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 Baker 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.
Wow! It’s been a busy summer! Great stuff, including celebrating 200 churches planted by Louisiana Baptist churches since 2010. Check out the above vid for some great quotes and highlights from the celebration. Here’s a few notes about the 200 plants:
- 200 Church Plants since 2010
- New Churches have been Planted in 91 different Louisiana Cities and Towns
- New Churches have been Planted in 25 different Louisiana Associations
- New Churches have been planted among 13 different people groups:
– 60 African-American
– 11 Asian
– 2 African Language
– 27 Hispanic
– 14 Multi-Ethnic by Design
- New Churches also include 21 Multi-Site developments and 25 RePlants
Great to be a part of this movement in Louisiana and across North America.
1. Pray, Pray, Pray to the one who governs the nations. (Psalm 22:28, 47:7-8, Jeremiah 10:7, Acts 17:26).
2. Write notes to any local election winners pledging your churches prayer support.
3. Go share the gospel. Our battle is not political, but spiritual. Our kingdom is not of this world, but eternal. (Ephesians 6:12, 1 Corinthians 9:25).
4. And maybe go to the gym. Healthcare expenses are still going to be killer on the church planting budget. Lol!
What else are you doing this DAY AFTER?
For Church Planters, Pastor Appreciation Month can be awkward. Here’s why:
1. New believers don’t know that they’re supposed to appreciate the pastor. They don’t know there are religious trinkets like eagles wings paper weights or books by Paul Tripp or coffee cups with Max Lucado quotes that they should buy the pastor. The vast majority of the church has probably never been inside of Lifeway or Family Christian Stores. They probably don’t even listen to Christian radio yet. So they miss all the hints to appreciate the guy that makes the coffee, sets up the chairs, shakes all the hands, and teaches from the Bible on Sunday’s.
2. In the early years of a church plant, the Planter is often setting the calendar, agenda, and order of worship for everything. So it’s a little hard to say – “In October, IT’S ALL ABOUT ME.” Or “at this point in the service, you all are going to surprise me with coffee cups and gift cards.” He hopes someone might have gotten the hint, but planters may see October come and go without appreciation.
3. New believers in the church plant are probably still trying to figure out whether they appreciate the pastor/church planter or not. “He’s challenged me to change my lifestyle and to give a portion of my income to God. It sounds right and I’m listening, but buy this guy a gift? Yea right!”
Pastors, we shouldn’t take this too seriously. Receive the encouragement of any Pastor Appreciation love, but remember our reward is in heaven. To receive it here may even be a loss for us in eternity (Matthew 6:2-4). And our reward here should be the privilege to serve and see the people grow in faith & knowledge of the Lord (Philippians 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20). Pastors should be ENCOURAGED, not ENTITLED.
There is also great value in Pastor’s Appreciation day for our churches, as they learn to obey verse like Hebrews 13:17:
“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account, so that they can do this with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.”
And 1 Timothy 5:17:
“The elders who are good leaders should be considered worthy of an ample honorarium, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching.”
And 1 Thessalonians 5:12:
“Now we ask you, brothers, to give recognition to those who labor among you and lead you in the Lord and admonish you”
So, here’s some ideas for helping the church plant learn to appreciate their Planter/Pastor:
- If you’re a sponsor church, encourage your church to remember your planter(s) on Pastor’s Appreciation Month. Maybe lead them to all sign a card for Planters in the area. Send it with a date night gift card to a planter family (I promise they need it desperately).
- If you’re a sponsor church, send a staff member to one of the gatherings of your church plant in October, and take a moment to share about Pastor’s Appreciation Month and lead the plant to give a round of applause for their hard working planter then pass a card to the planter and his spouse. This simple act will probably plant seeds in the congregation for the rest of the month or for next year.
- If you’re a Pastor, take the initiative to show appreciation to a Church Planter by taking them to lunch or coffee during the month of October. Or inviting them to join your staff for lunch. Tell them thanks for the big risk they’ve taken and offer your insights on the community.
- If your church has a large staff, adopt a planter for prayer and encouragement during the month of October to extend the Appreciation that your church extends to you.
- Invite a Planter to share at your Wednesday night or Sunday night gathering during October & let your congregation appreciate them for the hard work they are doing.
