LBASYC Testimonies

Hayden

My life before Christ was pretty much the same as any other regular kid. I attended church regularly with my family, but I never felt a desire for Christ in my life. I was content with living my life, enjoying doing kid things with my friends, the rest of the time, being quiet and playing video games. I never really got into any trouble and was, to the standard of society, an exceptional kid.

The end of my freshman year of high school was when I came to Christ. High school had really opened my eyes to the realization that I needed to make a change, in not only my spiritual life but others’ lives as well. I felt a strong desire to submit my life to Christ, and get to know my spiritual father, so that I could make a difference and stand out from the crowd and show others that it was “OK” to be different.

Since I gave my life to Christ, He has allowed me so many opportunities to share his gift. I became involved with our local football team as the athletic trainer, and that has given me the opportunity to get involved with Fellowship of Christian Athletes. I am currently a Huddle Leader in FCA and that has allowed me to share my faith with others and set a godly example for those that may not normally have one. Lastly, here recently my church has formed a small youth choir and I have had the opportunity to share God through praise and worship.

Grace

My life before Christ was really lonely.  I was moving schools, trying to make friends, and “fit in”.  In my head I thought I wasn’t good enough. Then I started hearing how God’s love was unconditional and never-changing.  With God I had a friend.  I had someone that I knew would never leave.

Sally

As a child, I had been told about who Jesus was, but I didn’t actually know Him. I knew intellectually that He was God’s son, but I really didn’t understand much and didn’t know anything about a purpose.  Everything I did was centered around me.  I was selfish, ignorant, and lost.  But then I realized I really needed to know Jesus, He chose to die on the cross for me so I could live and have a relationship with God. So I prayed to God and admitted that I had messed up, that I sinned and always tried to do things on my own, that I knew Jesus was His son, that Jesus sacrificed himself on the cross for me and that God raised Him from the grave.

Because of what Jesus did for me, I no longer have to try to be good to earn my way into heaven. In fact, nothing any of us do will get us into heaven. I don’t have to do things on my own. But this was just the beginning. Having Jesus in my heart is like having a being or presence inside of me. No matter where I go, He’s always there giving me love, support, and guiding me. He gives me a purpose and leads me.  He carries me along the way so I can live with meaning. Even when awful things happen, I have peace in my heart because I know God.

Two years ago, my mom was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. If I didn’t trust Jesus, it would have been devastating. But because of Jesus, I have hope. I’m a pretty logical and orderly person, and I like to know what’s going to happen and what to do. I’m a planner. And now God is teaching me to fully rely on Him because He truly, truly is my foundation and strength. I’m learning to keep focus on God and trust Him every single moment of every single day—to be a light for Him in this world—to let God be in control instead of me being in control.

Joshua

Before I met Christ, I was lost.  I was a sinner and cared only for myself.  Now I am a follower of Jesus.  Now I care for others more than myself.

Kristi

Because I was brought up in the church, I struggled with the validity of my faith until I realized all God brought me through.  I was bullied as a young child so much that I had to transfer.  I went to a new school with no friends and no self-esteem.  My entire identity was destroyed.  I made it through to high school and was blessed with friends I never thought I would have.  But then everything seemed to fall apart.  The self-image I had was terrible.  I hated everything I was.  I never thought anyone would love me.  I felt every friend was lying to me.  I couldn’t see anything past the darkness surrounding me.  I began to think about suicide.  I thought I’d do myself and everyone else a favor and just end it.  I don’t know how I’m alive today.  I only know that God wasn’t finished with me, so He saved me again.

Today, I see why I’ve faced what I’ve faced.  He uses me, a messed up, insignificant girl, to tell people He loves them.  I’m alive because He loves me. He loves you too! SO MUCH! I can’t even explain it to myself half the time, but He does.  He’s changed my life and has given me people who love me, no matter what.  Wait for Him.  He knows what’s best.

Caleb

Before I met Christ, I was confused.  I had so many questions: How did everything exist? Who created it?  I learned it was God and that He sent His Son Jesus to save me as the sinner I was.  Today Jesus has saved me and I live for Him. Each and every day I live by faith, trusting in Him and learning what he has in store for me.

