Multiply Louisiana Church Planting Update

A little update from my day job…. 

Louisiana Baptists Church Planting Advisory Council Meeting was held yesterday. The Council heard reports on New Churches across Louisiana, Church Planting Training, Compassion Ministry, and State Missions Offering allocations for Church Planting. Here’s a synopsis:

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  • 86% to our goal of 300 new churches from 2010 to 2020.
  • 33 projected church plants for 2020. Two churches started in January. Six new churches in process for February.
  • 57% of new churches started since 2010 have been non-anglo. 82 African-American, 35 Hispanic, 12 Asian, 18 Other.
  • In the pipeline for 2020 – 8 new Hispanic churches, 2 Portugese, 2 Asian (Burmese and Cambodian).
  • 64 churches started in North Louisiana (25%);193 in South Louisiana (75%), including 70 new churches in New Orleans or 27%.
  • 3,749 Baptisms in church plants and replants since 2010 – 14.5 per church plant. (includes first 3 years of ministry)
  • 13,977 Commitments to Christ reported by new churches since 2010 – 54 per church plant. (includes first 3 years of ministry)
  • Because of the generous giving of Louisiana Baptist Churches to the Georgia Barnette State Mission Offeringin 2019, we were able to increase supplements to church plants and replants by over $10,000 per plant and give each current church plant in Louisiana a bonus at the end of 2019.

Pray for Louisiana Church Planters who are on the front lines of reaching people and meeting needs in our state.

Connect with Louisiana Baptist Church Planting here – MultiplyLA.com. On Facebook, check out our Multiply Louisiana Facebook Group.

Multiply Lake Charles

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Lake Charles is projected to be one of the fastest growing communities in Louisiana for years to come. Oil and gas and chemical manufacturing are booming and have only slowed down slightly with drops in oil prices. Carey Baptist Association and Director of Missions Bruce careyassocBaker serve this area, representing Calcasieu, Cameron, and Jefferson Davis Parishes. Planters and partners are needed to reach a growing population and a key area for our state for years to come. Check out some data on this area:

  • Population of Carey Baptist Association: 241,662 (up 3% since 2010). Calcasieu, Jefferson Davis, and Cameron Parishes.
  • Worship Attendance in 72 SBC churches: 9,128 Only 3.8% of the population worshipped in a SBC church on any given weekend in 2018.
  • Bible Study Attendance: 5,227 (down 20% since 2010). Only 2.2% of the population attended Bible Study in an SBC church on any given weekend in 2018.
  • 72 SBC churches for a church to population ration of 1 to 3,356 residents. Our state average & our goal for each association is 1 to 2,850. NAMB suggests 1 to 2,000 as a good mark. 12 new churches would be needed to get to 1 to 2,850 in the Lake Charles area.
  • 57 SBC churches in Calcasieu Parish for 1 to 3,563. 10 churches in Jefferson Davis Parish for 1 to 3,158.
  • Only 10 non-Anglo SBC churches for 1 to 6,714 church to non-anglo population.
  • Evangelical Population: 59,161 or 24% of the population.
  • Those with No Religious Affiliation or None’s: 65,878 or 27% of the population. So there are now more None’s than Evangelicals.
  • Roman Catholic Population: 83,950 or 35% of the population.
  • Mainline Protestant: 11,157 or 5% of the population.
  • 7,302 students currently attend McNeese St. University.
  • 63% of Carey Association churches are under 100 in attendance. 38% under 50 in attendance.
  • 28% of Carey Association churches with zero baptisms in 2018.
  • Projected Job Growth is 2.5% in 2020 and 3.1% in 2021.

Pray for planters and partners.  

Persecution and Suffering – A Blessing?

Christian-persecution

Throughout the New Testament, persecution and suffering are presented as a foundational element of the Christian faith. Jesus said in Matthew 5:11 – You are Blessed when you are insulted, persecuted, falsely accused. He says that we should, “Be glad and rejoice” Matthew 5:12, and to “leap for joy” (Luke 6:23) when this happens. Really? A few other verses: 

  • 2 Timothy 3:12 – “all who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted”
  • Acts 14:22 – “It is necessary to go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God”
  • Philippians 1:29 – “it has been granted to you on Christ’s behalf not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him”

What are we to make of these and other words of Jesus and the Apostles on the issue of suffering? 