This is a starter list. Imagine taking a big risk to start something from scratch, working long hours, having a lot of difficult conversations, maybe working a second or third job, and seeing slow developing fruit for a few years. These guys need and deserve our thanks and appreciation.
- Find and connect with Planters working all over Louisiana HERE.
- Find and show love to planters working in the North American Mission Board’s 32 Send Cities HERE. Pick a city and click the link for Planter Profiles.
- Check out a few Planter Appreciation ideas from our New Orleans Send City Missionary George Ross.
The Greater Lafayette area has been called Acadiana due to the influence of French Cajun culture. In 1965, a flag was even issued to give identity to the area & people. Beautiful area, beautiful people. And a great opportunity for evangelism for would be church planters & partners. Here’s some quick missiological data:
>> Population of ACADIANA (Acadia, Evangeline, Gulf Coast, Bayou Associations): 675,207
>> Only 1.8% attend a SBC church
>> Evangelical population only 9%
>> 229,049 unaffiliated with any church (they’re not all Catholic)
>> Population of EVANGELINE ASSOCIATION (Lafayette area) – 404,977
>> Only .9% of the population or 3,806 attend Bible Study in a SBC church.
>> Only 1.6% or 6,649 attend Worship in a SBC church.
>> 46 SBC churches – 1 church to every 8,803 persons. Our goal is 1 to 2,850. NAMB suggests 1 to 2,000.
>> Lafayette Parish population: 221,578. 20 SBC Churches. Church to Population Ratio: 1/11,079.
Planters, Partners needed.
Pray for our current planters in Acadiana:
- Stuart Amidon, Christ Church Opelousas;
- Louis Charrier, New Life Oppelousas;
- Ernest Davis, Olivet Christian Fellowship, Lafayette;
- Kent Duhon, Freedom Biker Church Lafayette;
- Scott Guillory, Christ Church Abbeville;
- Darrell Guy, Unity 1 Baptist Church, Franklin;
- Melvin Mendoza, El Revuevo Lafayette & Iglesia Nueva Vida New Iberia;
- Luis Romero, Iglesia Nueva Vida Abbeville & Mowata;
- Aaron Shamp, Redeemer City Church, Lafayette;
- Dennis Smith, Berean Baptist, Crowley.
Also, had the opportunity to meet new Evangeline Baptist Association Director of Missions, David Carlton. Dr. Carlton spent 18 years serving in Africa with the International Mission Board. Looking forward to working with him & his staff to reach Acadiana. Check them out online HERE.
Other Acadiana Director of Missions:
- Alan Knuckles, Acadia-Louisiana-Mt. Olive Association. Alan’ associations bleed over into Acadiana & Central Louisiana. Several communities in his area with no evangelical churches. Prayers, planters, partners needed.
- Steven Kelly, Gulf Coast Baptist Association (Morgan City area). Gulf-Coast is a brand new solo association. Strategy for this area coming soon.
Portable Church has MANY advantages. I’ve come to love being portable. Here’s why:
Energy can be directed outside the walls, because the walls are not ours. In portable situations, the church is usually not responsible for cleaning, managing accounts, & making repairs. We’re able to direct the skills of the people more to the needs of the community.
The cost of buildings are growing exponentially. In many, not all, communities, being portable is better financially for new & transitioning churches. Often the cost of a building straps congregations with debt & too small a seating capacity for maximizing growth for the future.
3. Community Engagement
A Lifeway research study called The State of Church Planting showed that new churches that meet in public places experience 42%-49% greater attendance than others. Unchurched people are comfortable attending gatherings in theaters, gyms, banquet rooms, hotels. And the benefit to non-profit locations that churches can gather in is great. Churches we’ve planted have met in a Apartment Complex, Fire Station, YMCA, & Museum. Community agencies and organizations can greatly benefit from rent payed & the church can see that being there is an investment in the community.
Portable church allows for the ministry to be built on what is most important, especially in critical early years. When you are portable, people attend church due to relationships & mission. The building & space are less likely to become “tails that wag the dog.”
Isn’t that a lot of work?
