By Marilyn Stewart, Regional Reporter
Like a familiar landmark leading a wayward traveler home, the 2020 strategy for reaching Louisiana with the Gospel by the year 2020 can help a church get back on the right track.
So said Philip Robertson, pastor of Philadelphia Baptist Church in Deville and a 2020 Commission subcommittee chairperson, in a written statement reflecting on the potential of the 2020 vision, a seven-year initiative that seeks to maximize Louisiana Baptists effectiveness in Gospel ministry.
Robertson, an avid hunter, compared the 2020 initiative to finding directional bearings again after being lost in the woods.
“There is an incredible sense of relief when you find that familiar landmark that …provides the direction you need to get back on track,” Robertson said. “That’s what the LBC 2020 report does. It is a landmark that reminds us where we are, gives us a directional compass heading, and points the way to where we want to go.”
Focusing on two audiences, the next generation and every people group, the 2020 vision seeks to engage them through the avenues of congregational revitalization, church planting, communication and collaboration. Ten “key actions in reaching our state”—known as KAIROS—will also be utilized to engage the audiences. These actions include evangelism, discipleship, stewardship, compassion ministries, partnerships for church planting, and the utilization of media and social media outlets and resources to impact today’s culture.
The 2020 recommendations were crafted collaboratively by a commission of 400 Louisiana Baptist leaders, pastors, staff members, laymen and women working in 20 subcommittees of 20 members each.
The commission’s task, as outlined in the report available at LouisianaBaptists.org, was not to restate or rework the mission of the church, but “to fulfill the mission more completely.”
Some team members see the plan as timely.
“I think it is wonderful and perhaps long over due,” said Glenda Hofius, chairperson of the Mission Education and Promotion subcommittee. “We have been so involved in the working of the church that we had forgotten what the church is about.”
That mission, Hofius added, is to “tell the story of Jesus and what He has done for you.”
2020 provides an online assessment tool for determining church health, then introduces the ten KAIROS steps that are focused on collaboration and cooperation to help a church hone its vision and embrace new ministries.
Scott Teutsch, senior pastor Eastwood Baptist of Haughton and Compassion subcommittee chair, said, “Every LBC church should take the survey and find a base line for where they are and where they need to focus some attention.”
Noting the decline in attendance, baptisms, giving, and mission support, KAIROS #1 begins with equipping every church with an evangelistic growth plan and KAIROS #2 moves the focus to disciple-making.
Sean Keith, staff liaison on the Sunday School, Discipleship and Small Group subcommittee, said resources will be available soon to help churches choose and implement one of three approaches to discipleship: the Independent Model, where churches customize a growth plan; the Support Model, utilizing an outside coach to help the church develop a growth plan; and a Hands-on Model, where facilitators provide on-the-job training for enlisted members to take back to their respective churches.
The Louisiana Baptists Evangelism and Church Growth Team will work with churches to encourage, provide resources for church growth, and report on the results.
“I believe when the recommendations of the Commission are implemented in our churches, we will see more people come to Christ,” said Jake Roudkovski, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary associate professor of Evangelism and Church Revitalization subcommittee chair.
What sets the 2020 vision apart is the wide representation of leadership utilized in its development, team leaders said.
“The 2020 Commission demonstrates a brilliant move of strategic planning because of the involvement of a multiplicity of Louisiana Baptist leaders,” said Reggie Ogea, NOBTS professor of leadership and pastoral ministry and Leadership Training subcommittee chair.
Ben Hackler, pastor of First Sterlington and Youth subcommittee chair, said, “I thought the strength of the 2020 Commission was that it got a lot of different people/perspectives to the table to discuss the various ministries within the LBC.” Hackler added that the collaboration was “something that has been very lacking in the past.”
For all, the focus remains on the Great Commission and leading church members to take the Gospel into the world.
Hofius, a member of Summer Grove Baptist in Shreveport, said her church is now intentionally reaching out to the younger generation and has experienced growth. Seven youth were baptized on Easter Sunday.
“Serving on the 2020 Commission Committee has really opened my eyes to our state and our nation,” Hofius said.
Teutsch said, “Ultimately, we want to ‘live life on mission’ where we live, work and play!’”