Brynna

My walk with God has been a struggle throughout my life. My life before Christ was not a happy one, I was once so depressed I would resort to self-harm just to feel better. When I felt like there was no way out of my depression, I attempted to end my life. I carried around wounds from dysfunctional relationships from the home I grew up in. My anger and lack of respect caused me to lash out and curse and be disobedient. There was a point that I was so desperate to get away, my sister and I ran away from home in hopes to escape our unhappy home. We were picked up by law enforcement. Things were still in turmoil and my mother sent me to a mental hospital at one point during that time and it was the worst experience of my life. I later moved in with my father hoping for a fresh start, but unfortunately I soon realized that life with him wasn’t what I expected and in the end I decided to move back in with my mom to be closer to my sisters.

I became a Christ-follower at 15. Ever since then my walk with God has gotten so much stronger. I absolutely love everyone in my church family! I have no idea what I would do without them. They have been there for me through every step of my journey. The most important thing God taught me is forgiveness, I have learned to forgive those who hurt me and even myself, to forget about the past and move on to build relationships stronger than they have ever been.

When I think about my future, I see so much and God has everything to do with it. I thank him every day for giving me the gift of the future! If I hadn’t been introduced to the church that I am going to now I may have not have a relationship with God and I don’t even want to think about what my life would still be like without Him. God is my strength and my refuge, He brings me up when I am down, He gives me hope for the future and He loves me more than I could ever love myself.

Better Than Busy

This has been one of those weeks. If you’re a pastor’s wife, too, you know exactly how it feels.

In less than seven days there have been hospital visits, unexpected out-of-state travel, a church work day, a baby growing more curious by the day, and – hardest of all – the sudden death of a friend and church member.

Yeah … it’s been one of those weeks.

Busy to say the least. 

We work to balance my husband’s bi-vocational pastorate, two full-time jobs, his full-time seminary classes and family time that is consumed by an active baby girl.

Some days – more often than I would like to admit – I get tired and discouraged. There are so many things I need and want to do that I just run out of time.

Right when my daughter needed a diaper change, the person I wanted to check on slipped out of the church doors.

I forgot about offering to cook supper for a friend in the midst of running errands on my lunch break.

The prayer I promised to say for someone facing a tough day? I remembered it – at 9 pm.

Those are the days when all the things I want to do and all the things I wish I could be get the best of me.

I want to be the best. Have the best relationship with God, be the best wife, the best mom, the best employee, the best pastor’s wife. (I’m type A if you couldn’t tell!)

But right now, the best is beyond my grasp.

These days, I’m learning to step back, appreciate God’s grace and seek bite-sized bits of better.

Find Better in Moments 

It’s easy to skip studying Scripture and praying because you don’t have all the time in the world to devote to it. On those days, instead of giving up, find your bites. Make the most of those small moments to keep the conversation going.

While driving from one chore to the next, pour your heart into music or podcasts that align your heart with His.

As you’re washing the thousandth load of laundry or the hundredth bottle, submit your heart to God in prayer or meditate on a verse.

Don’t lose those moments. 

Your attitude for the day can be won and lost in small moments. Then, when your time for deeper study does come your heart will be ready and open.

Find Better in Community

When time is short the first thing I neglect is friendships. But that isolation only keeps the cycle of discouragement going. Make time to keep investing in those godly friendships – even in small ways. And if you don’t have one, start building one.

Some days, I even use an app on my phone to help me check in on a friend. It may sound odd, but it keeps me connected.

Why invest? Because God uses those friendships to encourage you. 

And, as a special note to moms, when that friend offers to babysit – graciously accept their offer and set a date. You’re not a burden – those times encourage you, your friend and your child.

Find Better in Service

My days always feel more productive when I know I’ve been obedient.

Whether it’s making a flyer for the upcoming revival, cooking or taking a turn in the nursery there is joy in service.

Instead of over-committing yourself, trim down your schedule and serve where the Lord is calling you – not where so-and-so expects you to serve. Then find joy in that service no matter what it is. Even if it’s proofreading the new bylaws!

Better doesn’t leave me feeling blue – it encourages me and brings me hope in the midst of exhaustion.

Better shows me that with God’s blessings every day I can keep finding better.

I pray that you, tired pastor’s wife, can find better, too.

Bible Study Impacts Lives

Adult Sunday School and Small Group teachers want to see lives changed through Bible study.