Yes. It takes work to setup. But that work involves people rubbing shoulders & elbows together weekly. In my experience setting up church on Sunday’s brings people together. In my opinion, one of the reasons portable churches meeting in public places have 42%-49% greater attendance is because of the work that requires mobilizing people every weekend. Relationships + Responsibility = a Reason to Return. Churches with few mobilization opportunities limit their capacity for growth. Portable church set up expands mobilization potential.
Doesn’t a building signify that you’re a real church?
Maybe so. But do you really want a building to define your church? Church should be defined by its disciples, their love for one another, & the churches ministry in the community. Studies & my own experience shows that portable church can enhance these things.
Won’t people get burned out?
People tend to get burned out in any situation. The work of the leader is to provide good systems, regular encouragement, & changes of pace to allow people to manage seasons of their lives. And portable churches can setup with great creativity & simplicity limiting the workload, but still involving greater numbers of people in the ministry of the church.
Now, churches do reach a critical mass in attendance & finances where ownership & construction may make sense. And God often provides a building at the right time for the growth of His church. HOWEVER, there’s no need to be afraid of portable church. If your thinking about starting a church that may need to be portable or you’re thinking of staying portable, use these questions as a guide:
- Can I find an affordable, portable space that will help me direct energy outside the walls?
- Can I find an affordable, portable space that will help me with engaging community leaders & spheres of influence?
- Will portable church help establish the culture & vision of this new church for this community?
- Am I ready to establish teams & mobilize people?
Find some other great thoughts about Portable Church from Geoff Surratt in my earlier post On Church Buildings and Portable Church.
Church Planters & Compassion Ministry leaders in the Greater Baton Rouge area are getting a treat this weekend, learning from Tulsa, OK, Church Planter Kujanga Jackson. Kujanga & his wife Kimberly planted New Beginnings Church in North Tulsa. NBC is the incredible story of how God birthed a Multi-Ethnic church near the spot of the largest race riots in US History. And NBC has in 10 years, planted 6 other churches & started a non-profit called TOUCH which reaches into 6 major schools & many low income multi-housing developments. The thing I love about this story is that NBC is in one of the poorest communities in Tulsa, but has found a way to be a self-sustaining AND multiplying church. Utilizing the non-religious non profit TOUCH for fund raising, for ministries, & employment of staff, the church doesn’t have to shoulder the financial load of ministries in a community with high unemployment & low incomes. Self-sustaining, reproducing, impacting the community. That’s what we desire of all our churches. Look forward to having Kujanga back in the future!
A few other big takeaways from our time with Kujanga:
- To be a reproducing church you must stay lean & mean. Each time New Beginnings reaches 120 in attendance, they know they are pregnant & begin preparing to send out.
- For transient, low income communities, link strategy to local schools.
- On Multi-Housing Ministry: What you use to draw’em is what you’ll have to use to keep’em.
- Counter entitlement thinking in communities by making them a part of the process, allowing them to participate in planning & implementing events & ministries in their communities.
- What is a Mature Multi-Housing Ministry? The residents involved in the process of making their community better. The church as a link for resources.
Church Plants and Volunteer Mission Teams, Part 2
Mission Trips can be powerful tools for growth of individuals & churches. As a church planter I consider every mission team as a force multiplier, multiplying the impact of our churches outreach in the community. Yesterday I wrote about five rules of thumb for church planters. Today, we turn to the sending church. Here are seven key things to know if your church is taking a trip to help a church plant:
1. It’s not about you.
Every Mission Trip should be about the people that will be served by your church. But sometimes when our expectations are not met or we see things or are asked to do things out of our comfort zone, things turn inward. Train your team to expect to be uncomfortable & no matter what happens make the trip about the community, church, & people you’re serving. Love the Navy Seal axiom that applies well to Mission Trip Preparation: “Get comfortable being uncomfortable.”
2. The Planter is caring for you PLUS trying to pastor a church.
The church planter is concerned about you, but he also has a job or two. He may need to make hospital visits, prepare for Sunday’s sermon, lead a small group Bible Study, etc. As much as he may want it to be, his full-time job will not be to be at your beck and call. If you need that, explain that ahead of time so arrangements can be made.
