Category Archives: Reflecting

Charles Starnes: Planting Churches is not Optional

charles_starnesPastor 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.

2017 in Corley Family Pics

Some of my favorite pics from my personal Instagram feed for 2017. See them all HERE.

2017 Pics 12017 Pics 22017 Pics 32017 Pics 42017 Pics 52017 Pics 62017 Pics 72017 Pics 82017 Pics 92017 Pics 102017 Pics 112017 Pics 122017 Pics 132017 Pics 142017 Pics 152017 Pics 162017 Pics 17

Top 10 Blog Posts of 2017

  1. The Impact of Churches Under 100
  2. On Failed Church Plants: How Many Are There? And Why?
  3. Louisiana’s Healthy AND Growing Churches, Part 2
  5. Breaking the 50 Barrier in Church Planting
  6. The Final Week of Jesus – Chart / Reading Plan
  7. What is a DISCIPLE?
  8. Louisiana’s Healthy AND Growing Churches, Part 1
  9. Church Revitalization Tools
  10. Church Growth = Growing Friends + Growing Family

Looking forward to another great year of learning and growing. Lets stay connected. Follow the blog. Let me know your thoughts when you can.



The Church Planter’s Kid

Our oldest, Jack is 15 today. I’ve updated this list over the years. Added a few things this year. It’s not always easy being the Church Planter’s Kid. Proud of Jack and the young man he’s becoming.

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.

Celebrating 17 Years Married Today

It was 1999, the world was coming to an end (remember Y2K? Ha!), but we were getting married!! Grateful for my good thing (Proverbs 18:22), Heather Johnson Corley! 

Church, Let’s Keep It Going!

I am a Christ follower today because of God’s grace and because in hopes that I and others would receive God’s grace other Christians…

>> prepared and taught kids sunday school lessons
>> prepared worship services and sermons
>> got to church early to turn the lights on, make the coffee, get things ready for me and others
>> in relationship ask about my spiritual life
>> opened their home for Bible Studies
>> picked me up when I didn’t have a ride
>> organized youth camps and took a week off to go with me to youth camp
>> gave money sacrificially to their church
>> made Christ like decisions that challenged me and showed me what it means to be a Christian in the daily
>> prepared mission trips and on mission experiences
>> took me to breakfast and lunch and talked to me about what it means to be a Christian man
>> called me when I went through difficult times in my life
>> took a chance and ask me to serve on a church team
>> took a chance and ask me to teach a lesson
>> didn’t laugh when I flopped and failed
>> encouraged me not to quit
>> hugged me and patted me on the back regularly
>> prayed for me when I got discouraged
>> and so much more

Lord, please don’t let it end with me. I don’t want to be a cul-de-sac on the highway of God’s grace. Church, let’s keep it going!

Your Church Can Grow This Summer!

Last year our small church actually grew by 30% between Memorial Day & the first day of school. Here’s what we did that helped us beat the summer slump. And it does not even include VBS!

1. Celebrate Summer


Memorial Day Outdoor Worship Gathering on the River in Madisonville.

There are at least four great opportunities already on the calendar to build in celebration over the summer: Memorial Day Weekend, Father’s Day, Fourth of July Weekend, & Back to School. Plan on doing something special & unique for each of these weekends. These four Sunday’s were the highest attended weeks of the summer for our church. Sure, some people went out of town, but we made each a special opportunity for people to invite unchurched family & friends & we reached out to each prospect with a special invite. The guests made up for the vacationers. Make the most of the holiday weekends!

2. Break the Routine

When summer comes around, everyone is thinking, “I need a break,” including your church’s teachers & volunteers. Structuring the calendar in such a way that gives some relief to hard working volunteers will help them stay enthused about their teams work all summer. It also builds in the expectation that volunteers will be out of town in such a way that momentum is not lost & relationships are not strained. Our kids ministry combined classes for special days several times & our holiday celebrations were planned in such a way that kids volunteers & setup crews had those weeks practically off.

3. Get Outside


4th of July Weekend Worship Gathering at an area State Park.

