Does My Community Need a New Church? The Right Questions & Key Indicators

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:

  1. 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?
  2. 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.
  3. 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?
  4. 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.

4 Essential Truths about the Ministry Evangelism Movement

In a small town Baptist church in Louisiana, two ladies, both of them struggling with the grief of losing a child, approached the pastor about a new ministry. They connected with other families in similar situations. Out of their own grief, God instilled a desire to comfort others.

The church got behind it, sent them to some training and a new ministry was born that restored believers who were despondent and disconnected from God and church.  Over time they found reconnection and healing. In fact, some even felt called to minister as well!

That’s what ministry evangelism looks like­­. It’s reaching beyond the wounds and insufficiency of our own story to use the tools of listening, grace, support and comfort to slowly draw the hurting toward the cross. This can only be both through the power of the Holy Spirit and a pastor and church that is courageous enough to release the body to utilize their story and their gifts.

In the 21st century there is probably no greater tool for reaching the lost in your community than ministry evangelism.

Here are four essential truths about servant evangelism

  1. Ministry evangelism is more than simply ministering to the physical or emotional needs of people. It is intentionally evangelistic and its goal is to meet a person’s most important need, a relationship with the Lord. Some ministries stop short of offering the good news of Gods grace but that’s the whole point.
  1. Ministry evangelism is different from servant evangelism. Both are important and should be part of a church’s strategy. Servant evangelism is project oriented, one day to a few weeks. Ministry evangelism is long-term, hopefully years.
  1. Church size is NOT a factor! Some of our smaller membership churches believe it will work in a large church, but not a small one. But regardless how small the church, you can find a need in the community and begin somewhere.
  1. Ministry evangelism, like the early church, is organic. It’s not a program complete with DVD and learner guides. You begin with people! Find the needs in your area and look at the gifted in your church. Where they intersect is great possibility for ministry. You will find that ‘it starts in the heart’ of one individual willing to extend themselves in helping another individual in the name of Jesus.

A ministry-centered church reflects compassion, passion and intentional evangelism. As you and your church care for people’s needs and share Christ with them, God will use you.

Lagniappe: There is no better example than Dr. Charles Roesel, former pastor of FBC, Leesburg, Florida. Dr. Roesel did ministry evangelism at a small membership church in the Appalachians, in medium churches in Florida and ultimately at FBC of Leesburg, Florida. At the time, Dr. Roesel described the church as ‘frozen together by formality and rusted together by tradition.’ Soon the people bought into his vision and they began to average 300 baptisms a year.

Dr. Roesel will be leading ‘how-to” conferences all over the state September 21-24, 2015. You will learn how to establish ministry evangelism and be given Dr. Roesel’s latest book, “It’s A God Thing,” in which he shares 101 ideas on ministry evangelism.

Don’t miss this prime opportunity!

Register here

 

From Zero to Hero: 3 Ingredients for Great Church Videos

What if I told you the three ingredients that could take your church videos from “zero to hero”? In this digital age, church communication will continue to incorporate more and more video to share the on-going story of what God is doing in and through your church.

Here is a list of 3 key ingredients that a part of any great video.

1. Clear Audio

Often audio is an afterthought in video production but that is just not the case for your viewer. Commercial TV and Hollywood movies have an intimate clarity that is synonymous with a high level of quality. I often see videos that have huge audible barriers that prohibit the message from even having a chance to be received. Compare these two videos and determine which one is the most effective in conveying the message using clear audio.

Try to avoid an acoustical nightmare. Sure, stained concrete looks cool but will it be an audible barrier for your viewer? You have been tasked with conveying an important message through video. It can be rich in aesthetics but still fall short in accomplishing the goal due to poor audio. Preferably a room with tall ceilings and a rug underneath is desirable. Pack a rug or two with your gear when walking into a new situation where you aren’t sure of the acoustics.

A well-placed boom microphone such as the Rode NTG1 will do wonders for giving you a clear three dimensional sound. For years I played around with clip on lav mics only to discover their limitations at reproducing a natural environmental sound. If you don’t have an XLR connection then there are lots of options for external recorders. I personally prefer Tascam recorders because of an extremely low noise floor. (Ain’t nobody got time for hissy audio!)