Jesus and Ezra have provided teachers with powerful and creative ideas to teach the Word of God.

This resource was prepared to help experienced teachers, as well as new teachers, to grow in their understanding of Scripture and in ways of teaching their class/group members toward transformation.

 

download-bible-study-brochure

Breaking the 50 Barrier in Your Church

The vast majority of church plants start out with less than 50 people. Actually, 70% of our current plants in Louisiana started below 50. 35% (or 582) of all Southern Baptist Churches in Louisiana reported attendance below 50 in 2015. Having 50 people or less is not bad.

In some communities, 50 is a big church. A church of 50 has some advantages. Less overhead. More community. 50 people can encourage one another & reach out in ways that bigger churches cannot.

Most church planters have the intention of their church growing beyond 50. Mostly because we are motivated to see more and more people saved and discipled for the glory of God. Also, some of us want to be vocational ministers and try to make a living as a clergyman, but 50 people is usually not enough to sustain a large personnel budget in a church.

50 can be a barrier that’s tough to get beyond. So how do we get beyond 50 people?

1. Pray for breakthrough opportunities!

Sometimes a breakthrough opportunity can happen in the life of a church plant. These are opportunities that open up that can’t be explained except by God’s hand. A key meeting place, news story, financial contribution. Pray regularly for God to open doors that man can’t open or explain.

These do not always = church growth, but they signal God is at work and will usually lead to fruitfulness and health (which have been known to lead to church growth).

2. Give away responsibility and authority.

40-50 is a barrier often because 40-50 is about the number of people that one person can lead by himself. And many leaders are just not willing or able to let go of or share the reigns to let others lead with them.

To multiply, the leader must become a leader of leaders.

Fear of losing control. Fear of someone doing it better. Fear of someone messing up. And, “They’re just not ready yet!” I know. Every time I read the passage about Jesus sending out the 70, I have to stop myself from yelling, “They’re just not ready yet, Jesus!”

Sending them was part of Him getting them ready, and it will be so for your leaders as well. For the sake of your sanity, for the development of people, and the growth of church and kingdom, let go and send them into ministry and leadership.

3. Develop a 2nd and a 3rd group.

40-50 is a barrier often because it’s a group that can fit in one big room. And sometimes we’re in love with knowing everybody and having everybody together all the time.

To move past 50 you need multiple groups, which means multiple leaders, which means more people owning the vision and growth of the church.

And starting multiple groups, whether its classes, teams, or whatever, helps get multiplication muscles moving for future growth.

4. Establish systems that lead people to Christ and His mission.

How do people hear about your church? What do we want people to know and do once they attend? How do we want people to connect beyond just attendance? How will we help people move toward Christ? How do we help people become leaders?

These kinds of questions help us develop a step by step path for new people coming into the church. Today more than ever, connecting with Christ and His church is not something we can assume people know how to do. We have to lead them there. Systems help us do that.

5. Be on the lookout for speed bumps and dead ends.

Where are people getting hung up in their development as disciples? What is causing attendance to stagnate? What needs are going unmet? Some of the speed bumps I’ve hit in the three new churches I’ve been a part of are:

  • Building & space issues. A full building is fun for us pastors, but it can put a lid on the growth of the ministry. Starting a second gathering or moving to a larger facility can keep the group growing. Rule of thumb is at 80% full, start making other arrangements.
  • Unity issues within the church. The radar of the world is up for hypocrisy and disunity among believers. Keep relationships straight in order to grow people and the church.
  • Needs in the body that are going unmet. Watch for your Acts 6 moments. In Acts 6, the Hellenistic widows were being neglected, threatening unity and testimony. A ministry was started to meet the needs and keep the people and churches growing together.

 

What other issues or observations about breaking the 50 barrier would you add to my list?

One of my favorite church planting axioms is “In every apple there is an orchard.” God made every living thing in creation with the potential to make more. We’re all carrying seeds that can be planted to grow more of what God wants. For us, that’s disciples and churches. Do you see your church, no matter the size as a potential orchard to create more for God’s glory?

Recursos de Lifeway en Español

Este  es  un  eslabón para  todos  los  recursos  en  español disponibles  de  Lifeway. Excelentes  recursos para escuela dominical, plantación de iglesias, mayordomía, desarrollo de líderes,  escuela bíblica vacacional, videos y películas, artículos  escritos por pastores y plantadores hispanos y mucho  mas.