For Memorial Day & Fourth of July, we held our Worship Gatherings at some of our communities favorite outdoor venues. Every community has a park, picnic area, lake area, etc. where people like to gather & hang out. Incorporate cooking out, fishing, games, water slides, etc. & you’ve got a crowd. Share the gospel clearly & gather info from visitors. And depending on the location, you may can even maximize the hearing of the Gospel with people that show up not knowing that a church would be meeting there that day. Everybody loves being outside in Louisiana & in our case, outdoor worship gatherings have been a great tool for connecting new people to our church.

4. Connect New People

Of course, sustainable growth depends upon the systems you have to connect people to Christ, to one another, & to a mission greater than themselves. Plan for new people by continuing or starting a new comers class & by having special opportunities for connections with small groups throughout the summer. Also, keep in mind, if new families are relocating to your area, it will likely be during the summer. Make your gatherings accessible to new people in the community & plan on helping them feel welcomed & help them make meaningful connections. Our Connections Team prepares New Resident Welcome Baskets for people to give to new people moving into their neighborhoods throughout the summer.

Summer is a great time to grow things. Churches included. Celebrate. Have fun. Get outside. Get ready for new people. Expect God to bring an increase.


Father’s Day Pancake Breakfast. All you can eat pancakes right through the sermon! Yea!

Church Planting Story: Hope Church of Waldheim

10 Core Group (with Hope Church history).022Was back at Hope Church of Waldheim tonight for a men’s gathering. Heather & I moved to Covington in 2001, to be a part of starting a church in the community of Waldheim. So many great memories in this community. And so many hard lessons. Church planting in Waldheim brought me to the end of myself many times, as church planting will usually do. Wrote about the journey in the post Overheard as a North American Church Planter.

Timeline: Started in October 2001 as a Home Bible Study. Began weekly worship gatherings in October 2002. Worshipped in an unairconditioned Fire Station for 2 years. Moved into a former cafe/truck stop in 2005. Survived Hurricane Katrina in 2005. 55 baptisms in first five years. 1,000’s came on volunteer missions trips from Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Kentucky,  Mississippi, & South Carolina to serve this community through Hope Church between 2002 & 2008. Grateful to have been a small part of the story of this church that will hopefully be a light to the unchurched in the Waldheim community & beyond for generations to come.

Found an old partner presentation to share with the men’s group:

Top Posts of 2015

Thanks for making it a good year on the blog! Blogging is more therapy for me than for anyone else. I consider it an extension of my personal journaling and teaching opportunities. Here’s the top 10 post that got the most interest this year:

1. Things Spiritual Infants Say – How can I know where I am or where those I’m trying to disciple and lead are spiritually? Try listening.

gator2. Top 5 Places to Plant a Church in Louisiana – Still many cities & communities in need of new churches in one of North America’s most unique cultures.

3. #ChurchPlanting Hack: Proven Ways to Cultivate Relationships & Plant Seeds – When starting a new church or wanting to impact a community for Christ through evangelism, scattering seeds should be one of your primary missions.

4. What’s Up with the Local Baptist Association? a few encouraging observations after attending about 15 Associational Annual Meetings

5. The Church Planter’s Wife – In honor of my church planting wife on our 16th Anniversary

6. Real Life Scenarios for #ChurchRevitalization: Merger and Multisite – 9 Keys to a Successful Church Revi Transition that includes Merging & Multisite

7. 5 Things You Must Do the First Year of a Church Plant

Adventure8. 8 Things You’ll Never Hear an On Mission Christian Say – There’s a marked difference between living the Christian life ON MISSION, & just going to church on Sunday’s. You can tell which side of this equation you’re living on by what comes out of your mouth.

9. Scenarios for #ChurchRevitalization: Refocus and Re-Energize – Three steps to revitalization: Assessment, Alignment, Advancement.

10. What is a Disciple? an acrostic I found and liked

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Things Spiritual Infants Say and other Top Posts for November:

My top posts in November:

  1. What’s Up With the Local Baptist Association?
  2. Things Spiritual Infants Say
  3. 8 Things You’ll Never Hear an On Mission Christian Say
  4. A Few Simple Holiday Outreach Ideas 
  5. 5 Things You Must Do Before You Plant a Church
  6. Church Planter Fit 
  7. Jackson’s First Mission Trip 
  8. The Duty of Encouragement 
  9. Church Planting Makes a Difference 
  10. ASAP in Church Planting: What Should I Do First? 
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