Plants have reported 13,208 Professions of Faith and 3,536 Baptisms. Church Planting continues to be one of the best ways to evangelize communities.
- Since 2010, churches have been planted in 100 of Louisiana’s 304 cities and towns and 41 of Louisiana’s 64 Parishes.
- Now, RePlanting is ramping up, with 25% of last years new works being replants and 40% this year.
66 churches away from our 2020 goal of 300. With each new church comes new brothers and sisters in Christ, new fronts on meeting real needs in communities, and more glory for our great God as the gospel bears its fruit across Louisiana.
You can be a part:
I’ve heard this one for years when church planting comes up among pastors. A couple of responses:
1. Who said we’re trying to plant small churches? That’s never the goal. The goal is to reach people for Christ. Church Planting is one of the means. God, the context, the partners, and a lot of other things often determines the size of the church. If you don’t want to see another small church, get involved and help us plant a big one!
2. This may say more about your vision and belief in God’s ability than the local church planting strategy. In every apple is an orchard. In every believer is a potential to reach more. In every group of believers, no matter how small is the potential for a movement. Let’s believe God for bigger things.
3. “We don’t need another small church…” Unless your lost and on your way to hell. Then you need a small church, medium size church, mega church, or whatever kind of church to come and get you and share the good news of God’s grace and salvation! Let’s not forget that this is about heaven and hell, not our own ego or discomfort.
4. And remember, God has no small churches and no big pastors. God doesn’t show favoritism (James 2:9). God doesn’t see as man sees (1 Samuel 16:7). The kingdom is upside down – to be great, be a servant; to be first, go last; to live, you’ve got to die. Can’t you imagine with me that the God that governs an upside down kingdom values and cheers on the small church as much as the big church?
Church Planting is a great means of evangelizing and discipling a community. Until every person is reached, let’s strive to do everything possible to reach them. Including planting small churches, big churches, and all kinds of other churches to see the kingdom come as earth as it is in heaven. And today, every church can get involved in church planting, church replanting, multi-site development. Pick your pleasure and lets reach people for Christ.
This month, Louisiana Baptists will mark new churches number 228 and 229, since 2010. The goal is 300 by 2020. We’ve passed the milestones of 10,000 new commitments to Christ, and celebrated 150 and 200 churches planted. Another interesting stat to watch for me has been the breadth of church planting in Louisiana. With the next two plants, we’ll mark the 100th city or town to have a new church planted in it since 2010. And keep in mind, Louisiana only has 304 incorporated cities and towns. Grateful for our church planters, partner church’s, and all who contribute to the Cooperative Program and State Missions Offerings to see churches planted across Louisiana.
We actually still have some significant towns without a Southern Baptist church in Louisiana, and a few with little or no evangelical presence. So our work continues…
And if you’re wondering WHY? Why plant churches in Louisiana, see my post entitled Recent Q&A: Why Plant Churches.
I spend a lot of time talking and thinking about church buildings. From older churches trying to rethink their 1960’s built classrooms to new churches trying to fit the nursery into a school hallway. Buildings are important to churches. I wish it weren’t so sometimes. Because they are SO EXPENSIVE! And a church building eats money 7 days per week, when most churches use it 2-3 days per week. Being Portable is a good option to cut cost, but even portable church doesn’t guarantee effective contextualized ministry in a community or the multiplication of disciples. Often times pastors express to me the limitations of the building to ministry and multiplication.
What guidance can we find in the New Testament for the use of buildings for church? Not much. The idea of building a church for worship, etc. had not come into its own yet. We see homes, parties, synagogues (Jewish teaching centers), mountainsides, the Jewish Temple, and lake shores utilized for the ministry of Jesus and the local church. And then one of my favorite spaces mentioned in the Bible is “the Hall of Tyrannus” in Acts 19:8-10:
8 Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly over a period of three months, arguing and persuading them about the kingdom of God. 9 But when some became hardened and would not believe, slandering the Way in front of the crowd, he withdrew from them, taking the disciples, and conducted discussions every day in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. 10 This went on for two years, so that all the residents of Asia, both Jews and Greeks, heard the word of the Lord.
We don’t know a lot about this lecture hall, but what we do know can give us some principles of thinking Biblically about buildings.
- It was a Public Place – I’ve written about the need for churches to be located in familiar, visible locations HERE. This Hall was evidently in the city center and a well-known place.