A little compression can go a long way towards making your audio sound polished. Compression is an audio tool that is common in most video editing programs. Used judiciously, it can really help punch up the audio and give it a perceived loudness that we equate with good quality. The way it works is that it controls frequencies that go past a desired threshold that you get to decide on. Once those are controlled then you can turn up the overall volume without having to worry about the loud passages peaking your audio meters. A good setting to start with would be a 2:1 ratio. Then lower your threshold slowly until you see 3 to 6 db of volume being reduced. Too much compression is like too much salt. A little goes a long way.

2. Soft Light

With the rise of DSLR video in church communication, soft light is extremely important to the storyteller. DSLR cameras have a plethora of contrast built into them and aren’t very forgiving if you miss the mark with your settings. Paying attention to harsh light in your environment can really payoff in the finished product.

Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset

Grab a couple of softbox lights to get you started. Lowell makes some great starter kits. Turn off all of the lights in the room and begin to shape your light using the softboxes. This will provide maximum control to shape the light in a way that pleases the eye. As your budget grows consider getting a total of 3 lights for a standard 3 point lighting configuration.

Window light can be your friend. Most rooms have a window so it is best to try to use that light to your advantage. If for some reason your church can’t afford lighting at this time then move your subject towards the window and pay close attention that the light coming in from outside covers half of the face in order to create a cinematic falloff of shadows on the opposing side of the face. In most circumstances it will serve you well to turn off all of the lights in your room. There are no hard and fast rules so use your eye to discriminate between what works well and what doesn’t.

3. Great storytelling

Every story has a strong beginning, end, and some climatic moment in the middle. Make sure your story includes the same. When you are on location make sure that you work with the person you are interviewing to bring out those moments. Listen intently and learn to ask questions that provide opportunities for these 3 components to occur organically.

Ask questions that address the past:

  • “Why did you get started with this ministry?”
  • “How did you come to make this decision?”
  • “When did you start sensing the Lord’s calling in your life?”

Ask questions about the present:

  • “How is God changing your heart now for the people of India”,
  • “What are some recent things that your ministry has been doing,”
  • “So, what are you learning so far about the conference you are attending?”

Finally ask some questions about the future:

  • “What do you see your organization being involved with in the coming months?”
  • “Would you come back next year to this event?”
  • “Why do you think future college students would benefit from what this ministry is doing?”

Of course these are just generic questions so make sure the questions you ask are relevant. Don’t be afraid to ask the same question over to give the interviewee an opportunity to say it better. Make them feel comfortable and don’t forget to coach. Also, have a conversation about other things, joke with them, and this will go a long way to making them feel comfortable with you and the shooting experience.

Make sure to practice active listening so that you can draw the story out in the open during an interview. It is very difficult to do if you are fumbling around with equipment so you will find that the better you know your video gear the better at active listening you will become.

Recently I had the privilege of getting to work on the video above where all 3 ingredients (clear audio, soft lighting, and good storytelling) were present. There is definitely room for improvement but the fact that all 3 elements are there excites me. Incorporating these three ingredients will help you take your next video from zero to hero!

5 Ways to Have Fun and Reach Out This Fall

Fall is a favorite time of year for all of us in the South as weather cools and football season kicks off. Fall also offers some great open doors for reaching out to the community through your church or small group.

Here’s a few ideas for getting on the “Go…” (Matthew 28:19-20) this Fall:

1. Serve the Local School

No matter how open your local schools are to church involvement, there are ways for you to serve them. And no better time to start then right at the beginning of the school year. Here are a few ideas:

  • Pray. Host a prayer meeting for school officials & teachers and send notes letting them know you’re praying for them. And of course, have special prayer for teachers and administrators that attend your church. Recognize them as missionaries to the next generation.
  • Lead a school supply drive for teachers or kids in low income school districts. Most teachers will have a list of needs or wants for their classroom and will know the kids that may need help buying school clothes and supplies.
  • Stock the teachers lounges of local schools with baked goods and notes of encouragement from your church for the first two weeks or so of school.
  • Get involved in the schools mentoring or tutoring program.
  • And of course, encourage members to volunteer, get involved in PTA, and add salt and light to one of the most influentials places in your community (like it or not).