Defining Christian Suffering

First of all, it’s worth noting that we’re talking about suffering and being persecuted because of your relationship with Christ and his work in and through your life. We can make ourselves martyrs in a prideful way, pointing out how hard we work compared to others and in attempts to get the recognition of others. This usually is not about the righteousness of God but the self-righteousness of man. Jesus gets little glory from prideful martyrdom.

Also, some are persecuted because of rudeness, annoying behavior, or for being jerks, not necessarily for representing Christ. When we set out to offend for the sake of offense, we are not following the way of Christ.

Jesus warns us over and over about the reality of suffering for his followers. He is preparing us for the collisions that are inevitable for those living out his values in a hostile, foreign land.

Christian Suffering Around the World

Did you know? In just the last year, there have been…

  • Over 260 million Christians living in places where they experience high levels of persecution
  • 4,305 Christians killed for their faith
  • 1,847 churches and other Christian buildings attacked.
  • 3,150 believers detained without trial, arrested, sentenced or imprisoned

There are many Christians that are suffering persecution around the world. They lead the way for us in standing up for Christ and representing Christ, even in the face of threats. Find our more about modern day persecution and ways to help at OpenDoorsUSA.org and Persecution.com.  

7 Types of Christian Suffering

Life in Christ may bring you face to face with at least 7 types of suffering and persecution. You can also see levels of maturity in these 7 types as well. Or degrees to which you are willing to say “Yes” to following Jesus, and no to self and the world.  

1. Discipline and the Natural Consequences of Sin – Revelations 3:19; Romans 6:23; Proverbs 12:21; Isaiah 57:21; 

There is a fair amount of suffering in the world, just because of sin and the reality of life in a fallen world. We suffer often times because of our sinful and foolish choices and/or the sinful and foolish choices of others. God also promises discipline for followers that step out of his will. This may mean he allows consequences in our lives that lead to suffering and pain that we may learn a lesson. There are cost, painful cost to disobedience and choosing the way of the flesh and the world. Many people are stuck in the painful cycle of sin – consequence – start over —- sin – consequence – start over. The suffering we feel at this level is meant to help us want to break out by God’s power.  

2. Self-Denial and Humility – Mark 8:34; Philippians 2:3-4 

One of the first level, basic calls of life in Christ is to deny self. This includes saying no to entitled living and making life about God’s glory and the needs of others. When we’re immature in the faith, this can be painful and a type of suffering. We must say no to our fleshly nature, to the ways of the world, to relationships that may lead us astray. Denying self leads us to spiritual maturity and life on mission. We discover that joy is found in life that is about God and others. But there may be painful breaks with the sin nature and its ties before this discovery. Necessary pain for those who desire to grow in Christ. 

3. Risk-taking and Stepping Out of the Comfort Zone – 1 John 3:16-18; 2 Corinthians 1:5-7

Beyond self-denial, the Christian begins to take opportunities to live unselfishly with  intentional choices that make life easy for others but harder for ourselves. As it says of Jesus in Philippians 2:5-8, he chose the good of others every chance he had, even to the point of death. This may include simple things like hospitality and opening your home for others, taking a mission trip to a third world country, living with radical generosity in financial decisions, mentoring or taking in a child that is without a family, teaching a small at church, sharing the Gospel with a friend or neighbor. These things are sometimes risky, intentional steps of generosity and servanthood that are inconvenient and uncomfortable. For the growing Christian, serving God and meeting the needs of others is becoming more important than his/her own discomfort. So it may only seem like suffering in the eyes of others.   

4. Being Misunderstood and Misrepresented. 

The relational aspect of following Christ can be hard. All relationships are hard. But when you put yourself out there in love toward others, you will likely get hurt. Jesus’ closest disciples caused him some of his greatest grief through their betrayal and abandonment in time of need. Sheep bite. Hurting people, hurt people. Leaders and people that are serving have a target on their backs. In stepping out to shepherd and serve others, you can expect to be misunderstood, misrepresented, gossiped about, betrayed, and treated unfairly. It is painful every time, no matter how well prepared you believe you are for it.  