3. The people at their church are probably new to this.
One of the most frequently asked questions from mission teams is “Where are the people from your church? Why aren’t they helping?” Well, most likely if it’s during the week, they’re at work. Just like you do not hang out at the church & help the pastor most of the time when you’re at home. Also, in most church plants, the people are new to faith, new to mission. The planter as disciple maker is moving them on a path toward engagement with faith & servant hood. Your presence will help as they see you taking a week or weekend to give of yourself. But don’t have unrealistic expectations & don’t be too critical if some of the people from the mission church seem immature in the faith. They probably are.
4. They love their community. Don’t trash it.
When you go on a mission trip, the community will be different from yours. There may be some things that seem strange to you. There may be some things that seem wrong to you. Hopefully, that’s why you’re there, to improve the community through the gospel & with your unselfish presence. Talking bad about what you see may put the planter on defensive or hurt those your serving in the community. Train your team to leave the community better than when you arrived through encouragement & servant hood.
5. Money is very tight. Bring some.
If you’re taking on projects that you know will cost a lot of money, consider footing the bill. Money is always tight for the church planter family & the new church. Ask them what they can afford to cover during the week ahead of time. Also, consider a love offering if they’ve provided housing for your team. Ask them if they took a day off work to help you around the community & consider covering that cost to them. And one of the best things your group could do for a lot of church plants is give the planter a date night with his wife.
6. Try to blend in.
If you made T-shirts for your team, wear them on your day off in the community or on the way home. Remember, it’s not about you. You are serving as an extension of the church plant. The church plant will be better off if after your mission trip the community is saying, “That new church in the community served us” rather than “a big church from ____ came here & volunteered in our community.”
7. Commit 3-5 years.
The mission teams who have had the greatest impact on our community, new church, & family are those who make return trips. Return trips will allow your church to see annual progress of the new church as they return each year. Anticipation will build naturally for each trip. A visit from the church planter to speak at your church could create a powerful relationship. You could even work it out with a church planter to help them develop one particular area of church life that your church is very strong in – VBS, Kids Minsitry, Evangelism, etc. In that way, you’re reproducing yourself in another community with each trip.
I’m excited to see the huge swell of support for church plants & more churches taking in country trips to help new churches. Use these 7 need to know things to train your team for maximum impact.
If you are a church planter or a church that has taken a trip, what else would you add to this list?
Mission Trips can be powerful tools for growth of individuals & churches. As a church planter I have considered every mission team as a force multiplier, multiplying the impact of our churches outreach in the community. However, they can also be a drain on a church plant &/or planter if proper planning, communication, & strategy development haven’t gone into the trip.
In the next two post I want to talk about some tips for producing win-wins out of Mission Trips to help local church plants. Today, rules of thumbs for Church Planters. Tomorrow, rules of thumb for churches going on a trip to help a church plant.
Five Rules of Thumb for Church Planters working with Volunteer Mission Teams:
1. Invite Others to join you on your mission to reach that community.
If God has called you to do something like plant a church, He’s most likely called others as well. He wants to call people from outside your context to be a part of your mission to reach your community. Start with churches that you have relationships with & invite them to consider supporting you through prayer, financially, OR by taking a mission trip to help you with outreach. There may be times when you help them, more than they help you. That’s part of having a kingdom view of your church plants place in history.
2. Ask for a Pre-Visit from a leader.
By far, the most productive mission teams always send an advance team to plan & prepare. That may look like a 1-2 person team several months before or a small team several days before the rest. As you’re planning for outside mission teams, always ask for a advance team of some kind to prepare the way. And the larger the group, the more necessary this will be.
3. Stay away from back to back groups. Unless you have a F-T Staff.
As a church planter, time for the important work of rest & follow up is always squeezed. You’ll need a week to recover & follow-up properly between teams. Unless you have a full-time staff taking care of details, then plan for at least 3-5 days between teams.
4. Set your calendar & strategy early.
Set your calendar early, so that when mission groups call, you know what times you have available & can receive teams & you know what you need done to grow your church at this stage in history. This will save you from an exhausting spring or summer that leaves you feeling that you didn’t accomplish anything toward the planting of your church.
5. Plan for follow-up.
Part of a great mission trip experience for a church is seeing the impact they had on you & your mission. Send thank you notes, send pics of the trip or the results, if they’ve promoted an event for you that they didn’t get to stay in town for. Send videos as you grow, so that they can feel like they’re a continued part. And invite them back.