5 Best Apps for Ministry Productivity

Sometimes our phone can be a big distraction when it comes to ministry and getting tasks done. Conversely, there are apps that can really bolster productivity if used in a strategic way. We asked several ministry leaders what apps they found beneficial and compiled a list.

Why VBS?

98,000 children attend VBS in baptist churches all over Louisiana. But what difference does it really make? LOTS.

You’ll be inspired by how young mother, Natasha Collins, and her family were impacted by VBS and the power of grace.

Wayne Hunt, pastor of Coteau Baptist Church, shares his perspective on why VBS is one of the greatest evangelistic opportunities that any church can do.  This video is a great promotion tool for churches needing to capture a vision of the impact of Vacation Bible School.

“We don’t do Vacation Bible School to grow our church. We do Vacation Bible School to reach our community for Christ.” -Wayne Hunt

How many times have you said …?

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Staying Connected

Brochure CoverWe all want to see church membership grow. But what makes members stick? This brochure offers ideas, stats, strategies and reminders that will keep your church added and keeping new people. Don’t allow your church’s momentum to be stifled by lack of planning, attentiveness, or prayer. This timely read will motivate your team to take that extra step to reach and retain their people in small groups and Sunday School.

Staying Connected

When the Storms Come

In Luke 6 Jesus makes it clear that it’s not “if” the storms come, but “when” the storms come.

For us who call Louisiana home, the storms have come – again.

Like many of you, I watched the radars that showed storm, after storm, after storm streaming from south to north. The colors on the radar screen were yellow, orange and dark green indicating heavy rains falling again and again over the same water-soaked areas.

Flood watches and flash flood warnings scrolled across the bottom of our screens and lit up our smart phones. Schools began to close as rising waters made many rural roads, and even main highways, impassable.

The recent storms did not generate the national media coverage of a Katrina, Rita or Ike, but they’ve affected a much wider area. Across the entire I-20 corridor in north Louisiana, down the western side of the state and stretching through central Louisiana to the north shore, the rain event of 2016 dumped over 20 inches of rain in some places causing rivers, streams and bayous to rise to historic levels.

According to recent Baptist Message reports, in excess of 7,000 homes have been affected across 28 parishes. In addition to our state disaster relief teams, teams from at least 10 other states are sending assistance. Feeding units are up and running and mud-out teams are waiting for waters to recede.

But I’ve learned this about Louisiana Baptists – when the storms move out, we move in. I’m reading story after story on social media about our churches collecting food, clothing and other necessities for their communities. Some churches are serving as shelters until the water recedes. The yellow shirts are there – again, bringing hope, help and sharing the love of God.

David Abernathy, who works alongside Louisiana Baptists Disaster Relief Coordinator Gibbie McMillan, said, “In my 24 years in Disaster Relief, I have never seen the churches rise to the occasion like they have with this flooding event. They are ministering and working together like never before.”

Thank you for rising to meet this growing need even faster than the flood waters overran their banks. To borrow a phrase from Paul, “I thank my God every time I think of you.”

So, what can you do?

  • Stay updated on the needs in your area through social media, our website (LouisianaBaptists.org/DisasterRelief) or the Baptist Message website (BaptistMessage.com).
  • Pray for the families affected, for the Disaster Relief volunteers and for God to provide comfort, wisdom and resources. Ask Him to draw people to Himself, even in the midst of this situation.
  • Participate. More volunteers are needed and emergency training sessions are being conducted. Check with your local association, our website, the Baptist Message website or our social media outlets for the latest information regarding training events in your area.
  • Donate. Many people have lost everything. Bring clothes, food, and cleaning supplies. Click here to give to our Disaster Relief efforts. Your Cooperative Program and Georgia Barnette gifts provide the equipment and infrastructure, but your cash gifts provide the specific supplies needed for each situation.

I wrote a small booklet following Katrina called “When Saints Go Marching In.” I’m reminded of that again as we deal with the aftermath of this calamity. It is heartbreaking to see so many lose so much. But at the same time, it is heartwarming to see the church, and specifically Louisiana Baptists, rise to the occasion and march in to meet the physical and spiritual needs of our communities.

May God bless and strengthen all of us during what will be a long recovery.