5. Experiencing Spiritual Warfare – Ephesians 6:11-12; Revelation 2:10 

Spiritual Warfare could be related to each of these seven types in some way. When you get out of the sin – consequence – start over cycle, and began denying yourself, taking risk for the sake of the gospel, you will get the attention of the spiritual forces arrayed against God and his glory. They can’t touch Him, but they can influence you. We must be aware that spiritual warfare is a reality, but it’s one that we can overcome in the power of Christ and his work in our lives (see Revelation 12:11). 

6. Being targeted for What You Say and Who You Are – 2 Peter 2:2-3; John 3:13

Around the world, believers experience a social persecution and isolation. Imagine if just because you’re a Christian, you can’t get a job, go into a store, or access certain services. We may experience some of this in our country or in isolated places, like being targeted for gossip or not included because of our faith. And some may lose social standing for choosing to follow Christ. Are you ready to follow Jesus, even if you lose social standing?

7. Being Tortured or Killed for What You Say or Who You Are – Acts 5:40; Revelation 12:11 

Many believers throughout history and still today experience the threat of physical pressure and persecution because of Christ. Many have been arrested, punished, killed for being a Christian. Are you ready to follow Jesus, even if you lose your life? 

 

Responding to Suffering and Persecution:

  • Embrace it as a lifestyle. 1 Peter 4:1. From breaking out of the clutches of sin, saying no to self, taking risk for the good of others and the growth of the gospel, suffering is a way of life for those who follow Christ. 
  • Recognize it’s benefits. Romans 5:3; 2 Corinthians 4:17. Suffering produces! It produces endurance, character, hope and longing to see and experience more of Jesus’ power. When you’re suffering, your in good company as well. Spiritual giants through the ages have faced suffering with great faith and are promised a reward in eternity.   
  • Trust God to bring justice. 1 Peter 2:23; Romans 8:18. When we suffer, our natural tendency is to consider the unfairness or maybe respond in revenge. The example of Jesus reminds us that it’s not our place. God will bring justice and a reward awaits those who suffer for righteousness and because of Christ. 

Next Steps: 

  • Is your Christian life all about avoiding suffering instead of embracing it? 
  • Is fear of losing worldly pleasure or relationships keeping you from fully following Jesus? 
  • What entitlement do you need to deny or what risk do you need to take in order to grow in your Christian life this year?

It’s Time to Think Outward About Kids Ministry

Ever thought about taking your churches Kids Ministry to the streets? I think we should. Most children’s ministry is focused on reaching/teaching/discipling kids that show up at my church on the weekends or midweek. Some of the questionable outcomes of this:

  • Are we teaching kids that church is all about them and most importantly, about them having fun, falling just short of disciple-making?
  • In wanting to grow our churches, are we talking about kids as only hooks to get their parents “butts in the seats” (to quote Whoopi Goldberg in Sister Act)? “If the kids have fun, the parents will come back” ~ church growth quip.
  • Children’s facilities can cost mega bucks. No matter how hard we try, we CAN’T out Disney, Disney.
  • Are we cutting the rug out from under parental responsibility for discipling kids as they become more and more dependent upon the “professionals” down at the church?

AND the big one: WHAT ABOUT THE MAJORITY KIDS THAT ARE NOT COMING TO THE FULL COLOR KIDS MINISTRY EVENTS AT OUR CHURCH EVERY WEEK?

In my region of 345,000 people, demographic reports show that around 21% of the population is age 14 or below. That’s around 69,000 kids!!!! In my denomination, which is one of largest in the region with 11,500 worshipers on any given Sunday, approximately 18% of that number are children under 14. Meaning on any given week only 2,500 or so kids are attending. Which is only about 4% of the population in the 14 and under age bracket. We average about 7,000 each year for Vacation Bible School, which is a 1-week, 4-hour overdose of Sunday’s Kids Ministry. That gets us to 10%. Add the other evangelical groups to the mix and best figures, after consulting with other church leaders, give us a number of 4,500 kids in an evangelical church each Sunday for faith and fun. That’s only 7% of the kids in our community. And many of these kids are growing up with absolutely no or very little Gospel story or Christian witness in their lives. Are we losing a generation as we strategize on how to improve our children’s facilities? and preach loudly about God being taken out of schools? and continue to think of kids ministry as a facilities focused ministry? and considering the # of kids that need to be reached, can we even build a big enough facility to do what’s needed?)

