When many people see a homeless person on the street, there is a tendency to move to the other side of the street, not knowing what to do. Then, there is a tendency to feel guilty for not doing anything to help. The question is, how do we have a compassionate heart. How do we look back past people’s circumstances and see the real needs of people.
H-healthy. We need to be healthy people. We need to be focused on positive self- worth as people who are charged with serving others as a way of life. We need to find our purpose and utilize our purpose in every situation. We need to be spiritually clean so that we will feel confident in helping others.
E-enthusiastic. Where does enthusiasm come from? Enthusiasm comes from the Holy Spirit. When we are living a healthy life, the power of the Holy Spirit can fill up our life, and give us the enthusiasm it takes to interact with needy people and show the compassion of Jesus to people around us.
A-attentive. We need to be attentive to PEOPLE. Behind every needy circumstance is a person, who has gotten to the place of need by a series of twists and turns. Some are self-inflicted, but others are truly the events that happen in people’s lives. I met a man on the street in Nashville and he began to give me the “two dollar” hustle. I listened to him and he kept saying, “My dad died in 2005”…and everything changed from that moment. I told him, “until you go back to that moment and resolve your dad’s death, you will never be able to move forward.” I told him that God could be his replacement father if allowed. He didn’t get his two dollars, but hopefully he was impacted by the message.
R-respectful-We need to be careful to erase the language of alienation that borders on racism. Words like “those people” or “the people from that side of town”, or “those children” should be lost from our vocabulary. People are people and we need to treat people well, especially at the point of physical/spiritual need.
T-truthful. We need to tell people the truth. If you can help someone today, help them today. But don’t give the impression that you can help tomorrow if you can’t. Needy people are naturally not trusting. One of the greatest ways to minister to people past the immediate need, is to be truthful, and show up when you are supposed to. Be a person who can be counted on, and truly needy people will respond to your message.
Baptists are good at talking about what we should do and how to do it, but do you remember WHY you do what you do? We exist to glorify God. We glorify God when we make disciples. We make disciples by sharing the gospel with the lost, developing biblical community, helping believers to mature spiritually and equipping believers to live missionally.
Thanks to your generosity, Care & Hope Ministry is able to make a great difference in Bastrop! Director Pam Walker gets to see the impact of your gifts daily. Watch her video and others at GeorgiaBarnette.org.
Living in primitive one-room homes on the side of an active volcano, I experienced a church that personified beauty. Their beauty wasn’t found in ornate stained glass windows or plush carpet. Come to think of it, the church didn’t even have windows or flooring! As we worshiped in Guatemala, looking around, I whispered to myself, “What a beautiful church – perhaps the most beautiful church I’ve ever seen.” Honestly, to return to the climate controlled, multi-million-dollar facility known as my church was a bit of a downer after worshiping in that little village close to the equator.I had an epiphany about why the church in Guatemala seemed so much more beautiful. That church looked more like the first century church than mine. They worshiped without time constraint, they certainly gave sacrificially even in poverty and it was apparent that God was doing things in that crowded room that I hadn’t seen God do before back in the US. So how can we make our church more like a New Testament church? Here are 3 values of the early church. As you read them, think about your church. Identify some ways your church can take steps to capture the bliss of creating something beautiful in your faith community.
Value 1: Vibrant Prayer
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to the prayers. Acts 2:42 HCSB Old truth. Still true. Prayer has to begin the process. Pray constantly as a fellowship! Take steps this year to make your church a house of prayer. Schedule a night of prayer in which people come to the church to pray at allotted times throughout the night. Teach your students how to pray. They must have this skill as the days grow darker. Reboot your prayer room in the church Make small group praying a part of your main worship experience. Don’t use it simply as transitions for the offering, sermon or music.
Value 2: Divine Activity
Everyone felt a deep sense of awe, while many miracles and signs took place through the apostles. Acts 2:43 (Phillips) Look for God’s hand in what your church is doing. How is God at work. Not only in your church but around the world. We often tend to talk about how bad the world is becoming and we forget all the amazing things God is doing around our city, our state or around the world. Check out these videos . They’d be a great starting point to the celebration.
Value 3: Dangerous Generosity
All the believers shared everything in common; they sold their possessions and goods and divided the proceeds among the fellowship according to individual need. Acts 2:44 (Phillips) It’s just a fact that God blesses a giving church. In Louisiana we have the opportunity to give together through the Georgia Barnette State Missions Offering . This offering is our statewide effort to make sure everyone in Louisiana could be impacted by the gospel through
- church planting
- evangelistic efforts
- hunger relief
- Compassion ministries
- scholarships for emerging leaders
- crisis pregnancy
- missions education
- training for new leaders
- church revitalization
- and the Here For You media campaign that has reached millions across Louisiana with a message of hope and salvation.
The generosity of churches giving away thousands to projects, ministries and missions outside their reach is a direct reflection of what the first church was doing. As believers we personally have a great opportunity everyday to live with an open hand of generosity. Every weekend, as a church, we get to do it together. When we do that in a mud hut or a storied church plant we can whisper to each other. The church is beautiful.