Some of our best friends & partners in ministry are people that came on a mission trip to help our church plant. Some of them are now planting churches themselves. The investment in each other & relationship built between planter, plant, & church during mission trips is unique. Follow these rules of thumb for a great experience.
Tomorrow we’ll turn to some things churches taking a trip to help a church plant will need to remember to have the greatest impact.
I enjoy gardening. Even though I’m not very good at it. Why? I don’t always have the time to do what’s necessary to grow and multiply plants to their fullest extent. The best gardeners know how and put in the time to create the right conditions for growth and multiplication. The very best gardeners will start with a greenhouse to nurse the plants in early stages before they are ever put in the ground. A greenhouse is a tool where you can create the perfect conditions for multiplication & growth of plants at all different stages and with various needs.
I enjoy gardening in part because of the many parallels it has to church planting and ministry. I’ve began to see church as a greenhouse – a tool to create the right conditions for multiplication & growth OF DISCIPLES. Here are five truths I’m learning on church as a GREENHOUSE:
1. Disciples must be nurtured.
Like plants, like a garden, like a greenhouse, disciples need time and attention. One of the greatest books on discipleship has in its title a reminder we constantly need – Disciples Are Made, Not Born. While we are not completely responsible for the growth of a disciple, part of our commission from Jesus requires time and attention and energy and prayer, etc., etc., etc. One of the greatest disciple makers, the apostle Paul, said it like this in Colossians 1:28-29,
“We proclaim Him, warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ. I labor for this, striving with His strength that works powerfully in me.”
If we’re going to make disciples, we must expect to give much time and attention to people from sharing the gospel, teaching basic truths, responding to questions, correcting, forgiving, etc., etc.
2. A Disciple’s needs change over time.
A greenhouse or a garden is organized based on maturity and needs of the plants. Expectation are based upon time and stage of growth. Just like this, as churches, we need to provide a variety of opportunities for growth for people at different stages of maturity. And we need to teach our leaders what you can expect from people as they grow. The best tool I’ve seen that helps with this is Jim Putman’s great book Real Life Discipleship and the Real Life Discipleship Training Manual. Putman guides readers to understand where people are spiritually based upon what they say, and then how to respond and what to provide for them at that stage. (See my post Things Spiritual Infants Say for a run down).
3. Disciples will eventually need to be sent out from the greenhouse to multiply themselves.
The Greenhouse is not the final destination for a plant, nor is the Sunday worship service the climax of maturity for the disciple. Just like plants are meant to be outside, producing fruit and multiplying, disciples should be trained, equipped, and released into this world for maximum fruitfulness and to multiply the gospel in their sphere of influence.
4. Not all disciples will respond to the conditions you create.
A hard reality to face for the gardener, and much harder for the disciple maker is the truth that some plants and some people just won’t respond to the conditions you create. It hurts when a disciple doesn’t respond to God’s word. It hurts when a disciple leaves your church, but maybe they needed conditions you couldn’t provide at the time. Jesus even said that perhaps only 25% of disciples would become fruitful (Matthew 13). It’s important to remember that we’re responsible for our faithfulness, not everyones response.
5. The church is the perfect tool to create the conditions for multiplication & growth of Disciples.
The church, with all its imperfections, does provide a perfect environment for growth of disciples. A church offers opportunities to learn from those walking with God for years, opportunities to get involved and serve in various capacities, opportunities to have relationship wins and losses. These and other conditions help us grow. A lack of desire to learn, serve, love, and forgive REVEALS a lot about where we are spiritually and our potential for fruitfulness, maturity, and multiplication.
Does your church function as a Greenhouse? How are plants maturing? Are you providing opportunities for people at different stages of growth? Are you training your leaders to know what to expect as people grow? Are you moving people out to multiply in their world? Are you spending time with people that just refuse to grow & may need different conditions or to be let go?
Greenhouse: Basic Training for Church Multiplication
I’m humbled & excited to be involved with training church planters in Louisiana & our latest training is now called Greenhouse: Basic for Multiplying Disciples, Leaders, Groups, & Churches. Next one is right around the corner, Feb 22-23 at Wholly Ground Coffee House & Concert Venue. It’s free. You can join us & work on your GREENHOUSE. Register Here.