2. Fall Festivals

Whether it’s a Halloween alternative event like Trunk or Treats or just a Fall Harvest Party, Fall Festival type events have proven to be great cultivative and seed planting opportunities for many churches. During the summer, new people relocate to our communities and a special event that invites EVERYONE to your church can give them an opportunity to connect with the body of Christ.

3. Outdoor Movie Nights

With weather getting milder and days getting shorter, outdoor movie nights make for a great fall outreach event. Our church has done these in local parks, in subdivision common spaces, or front and back yards. All you need is a projector, outdoor movie screen ($200 at Wal-Mart.com) or large white sheet, and a popcorn machine. If you’re trying to cultivate relationships you can show a newer kid flick or classic movie. If you’d like to be a little more evangelistic and harvest oriented, you can choose a more evangelistic or directly Christian film. Another lesson learned, made for TV kids movies work great, because they are shorter and keep short attention spans engaged.

4. Tailgate Party

With Football season kicking off in the Fall, the words Tailgate Party will be plastered in every store and commercial coming our way. Redeem this seasonal phenomenon by hosting a Tailgate party at your church with great food and a big screen and speakers blaring the pre-game show and/or game. There is also a variety of Christian sports personality testimonies on sites like Sports Spectrum and I am Second that can be shown during halftime or at a certain point during the game to make the event a little more evangelistic.

5. Hands on Service Project

Cooler weather also makes for a great time to get your hands dirty with a hands on Missions Project. In every community there is elderly and needy residents living in substandard housing. Connect with local relief agencies like the Council on Aging, Volunteers of America, or Parish Housing Authority about needs for wheelchair ramps, weatherization projects, etc. Or poll church members about widows and elderly living around them or in your congregation that may have needs. Wheelchair ramps are one of my favorite Fall projects.

Be sure to check with your local Association to see if their Block Party Trailer is stocked with what you need to pull these events off. And of course, whatever you do, don’t forget to celebrate and say a big thank you to the volunteers that implement and serve.

 

Louisiana World Hunger Offering

In a land of plenty, it’s hard to come to grips with the fact that 1 in 5 people in Louisiana live in poverty – and many of them are children.

As Louisiana Baptists, we are called to care for the needy. The Louisiana World Hunger Offering enables us to visibly show the love of Jesus by providing resources that are used to feed people across our state.

Our goal this year is $330,000 – 20% of which stays in Louisiana to meet local needs. The remaining 80% goes to Southern Baptist Global Hunger Relief to help feed people around the world.

Will you do what you can to help meet this need? Although the offering is scheduled for October, you can collect it any time during the year.

While there are government programs to help feed hungry families, it is simply not enough.

The Louisiana World Hunger Offering will do what the government can’t- share the Bread of Life, Jesus, with all who come.

There are many other ways you can show compassion to the needy. in your community. Please contact our office and allow us to work with you in establishing an ongoing effort in your area. Thank you for reaching out to hungry people in the name of Jesus through your participation in the Louisiana World Hunger Offering.

To get involved or learn more about compassion ministries, click here. You can also contact Jeff.Cook@LouisianaBaptists.org or join the Facebook group (Compassion Ministry of Louisiana Baptists).

New Offering Collection Idea!

Simply print the Can Label pdf below in black and white or in color. Cut the paper into two labels and then wrap the label around a clean 16 oz can. Now you can start collecting coins and folding money for the World Hunger Offering.

You could put the cans around the church. Each family could put a can in a prominent place in the home and collect loose change for a period of time. One church even has a city wide project of leaving a can on every door step in the city, and the entire city fills a can and brings the can to the church on a certain day.

This is a fun way to help the hungry. If your church thinks of another creative way to collect funds, share the idea on our Facebook group (search for the Compassion Ministry of Louisiana Baptists group on Facebook.com).

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