Category Archives: St. Tammany Parish

Good Intentions

Last month the Archdiocese of New Orleans announced the opening of their first offices on the Northshore. With the announcement came the stat that 91,000 Catholics live in St. Tammany Parish. With the population estimates at 261,000, that’s about 35% of the population. However, almost 50% of the population when polled claim to be Catholic. 22% claim to be Baptist, but actual attendance roles show only 7% of the population actually attending a Baptist Church at least 3 out of 8 weeks (3.3% weekly for Southern Baptist). Dave Olson’s research of actual attendance roles reveals that 24% of St. Tammany residents attend some kind of church at least once per month, but 64% claim to attend church at least once per month in our recent opinion poll.

Researchers call this the Halo Effect. We tend to give ourselves credit for our intentions when asked without knowledge of ability to fact check. Same holds true for voting. If polled 10-25% more people say they voted then actually did each election according to the voting rolls.

Question: What if we actually followed through on our best intentions? What if we actually did what we give ourselves credit for? What if we actually lived what we believe to be right and best for our families? Would the world be different? Would I be different? Would anything change? Is there a gap between your intentions and your actions?

James 4:17 says, “whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”

Jesus can give us the power to close the gaps and live with intentionality, not just good intentions.

The Elephant in the Christian Church

today is that we are not seeing robust disciple-making taking place. You are more likely to find evangelicals affirming that there is more than one way to get to heaven today than you were 15 or 20 years ago. Why? We’ve done great at getting them in the door, but we’ve done terrible at actually growing them up and grounding them in the faith.

This quote is from the most recent edition of Facts & Trends Magazine. Ed Stetzer reports on three important church trends: Decline, Dropouts, and Discipleship.

Recent research of our own area here on the Northshore backs up each of these as a local trend as well. Our Northshore PROBE found that there was a 14% drop in attendance in SBC Churches from 2000-2010 and a 14% drop in Baptisms, with an accompanying 19% increase in population. I think the quote above from Stetzer explains a little bit of the why. Without robust disciple-making, we cannot expect robust spiritual fruit. A recent opinion poll conducted by Turner Research of residents of St. Tammany Parish (see my previous summary of the research here) mirrors research finding from around the country.

  • 69% of people asked affirmed this statement: “It doesn’t matter where you attend church, all teach and preach the way to go to heaven.” 33% of self-identified Southern Baptists polled affirmed this statement.
  • 84% of people asked could not tell in their own words how a person can become a Christian. 35% of self-identified Southern Baptist polled could not.
Stetzer concludes,

Many churches are now rediscovering ways to push more depth from the Sunday morning stage, better ways to assimilate the crowds into small groups and discipling relationships, more organic ways to nurture spiritual formation, and stronger ways to create missional expansion in their communities and world.

What are other ways to create an environment for robust disciple-making in our churches?

More info on the opinion poll data to be released next week.

New Data on Faith, Religion, and Perspectives on Church in St. Tammany Parish

Yesterday afternoon I had the privilege of being with Don Turner from Turner Research as he revealed the findings of a fresh opinion poll survey recently conducted with residents of the Northshore. The study was commissioned by the Northshore Baptist Association and the Louisiana Baptist Convention. This is the first professional opinion poll that I know of that is specifically Northshore opinions of religion and faith. The study was also conducted in New Orleans and the Shreveport area. Much more will be released in this study in the coming weeks, but here’s a few interesting findings from the St. Tammany Parish data:

  • 66% said they had not been contacted by a church by phone, mailout, or visit.
  • 38% said they would be ok with someone coming to their door to invite them to church.
  • 51% said they would listen if a Southern Baptist contacted them with an invitation, compared to 29% w/Mormons, and 25% with Jehovah Witnesses.
  • On direct mail from churches: 47% said they “never read it. I always trash it.”
  • 62% said they would attend churches that met in schools, movie theaters and other public buildings.
  • 64% said they attend church at least 2x per month. However, analysis of attendance roles indicate that actually only 24% attend 1x per month or more.
  • 73% said if they attended church they would enjoy a church of 200 or less the most.
  • Ministries needed and that your family would actually attend: Prayer Group – 55%, Bible Study – 50%, Block Party – 43%, Leadership skill development – 31%, Marriage seminar – 27%.
  • “What is one single thing a church could do that would cause you to attend?” 32% said “Clear message/strong service.” 6% said “Invite me”!!!!

More on the study will be released in the coming months. One aspect of the study of particular concern related to the churches effectiveness at making disciples of Christ, I’ll post about later this week.

What does this say about our community? Any big take away’s if these are indeed true? Anything surprising? Any question that you have or wish you could ask the community?

One of My Favorite Weekends of the Year in St. Tammany

The Madisonville Wooden Boat Fest is this weekend. The Boat Fest is really unique with the Quick and Dirty Boat Building Competition where crews build a boat over the course of the weekend and then as the festival ends put it in the water for a race. And my boys always look forward to building their own boat at the kids booth manned by the St. Tammany Parish Woodworkers Guild. Bridge Church will be in the free Children’s Village doing balloon animals, face painting, souvenir pics, and Joe McKeever will be drawing cartoons/caricatures. More info here. And check out their Facebook page.

Also, my wife sings with the Northlake Performing Arts Society and they’re Fall concert is this weekend at the Greater Covington Center in Covington. Friday night 7pm and Sunday afternoon at 3pm. This year their doing a tribute to Swing. Heather’s got a few great solos. If you like Jazz come by. More info here.

Also, Two great events to raise money for Alzheimer’s related causes this weekend in St. Tammany:

  • Friday night, St. Tammany’s Council on Aging (COAST) presents A Night In Italy. Featuring great food and entertainment and all proceeds goes to support programs for families dealing with Alzheimer’s. COAST’s funding for Alzheimer’s related issues was cut last year, but they decided that they could not cut the programs, so the money would have to be raised. It will be a great night and all the money spent will stay in local St. Tammany communities. Click here for more info and ticket availability. I’m honored to serve on the COAST Board of Directors this year, so I’ve got a few tickets to sell as well.
  • Saturday AM, Northshore Alzheimer’s Association presents the 2011 Walk to End Alzheimer’s at Christ Episcopal off Hwy 21 just south of I-12. Registration starts at 8am and Opening Ceremony at 9:15am. All proceeds will go to the Alzheimer’s Association, the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer care, support and research. The mission of the Alzheimer’s Association is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. More info here. And check out their Facebook page. Bridge church will be helping out Saturday morning with some balloon animals and face painting.
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