A New Vision for Kids Ministry

What if we began to consider the 93% in our Kids Ministry strategy? Not neglecting the 7%, providing faith and fun on Sunday’s as we are, but also thinking of new ways to get God’s story into the lives of kids in our community. When you think of it like this you’ll realize there are more opportunities then you might imagine. Here’s a few ideas:

  • Encourage your congregation to get involved in schools on their terms, not yours. There are a variety of mentoring, tutoring, encouraging opportunities that will equal relationships with unchurched families in the community and opportunities to invest in kids. Our church recently provided free popcorn for an area schools open house and met several families in need.
  • Partner with local kids organizations that are serving children and asking (if not begging) for volunteers. In my community, there’s the Boys & Girls Club, YMCA, local multi-housing complexes, private schools. And we’ve found many of them are open to you sharing THE story as part of your work.
  • Get involved in local recreation and sports leagues by encouraging adults to get involved in coaching kids. Volunteer coaches are usually desperately needed, especially in inner cities. Provide some training on how to be a character building influence on kids and keep relationships going. These opportunities can lead to lifelong relationships of encouragement and mentoring between a child and an adult, who will forever be know as “Coach” to the kid.
  • Multiply what you do on-site, off-site. You’ve made great backdrops and costumes, produced cool videos and posters, you’ve bought expensive curriculum, and prepared awesome crafts. And you’ve trained volunteers who are loving it. Why not look for an avenue to multiply that in the community? Do the VBS at a local multi-housing complex or another church that would not be able to do it for the kids in their neighborhood. Do a one day kids ministry event at a local park or multi-housing complex utilizing all the stuff you’ve done over the past few months. One church in our state, extends their VBS every Summer to a private daycare with over 200 kids, multiplying their efforts to reach more kids.
  • Local Festivals provide opportunities to show kids and families that faith is fun by providing some of the crafts or games or other elements you do each week. This is a great way also to build trust with community leaders and parents. And you can say, “if you like what we do here, you’ll love our Kids ministry at ______ Church on Sunday.” Our local associations have Block Party Trailers with many of the supplies you’ll need for this type of outreach.
  • Get the Kids involved. Instead of seeing them as hooks to get more “butts in the seats.” See them as missionaries who can invest in their friends and demonstrate that faith is fun and meaningful in the community. Teach kids that it’s important to serve and that faith is not just about them but others, by taking them on a local mission trip to the park or festival or multi-housing complex for Kids Ministry Day.
  • Start or get involved in a mentoring program for children without dads, grandparents raising grandchildren, foster children, etc.
  • Instead of VBS. I heard of one church that instead of VBS they encouraged neighborhood Bible Clubs during the summer and trained and empowered people to reach the kids and families around them, utilizing the same curriculum sets and production quality, but in yards and subdivision common space all around the city.
  • Other ideas?

We’ve reached a point where we can’t keep preaching about culture decay, how God has been kicked out of schools, and bad parenting. We’ve got to get involved. The doors are open in our communities. It won’t be easy, but salt is no good left in the salt-shaker.

How could your church take kids ministry to the streets?

If it’s Safe

Challenging words from Nik Ripken in his latest book The Insanity of Sacrifice:

“Safety is not one of God’s core values.”

  • Do we share our faith as long as it is safe?
  • Do we send mission teams as long as it is safe?
  • Do we witness to our neighbors as long as it is safe?
  • Do we make financial decisions as individuals and churches based on how safe those decisions are?

IMG_6302.PNGAs one who leads others and values mobilization of others into missions, safety is too often a top shelf concern of mine. Great reminder that safety is relative to God and not a top shelf concern for the Almighty, nor should it be for His people.

Ripken argues that danger IS and SHOULD BE a part of the life of the faith filled follower. How tied is your faith to safety? Have you said no to an opportunity or a side of town because of the idol and illusion of safety? Is your faith in God lived out only in safe, comfortable environments where you’re never challenged, never have to sacrifice, never have to stress over the needs of others? Maybe it’s time for us to embrace the tension of discomfort and put more faith in God’s power.

