There’s a new business in town, and its owners have missions and community-building on their mind.
PINEVILLE – There’s a new business in town, and its owners have missions and community-building on their mind.
It’s an online business directory – www.BaptistBiz.com – listing Baptist-owned businesses or those that employ Baptists. It’s a mechanism that connects Baptists in need of services or products with Baptists in their own churches and elsewhere who can provide those services or products.
“We really wanted this to help connect new or potential new members to the local church family,” said cofounder Dale Lingenfelter. “Imagine a new member moving into the area. What better way to get them plugged in than to help them find a fellow church member who is a real estate person, or attorney, for closing on their new house, or maybe a family doctor or dentist. …
“BaptistBiz also helps the existing church members find what they need, and hopefully the businesses are tithing, all of which brings more money into the church for missions and ministry,” Lingenfelter continued. “We believe God has given this [idea for this business] to us, and our desire is to make a kingdom difference.”
Brand new, but already BaptistBiz is growing, from Kingsville Baptist in Pineville – where cofounders Larry Hair and Dale Lingenfelter are members – to Philadelphia Baptist in Deville. With ongoing discussions in Maryland, South Carolina and Mississippi, the cofounders envision the listing going nationwide by the end of the year.
“People within churches can recognize other members and can fellowship with them, but they often do not know how their fellow church members make their living,” said Randy Tompkins, spokesman for the new business. “BaptistBiz provides that information in a non-intrusive way.”
Business owners are freed from the “should I talk about my business or should I not?” tension at church, while at the same time, the website opens the opportunity for other church members to talk with the business person about seeing their listing on BaptistBiz, Tompkins explained.
“We have seen the need for a church business directory in our own church due to the increase in membership we have experienced over the years,” Hair said. “In an effort to support fellow members of our church, and other Baptist churches if needed, we see the directory as an essential and useful tool in every church.
“The vision of linking all Baptist churches in our region, state and, eventually, nation comes from feeling led to use this type of service to raise funds for ministries,” he added. “Our late pastor, Bro. Jim Spencer, loved missions. When preaching on missions, he would challenge us by saying, ‘If you’re not going, you should be sending.’ In response to that challenge, we believe God gave us a vision for something much larger and meaningful than our own personal church business directory.”
The key is in the finances, Tompkins said. A business pays $200 a year to the church for a listing onwww.BaptistBiz.com. The church keeps 60 percent of that – $120 – for the missions or ministry project of its choice, and sends the rest to BaptistBiz.com for administration and upkeep of the website.
Already $2,400 has been directed from the website to missions, Tompkins said.
Listed on the website are a variety of service-related businesses, such as accounting, automotive, dentistry, financial services, home repair, real estate, restaurants, and many more. Additional categories will be added as requested.
Soon, Baptists will be able to search for businesses not only in their own churches, but also throughout the region, state, and nation, Tompkins said. The www.BaptistBiz.com website divides Louisiana into eight regions on a map, to help churches and church members know all the Baptist services in their part of the state.
“By linking all the Baptist church directories in your region together, you’ll be able to search these directories for the product or service you need within the same website,” Tompkins explained. “If you can’t find a member of your Baptist church who offers the product or service you need, you’ll be able to support a member of another Baptist church in your area.”
The easiest way for a church to get involved in www.baptistbiz.com is for a group from a church to take the business directory on as a project to provide the service and to raise funds for their missions project, Hair said.
“This could be the fastest way ever for the youth group to raise money for next summer’s mission trip, or for the WMU to start a needed ministry in the community, or whatever,” Lingenfelter said. “The business gets a year’s worth of advertising at the local, regional, state and national level, all for less than 55 cents a day, and it’s giving 60 percent of that 55 cents – 33 cents every single day – to a missions project. How cool is that?”
Members – or anyone who wanted to – could get to BaptistBiz through a link on the church’s website or directly at www.BaptistBiz.com.
“Each church directory will be listed in [its] region and state directory as well,” Lingenfelter said.
Because of its unique missions component, the directory accomplishes much more than simply connecting Baptists to Baptists, Lingenfelter said.
“Through BaptistBiz.com, we pray that a portion of the money remaining in each church for ministry will be dedicated to their missions ministry,” he said. Technically, however, the church could use the income for its general operating budget or any other way it wanted.
“We believe this is a win-win-win project for the church family, business person and ministry group,” Lingenfelter said. “This is a way churches can do missions and ministry, to further God’s kingdom work loclly or wherever He directs them.”
The church directory also is to be available in a printed format as well, which would allow church offices and ministry groups sponsoring the project to print copies as needed. Also, as new churches join BaptistBiz.com, notices will be sent to those churches already participating.
“We want each church and business to know about the growth of this ministry,” Lingenfelter said. “We will also keep a running total of the amount of money generated for a ministry by church, region, state, and nation which will be posted on each of those corresponding pages.”
Churches will be able to update their directories every three months, allowing new members the chance to join and promoting awareness of the church’s directory within the church family, the cofounders said.
Renewing the listing after a year would be prompted by an email from BaptistBiz.com.
“When the business renews, the church-designated missions project receives 60 percent of the annual fee again,” Hair said. “This should create an ongoing source of funds for the ministries involved.”
To join, contact BaptistBiz.com at Info@Baptistbiz.com or call 318.451.116