- It was a Place for Disciples to Gather – Paul took the disciples from the synagogue, where they were unwelcomed, to this hall where he could train them further in evangelism and life on mission. It was a place for gathering disciples.
- It was a Place to Interact with Unbelievers – Non-believers were invited in and comfortable with this space. Discussions were held that no doubt served to evangelize the lost and equip the saved.
- It was a Place for Disciples to Be Sent Out – All of Asia heard the word of the Lord! Wow! That’s serious multiplication. Who was spreading this word? And without radio, podcast, live streaming? No doubt, those who were being equipped and trained by Paul and others at the Hall.
The Hall of Tyrannus was a building that made possible the exponential multiplication of disciples. That should be the goal for every church and the hope of every church building project or meeting space.
What challenges does your current gathering space offer for the multiplication of disciples? Number 1 and 3 are most likely challenges for many churches today.
How can you make your church building more of a public space that is useful to the whole community? A few ideas:
- Starting a Daycare, MOPS, or Mother’s Day Out Program
- Starting a coffee shop or diner
- Opening the building for after school programs
- Holding public forums, training events for the community
- Moving into a public space like a gym or a movie theater or school for worship
How can you make your church building a place to interact with today’s unbelievers? Stained glass and steeples are not the answer that they used to be for people experiencing life. A few ideas:
- Think through service times and styles. Later services are easier for young and unchurched families to attend.
- Offer discussion forums for people with questions about life and God. Check out Life Tree Cafe for starter ideas on how to do this.
- Start compassion ministry that deals with real life issues for unchurched people in your community like addiction, teen addiction, poverty, divorce care, grief care, etc. Get started on exploring needs and resources for compassion ministry here.
What ideas do you have for making church buildings more effective in multiplying disciples? What other takeaways from Paul’s use of the Hall of Tyrannus can you share?
In June of 1998, I joined my first church planting team in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We helped in late stage planting of Celebration Church in Rio Rancho and in starting Bible Studies in apartment complexes in Albuquerque’s north side. Since then, Heather and I have set up chairs for church in Apartment complexes, fire stations, store fronts, gyms, schools, a museum, and an old church sanctuary or two. Reflecting in my journal the past few weeks on some of the tough lessons learned and that I’m still learning along this journey. Here’s 20 off the top:
- Judge each day by the seeds you plant, not the harvest you reap.
- Communities have different degrees of spiritual receptivity or soil conditions (see Matthew 13). Timing of results may be dependent upon how long it takes to cultivate the ground.
- Expect to feel like a failure. Be patient. “patience is better than power” (Proverbs 16:32)
- Failure can be a friend. The best lessons have been learned in my failure and weakness. The first four events I planned as a church planter, no one showed up! Best thing that ever happened to me.
- Church Planting = burning shoe leather. Intentionality, determination, perseverance, relationships.
- If you’re not successful, someone behind you probably will be. We all stand on the shoulders of those before us, or we prepare the ground for the success of those who will come behind us.
- If God called you, he’s calling others to partner with you. Believe it!
- God has no small churches, and no big pastors. When you have 25 people, you should preach and serve just like there is 25,000.
- Persons of peace make ministry possible and show God’s favor. Pray for them. Watch for them. From Apartment complex managers, to fire chiefs, to restaurant owners, to community leaders; a successful church plant will have a long list of community people that opened the doors for ministry. Remembering these names and faces along our journey.
- It takes all different kinds of churches to reach all different kinds of people. One church can’t reach everyone around them. Many Christians don’t understand the gap between some lost people and attending their church. We. Must. Plant. More. Churches.
- The value of a godly, faithful wife along this journey is incalculable. I would have quit a long time ago were it not for the faithful love, prayer, faithful service, and counsel of my godly wife.
- Expect criticism. And don’t expect it to ever get easier to digest.
- Don’t compare your work to others. No two church planting scenarios or ministry settings are equal.
- If it seems like God is trying to kill you, He is. Death to self will be an outcome of faithfulness in church planting.
- It’s about the whole world, not just your church. From the beginning, get a vision for the people your church will impact all over the world.
- Expect pastoral competitiveness. Many pastors have had joy at my presence and success as a church planter. Some have sounded like David’s older brother, “with whom did you leave those few sheep?” (1 Samuel 17:28)
- Don’t ignore longstanding rules of thumb as a rule. The things wise, experienced leaders told me that I ignored, almost always came back to haunt me.