More great quotes from Ripken:

  • “Clearly, there is a sense in which the danger of our lives increases in proportion to the depth of our relationship with Christ… the closer we are to Jesus… the more danger we will face in our lives.”
  • “faithfulness to the commands of God holds more value than safety every time! The people of God are called to faithful response whether it is safe or not. If we are faithful, we will go and we will send and we will share and we will speak and we will give and we will pray… even when it is not safe.”
  • “It will probably be safer for you to not share your faith with your neighbor. It will be safer for your church to not send out mission teams. It will be safer for you to not get on that plane. It will be safer to not let the world get under your skin. It will be safer to gather for worship each Sunday and simply go through the motions. It will be safer to keep financial resources close to home.”
  • “God’s people value faithfulness and obedience. And we consider it a holy privilege to do exactly what God has called us to do… even if it is not safe.

Lord, set us free from the idol and the illusion of safety.

Check out Nik Ripken’s great new 90 Day devotional called The Insanity of Sacrifice.

Believe – Follow – Disciple

BoardwalkWhat does Jesus want for me this year? 

Jesus has actually already decided what He wants for us in the new year. We could answer that question with so many great promises from Christ – Abundant life, Joy, Fruitfulness, Eternal life and so much more. As I think about that question, three words stick out to me: BELIEVE – FOLLOW – DISCIPLE. 

Believe

Jesus wants us to believe him for big things. When asked what the work he wanted us to do was, Jesus replied – Believe! (John 6:29) That’s it. Jesus wants us to believe. The promises he gives for belief range from joy to supernatural power. It’s believing in, trusting in, and staying connected to Jesus that fuels everything in the Christian life. The older I get the more I understand why Jesus talked so much about believing. It’s hard. To believe, we fight doubt, fear, negative thoughts, doubters, fearmongers, critics, and more. What do you need to believe Jesus for this year? Salvation, Provision, Power, Overcoming Doubt and Fear? Make this year a year of BELIEF. 

Follow

What did Jesus call people to do? Simply to Follow Him (Matthew 4:19). To follow someone means to make them the leader on the highway of life. You’re following their lead, listening to their instructions, and taking your cues in life from them. For us, that would include starting everyday with a commitment to follow Him, denying ourselves and putting the will of Jesus and the needs of others first, committing to listen to God through regularly reading His Word – the Bible, asking him for direction and wisdom for the journey through prayer. We are all following something or someone. We have the opportunity and invitation to follow Jesus. Make this year a year to FOLLOW.

Disciple

What did Jesus command? Go and Make Disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). What does Jesus want from my life? from my church? He wants Disciples. Disciple, the verb, means to teach and train others. So the command to go and make disciples is to draw others in and teach them to believe and follow Jesus. Most Christians probably see this as the job of the pastors, but it’s a command and desire of Jesus for all his people. And what if every believer and follower of Jesus, discipled one other person this year? The impact of obeying this desire and call of Jesus would be immediately felt in our time. Two questions for the New Year: Who are you discipling? and who is discipling you? We all need to be learning from those ahead of us in the journey and we need to be passing on the faith to someone behind us in the journey. Make this year a year to DISCIPLE.  

What’s Next for the Church in 2020 and Beyond?

WhatsNextDave Travis and Leadership Network have given us a great, short look into the future of church in North America with the book What’s Next: 2020 Edition. Many have sensed that the future may require some adjustments and new thinking about some of the methods we have relied on. Churches are either digging in, hanging on for survival, or making adjustments to meet the future. The short book What’s Next: 2020 is a good short primer that will help church leaders adjust thinking for the future. It would be great to go through as church staff or to give to key leaders in your church as you think about the next 10 years.

Most of the book is confirmation of things we’ve heard over the last few years:

  • Reaching Millennials is both a must and a huge challenge.
  • Tax breaks and incentives for churches and parishioners will probably go away in the future.
  • Church buildings will get smaller and less traditional.
  • The church must embrace multi-ethnic ministry in the future.

There are a few surprises in the book. Here’s a few takeaways from my Kindle Highlights:

On Millenials:

  • In 2019, Millenials will overtake Boomers as the largest generation group.
  • Almost one in three Americans is Millenial.
  • 45% of Millenials are non-white, making them the most racially diverse generation. 20% of Millenials are Latino, 14% Black, 6% Asian.
  • Millenials have a stronger desire to excel at Parenting than any generation before. And kids come first in priority for this generation more than ever before. (Think Helicopter Parenting).
  • Millenials are delaying, but not rejecting marriage. 57% are unmarried, compared to 43% of Gen X’ers.
  • Millenials have the highest percentage of households in poverty. The are also more likely to rent their homes. And they are less likely to migrate or move than previous generations.
  • They are more educated, at least have more degrees than previous generations.
  • Millenials are underrepresented in even the most thriving, fast growing churches in America.
  • Travis notes several things that are working in efforts to reach millenials. I’ll affirm one here, that we definitely see in Louisiana – Churches planted by and led by millenials tend to reach more millenials. 