This summer we held Church Planting Network luncheons across the state of Louisiana. Over 100 leaders attended the luncheons and were asked to share three things:
- Biggest Recent Win
- Current Greatest Challenge
- Best Resource
The discussions were great and inspirational. God is truly doing some historic things across the bayou state. It was a great experience to share a meal and get to spend some time with these incredible leaders.
What was the top resource? The #1 resource shared by church planting leaders across Louisiana was PEOPLE! At every meeting several of these leaders would wisely say, “My best resource is the people that serve with me, support me, and that I can call on when I need them.” This fits a church planting axiom that I heard years ago, “The resources are in the harvest.”
Church planting leaders MUST learn how to gather, develop, encourage, deploy, and depend upon people. Our best resources will always be those around us.
Watch for some fall opportunities to network with multiplication leaders in your area.
Multi-site church development continues to be a great tool for multiplying and revitalizing churches. A few observations about current multi-site churches among Louisiana Baptists:
- Those churches have experienced a combined 30% growth in attendance since becoming multi-site.
- 80% have experienced growth in worship and small groups.
- Half have included a church merger or gifting of a building from a declining church as part of the multi-site development.
- Half have requested and received cooperative funding from the Louisiana Baptists Missions & Ministries Team for the new sites.
- All of them were growing churches before multi-site development, not because of multi-site development.
One of the biggest takeaways: multi-site is not a tool for getting your church to grow, but to multiply your growing DNA to a new community. Dennis Watson, Pastor of Celebration Church in New Orleans, which has 6 campuses and is planning more, gives six benefits of a multi-site campus strategy. Multi-site enables your church to:
- Grow larger and smaller at the same time.
- Overcome geographic and cultural barriers to reach new people.
- Address more community needs and provide more community support.
- Involve more people in growth and outreach opportunities.
- Staff with generalists and specialists, so that both groups can be utilized.
- Provide a new church vibe with a big church punch.
How can our church know if multi-site is in our future:
- Do you have a vision for church revitalization that may include merging with a declining congregation?
- Are you running out of space, but do not feel led to build bigger?
- Has your church been in decline and could possibly be a candidate for merging with a sister congregation?
- Take this Multi-site Diagnosis Self-assessment (from Geoff Surratt, author of the Multi-Site Church Road Trip).
Contact one of our Church Planting Strategists to talk about how to start your church multiplication journey.
Follow Up Reading
Interested in learning more about multi-site? Bookmark these great resources.
A common question I’m asked as a church planter and strategist is, “Why do we need new churches when we have so many already?”
Stated in other, more direct ways:
- “We’ve got that area covered already, there’s no need for a new church.”
- “Planting a new church will make pastors in the area feel unappreciated or like they’re not doing their job.”
- “Why plant a new church when my church needs so much help?”
- “Do we really need another ‘little’ church in this area?”
- “Won’t a new church just take resources from other churches.”
These can be legitimate concerns, when brought with a kingdom mindset, and these concerns should be addressed by strategists and planters in the planning process. Here are a few better questions to help truly assess the need for a new church or ministry in our community:
- Is the community being transformed for the good or bad? Instead of starting by looking at ourselves (i.e. the existing churches in the community), maybe we should take a look at what’s happening in the lives of people in the area. Church planting should start with a desire to see the community transformed by the gospel. Is transformation happening as we need it to? Are we willing to admit that the task of transforming our community may be more than one church can handle? Are we committed to life change at all costs? What percentage of our population are actually attending church? What percentage is involved in a small group Bible Study?
- Are there places where the church is not? Flowing out of the first question, what do we find when we look at spheres of influence and places of engagement in the community? Are churches able and willing to engage the local schools? multi-housing complexes? business communities? correctional facilities? chat rooms? neighborhood associations? etc.
- Are there population segments or people groups that are not being touched by the Gospel? Next, are there language, socioeconomic, or lifestyle groups that are not being touched adequately by a consistent Gospel witness? Has there been an increase in ethnic groups in our area? What generations of people are missing from our congregations?
- What is God stirring in and for this community? God is in the world reconciling people to Himself (2 Corinthians 5:17-21). What is He doing in this community in that regard? When our Father’s work includes stirring the heart of an area church to multiply and send out its own to start a new church or launch a new campus or reach out to a population segment, we should not oppose what He is stirring. We can assess if this is a genuine call from God or a call to disgruntlement or if it is born out of divisiveness. We can also hold our planting teams accountable to be agents of transformation not division, focusing on where the church is not and reaching out to unreached peoples.
Many pastors, myself included, tend to think about a new ministry or church through the lens of what it may cost us. What if we thought about it in terms of the great cost to those who may never hear the Gospel, or those who are going through life’s challenges without a family of believers who can love and provide for them along the way? Can we look honestly at our communities and see the need and God’s activity – then partner together to plant for God’s glory and the good of our communities?
Check out the Louisiana Engage Map to research demographic info, locations of current churches, church plants and targets for new churches for communities across Louisiana.
Josh Holland says two words to all of you. THANK YOU! Check it out.
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