- Faithfulness trumps talent on a church planting and leadership team. Look for faithfulness and character first, talent second.
- The resources are in the harvest. The quicker you can turn the harvest (i.e. people reached) into the resourcers of the ministry the better. Mobilize immediately.
- When there are no other answers, perseverance is the answer.
I love church planting. I’ve also hated it a lot of times over the past 20 years. Lol! I’m stilled convinced of something I heard at the very beginning of this journey – “Planting new churches is the most effective evangelistic methodology known under heaven” – Peter Wagner. I hope and pray that God allows me to be a part of many more new starts over the next 20 years.
Recent Question from an honest member of a local church. “What’s the thinking of the Louisiana Baptist Convention (my employer), behind planting all these new churches? Why not just send more people to great churches like mine?”
Answer: There are Three Major Problems with this kind of thinking as I see it.
1. The problem of the numbers. How many does your church seat? “1,200”. Let’s say your church fills its building 4 times each week. That’ll be 4,800 people attending church. Praise God! I’ve studied your community, and there are actually 125,000 people that live there, and after much research, liberal estimates show that only 10% of them attend an evangelical church. Another 10% attend Roman Catholic churches based on research and liberal estimates. That still leaves 100,000 people that are not going to church anywhere. Where are we going to put that many people? If all the current evangelical churches in the community filled their facilities twice each Sunday, there would still be no room for the majority of these people.
2. The problem of the people. I’ve been to your church and I like it. Most of the people look a lot like me and dress like me and the music fits what I like to listen to. I feel very comfortable there. The preaching speaks to me, because I’ve been in church all my life and I like good Bible preaching. However, did you know that there are a lot of those 100,000 people who have never been to church. They don’t know who Noah or Abraham or Moses are, and they would be a little lost just opening a Bible for the first time. They also listen to different kind of music, their lives look a lot different than mine and yours because of race, upbringing, past mistakes, etc. So, we need to start ALL DIFFERENT KINDS OF CHURCHES, FOR ALL DIFFERENT KINDS OF PEOPLE along with making our churches more comfortable for everyone.
3. Saturation vs. Parish Strategy. Louisiana Baptists and most evangelicals have a saturation strategy of evangelism and church planting. Until EVERY PERSON has had the opportunity to hear and respond to the gospel, we keep doing EVERYTHING we can to deliver the gospel and disciple them. And the Evangelical community has found that church planting is one of the most effective means of doing that. Roman Catholics and other liturgical churches have a Parish Strategy, meaning, we’re going to plan to have one church for an area or part of town, and assume that everybody that needs the gospel will respond at or through that church. It doesn’t consider the number of people, or types of people in the strategy, limiting the number of people that can be reached through the church.
Does that make any sense?
Response: YES! I understand!
1. I was actually thinking about how many people in my neighborhood don’t go to church. Out of 70+ homes there is only 2 or 3 of us that go to church on Sunday.
2. And you know, you’re right, I wish they would, but they probably would not all feel comfortable in a church like mine.
3. And yes, we believe we should do everything we can to share the gospel with our community.
What are some ways that my church could help??!!
Church planters are seen as a rare breed in the body of Christ, but I don’t think they’re as rare as we think. God still calls & empowers people for this important kingdom role. Many times they’re just not discovered or mobilized because we’re not looking to discover or mobilize them. Knowing church planters & being one, here’s an observational list that you may find true of yourself if you’re thinking you may be a fit for church planting. Not saying all of these have to be true, but they may be true.
1. You made a lot of visits to the ER growing up.
Church planters are risk takers at heart & this probably started early. The desire to jump off of, over, or go through any obstacle to the detriment of personal health is often a characteristic of pioneering church planters.
2. You can’t concentrate in church because of the kids you saw playing in the street on the way.
You’re heart will be with those who are NOT in church on Sunday’s. At times it may consume you to the point that you seem at odds with church leaders. God may put that discontent there if he’s leading you to those outside the camp. (See my post on Sending the apostles).
3. You think Chic-Fil-A would be a good place for a church.
If you find yourselves in different environments & believe that spiritual life could happen there you might be a church planter. The imagination of the church planter is usually full of ideas about creating environments to share the gospel. The new churches I have been involved in have met in apartment complex offices, a fire station, a former bar, a local gym, & a museum. Doesn’t make sense? Made perfect sense to me! And worshipping in Chic-Fil-A on Sunday is a dream of mine!