On Decline of Christianity in America:

  • Nominal Christianity is dying. Faithful Christians are still faithful to attend, pray, serve their neighbors, and accept the Bible as wholly true, and in the same numbers as prior generation.

On Outreach and Evangelism:

  • Travis notes the opportunity to reach people with technology, giving great examples of churches who have effectively used tech for evangelism and outreach.
  • Family ministry is on the upswing. We have the opportunity to help people get married and help young parents pursue effective parenting. “young people today may be confident about many things, but not about the daunting task of raising a child.”
  • The role of Groups in reaching people. Travis asserts that radical hospitality becoming a core value will help us reach the future generations. The longing in today’s culture is for social connections. Groups and gatherings in homes provide that necessary element like few other things.
  • “We have to be willing to be radical in extending ourselves, our homes, and our group life to those who don’t yet believe and may never believe or walk with Jesus. This can feel disruptive in a group. But those who can handle the tension will yield kingdom fruit.”
  • Travis discusses in detail the role of media, Youtube, AI, Instragram in outreach and church ministry in the future. “We need to be thinking visually all the time, because that’s how people are reached emotionally today.”

On Church buildings:

  • “Build it and they will come” is giving way to “take your show on the road.”
  • We will see less 3,500 seat auditoriums and more 800-1200 multipurpose buildings.
  • There are now and estimated 65,000 multi-site congregations in North America, with over one third of them beginning as the result of a merger.
  • Growing churches are becoming more multiplication minded, thinking about a second and third site out of the gate.
  • “healthy, vital churches should be multiplying, because that’s what creates a future for our beliefs, and hope for those whom we’ve yet to reach for Christ.”

On Tax Issues for Churches:

  • Travis sees the future being dire for Property Tax Exemptions, Gifts from attenders to churches not being taxed as income or being tax-deductible for the giver, and Pastor’s Housing Allowance Tax Breaks.
  • Implications: Church Building construction will be affected. Buildings will become smaller and less noticable. We’ll see more shared facility arrangements with churches and business and churches and non-profits.
  • A Huge Implication: Churches must adjust to the non-tax incentive for givers by teaching attenders the eternal value of true stewardship beyond tax implications. The question I’ve asked: Will lukewarm people give without an earthly incentive? We will definitely find out in the future.

There is much more in this short book that will make for meaningful conversation among church leaders and staffs. Put it on your reading list for early this year.


What do you think will change over the next decade? How do you think these issues will affect your church in the future? Are you thinking differently about church than you were in 2009-2010?

Getting Started with the Bible Memory App

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One of the best tools I’ve discovered for scripture memory sense the Topical Memory System, has been the Bible Memory App. I have loved this App. It has helped me memorize over 1,000 verses in the last year and a half. It also has helped me diminish the amount of time spent on Social Media, giving me something with eternal impact to do in spare moments, besides scrolling news feeds. I’ve wrote about it HERE and HERE.

How to get started with the Bible Memory App: 

  1. Download the App, open and account, find the Verse Library and start with the Group of Verses called “Verses for Children.” About 20 verses that are short, familiar, foundational.
  2. After that, move to the Group “Top 100 Verses.” Another great group of verses that are short, familiar, foundational.
  3. After that, pick another verse library category that speaks to where you are in life. Or, you can search for a group that you would like to connect with. I started with the Topical Memory System Group, because those verses were familiar to me. Right now, I have a group that is trying to memorize every YouVersion.com “Verse of the Day.” Find the group HERE. Will be starting a 2020 “Verse of the Day” group next week.
  4. Put together a group with your Small Group, family, accountability partner, or for your church.

I have loved this app. It has worked well for me. Check it out. Every moment spent memorizing scripture makes an eternal impact – “the word of the Lord endures forever” 1 Peter 1:25.