4. You hang out with the wrong kind of people for the right kind of reasons.
In college, I didn’t play intramural ball with my collegiate ministries intramural teams. I had a desire to use the skills I had to build relationships with non-Christians. The church planter will often be energized more by these relationships than relationships in Sunday School. But get ready…
5. Your Christian friends think your weird for that.
You may even be labeled by religious friends for hanging around sinners & disreputable characters. But seems like I saw someone in the Bible that had the same thing happen. Mark 2:13-17.
6. You get a kick out of calluses on your hands.
Church planting is hard work. Gathering & motivating people can seem like pushing a rock up hill. Setting up church in non-traditional locations is not easy. If you are afraid of physical & emotional calluses & soreness then run the other way. Some go into church planting to avoid what they perceive as hard things in church leadership, but you’ll find many of the same things plus some in church planting. Make sure its a calling.
7. You’ve shared the gospel more times than you can remember.
Sharing the gospel must be a natural part of the church planters life & vocabulary. A church is a church because of the Gospel & the Gospel must be shared. The church planter must lead the way.
8. Friends call you with spiritual questions.
Leadership is innate & merely recognized by others. Do people see in you something that they want & need? Do people seek you out when there are questions about life & God? As a church planter you’ll probably be without title, position, & respect. Your character & ability to earn the respect of people because of leadership ability will be important.
9. You usually travel with a group.
You are more comfortable in a group & with a team, a posse. You will not be able to do this alone. Church planters must love people & believe that everyone is better off sticking together. Lone Ranger Church Planter is an oxymoron.
10. You daydream about solving big problems in the world.
North Korea, the crime ridden multi-housing complex down the street, the high school dropout problem, etc. These issues may cause you to stare off into the future & make list in your mind about how you would go about reaching people & changing the places with the greatest problems.
If this list still doesn’t talk you out of it, find out a little more about next steps here. And feel free to hit me up (email@example.com). I’d love to help you get started on the church planting journey. And there is a community that is needing God’s people to say yes and take the jump into multiplication!
Pastor Charles Starnes went home to be with the Lord on December 29th, 2017. He served as Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Slidell for 32 years. During that time the church baptized 485 new believers and added 733 other members to their roles. They also gave over $1.5 million to the Cooperative Program and other missions causes. I remember Bro. Charles as a great encourager of church planters, which included me, after moving to St. Tammany Parish in 2001 to plant a church about 35 minutes from Calvary. Under Bro. Charles’ leadership Calvary was part of planting six new churches, including the first Hispanic SBC Church on the Northshore of Lake Pontchartrain. I’ll never forget what he said at the constitution service of one of those church plants, Thompson Road Baptist Church in West Slidell. He said,
“Everyone always makes a big deal about Calvary planting churches. Thanks for the kind words, but I just thought that planting churches and missions is what every church was supposed to be doing.”
On another occasion he said it like this:
“Everybody makes a big deal about Calvary being part of planting churches. I always say, I didn’t know it was optional.”
Grateful for Bro. Charles and his vision for multiplication and encouragement for church planting everywhere. May his tribe increase.
With 27 Hispanic Church Plants since 2010, Louisiana Baptists have almost doubled the number of Hispanic Churches in our state through church planting.
Guillermo Mangieri, with Istrouma en Espanol in Baton Rouge, recently shared Four Realities Impacting Hispanic Ministry in the US with our Church Planting Network:
1. Hispanics are the fastest growing population in the U.S. – 50 million. And the U.S. has the 2nd largest population in the world.
2. Hispanics are receptive to the message of the Gospel.
3. 23% of the Hispanic population in the U.S. are under the age of 18.
4. The Hispanic population will continue to grow in the U.S. no matter what.
In Baton Rouge alone, there are 17,000 Hispanics. 4% of the population.
Are there Hispanics in your community that could be reached? Are there enough Hispanic churches and ministries to impact the growing population in your community? Let us know if we can help you assess your community and strategize to reach different people groups around your church.
Check out Dr. Daniel Sanchez’s book Hispanic Realities Impacting America for more info on Hispanic Ministry opportunities: http://ow.ly/6NJS30gCyao