Pastors Wives: The Joy, the Questions, and the Tears

Anonymous questions sent in by the wives of pastors reveals the depth of pain, loneliness, and uncertainty that they often endure. At our recent Louisiana Ministers Wives Retreat, a panel sought to answer these and other anonymous questions. The name of the Session was “The Joy, the Questions, and the Tears”:

  • How do I continue to show love to people who openly disrespect and criticize my husband?
  • How do I deal with the anxiety of always worrying about what my husband may say, not say, do or not do?
  • How do I address the many different opinions of what is expected of me as a pastors wife?
  • How do I know who might be a “safe” friend for me in my church?
  • What can I do to find peace as a pastor’s wife?
  • How do I live with my church’s expectations of my children?
  • How do I address my troubled / rebellious child’s issues with my high expectation church?

Pastors wives are often stand between the flawed, struggling person that is her husband and the flawed, sheep like people that he desperately wants to lead well. She sees his desperation and wants to help him. She sees their demands and wants to protect him. She wants them to know how special he is. She wants to be herself and feel safe among friends as her husband grows, her children struggle, her pain needs an outlet, and the lost need her savior. I’m grateful for my wife who has walked this narrow road with me. She give me great strength in the vulnerable moments of this dangerous calling. Praying for other Minister’s Wives as they walk this narrow path with the God-called men in their lives.

 

Yes, There Are Towns in Louisiana without a Southern Baptist Church!

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? 

  1. Pray! Pray for laborers (Luke 10:2). Pray for open doors (1 Corinthians 16:9). 
  2. 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 lane.corley@louisianabaptists.org and let me know if you’d like to help with these tours. 
  3. 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.

  1. Terrytown – Jefferson – NOBA – 24,216
  2. Bayou Cane – Terrebonne – Bayou – 21,173
  3. Estelle – Jefferson – NOBA – 16,791
  4. Gardere – East Baton Rouge – BAGBR – 11,229
  5. Woodmere – Jefferson – NOBA – 11,114
  6. Timberlane – Jefferson – NOBA – 10,655
  7. South Fort Polk – Vernon – Vernon – 9,293
  8. Oak Hills – East Baton Rouge – BAGBR – 8,980
  9. Old Jefferson – East Baton Rouge – BAGBR – 8,283
  10. Galliano – Lafourche – Bayou – 7,650
  11. Eden Isle St. Tammany NSBA 7,631
  12. St. Gabriel Iberville BAGBR 7,094
  13. Meraux St. Bernard NOBA 7,073
  14. Village St. George East Baton Rouge BAGBR 6,802
  15. Inniswold East Baton Rouge BAGBR 6,772
  16. Vacherie St. James BAGBR 5,689
  17. Chackbay Lafourche Bayou 5,647
  18. Grambling Lincoln Concord Union 5,184
  19. Elmwood Jefferson NOBA 5,037
  20. Eastwood Bossier NWLA 4,547
  21. Richwood Oauchita NELA 3,378
  22. Buras-Triumph Plaquemines NOBA 3,358
  23. Lutcher St. James BAGBR 3,345
  24. Brusly West Baton Rouge BAGBR 2,721
  25. Chauvin Terrebonne Bayou 2,682
  26. Abita Springs St. Tammany Northshore 2,584
  27. Bayou Gauche St. Charles NOBA 2,557
  28. North Fort Polk Vernon Vernon 2,432
  29. Edgard St. John the Baptist NOBA 2,315
  30. Rosepine Vernon Vernon 2,235
  31. Garyville St. John the Baptist NOBA 2,225
  32. Boothville-Venice Plaquemines NOBA 2,220
  33. Montz St. Charles NOBA 2,140
  34. Labadieville Assumption Bayou 2,092
  35. Henderson St. Martin Evangeline 1,885
  36. Belle Rose Assumption Bayou 1,837
  37. Paradis St. Charles NOBA 1,616
  38. Ama St. Charles NOBA 1,361
  39. New Sarpy St. Charles NOBA 1,203
  40. Cullen Webster Webster-Claiborne 1,133
  41. Paincourtville Assumption Bayou 1,070
  42. Empire Plaquemines NOBA 1,054
  43. Leonville St. Landry Acadia 1,042
  44. Rosedale village Iberville BAGBR 983
  45. Grand Coteau St. Landry Acadia 964
  46. Supreme Assumption Bayou 859
  47. Parks village St. Martin Evangeline 831
  48. Mermentau village Acadia Acadia 815
  49. Killona St. Charles NOBA 815
  50. Convent St. James BAGBR 711

 

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