By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
ALEXANDRIA – How can your church grow by 10 percent and baptize at least one more child and youth annually as we head toward the year 2020?
This is the question being proposed to Louisiana’s 1600 congregations by the Evangelism and Church Growth Team of Louisiana Baptists as part of a church revitalization strategy.
“Nothing happens without intentionality,” said Louisiana Baptists Evangelism Associate Keith Manuel. “We will never reach anyone if we don’t intend to do it. It takes hard, intentional work, bathed in prayer and empowered by the Holy Spirit, to accomplish the task.
“Every third person you see in Louisiana is not in any religious place of worship,” he continued. “The fields are ripe for the harvest.”
This revitalization strategy is in response to the final report of the President’s 2020 Commission.
Appointed after the 2012 Louisiana Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in West Monroe, the President’s 2020 Commission was tasked with developing and recommending a seven-year ministry strategy for maximizing the effectiveness of Louisiana Baptists in reaching the lost through the year 2020.
The commission was comprised of 400 Louisiana Baptist leaders broken into 20 sub committees.
They were tasked to analyze specific areas of ministry supported by Louisiana Baptists.
The committees met throughout 2013 including a two-day summit in April, which was the only time the entire 2020 Commission met in one location.
The final report, submitted and affirmed by messengers to the 2013 LBC Annual Meeting in Alexandria, included a focus on two audiences, the next generation and every people group, four avenues to engage those audiences and 10 actions steps, or KAIROS (Key Actions in Reaching Our State). One of those avenues – Congregational Revitalization – employs the first four action steps, two of which the Evangelism and Church Growth Team is leading the way in developing.
Those steps include equipping churches with a proven evangelistic church growth implementation process and assisting churches with the development of a disciple-making process.
To accomplish the task of fulfilling the first two action steps, the Evangelism and Church Growth Team has created resources that will provide a congregation with a customizable tool to revitalize their work. The resources include:
• a biblical basis for the work
• a practical and broad evangelism strategy that leads to reaching all age groups
• a personal plan for evangelism for a pastor or church leader
• an implementation strategy that is systematic and includes evangelism and evangelistic goals for all ministry areas such as prayer, personal evangelism training, events and starting new evangelistic groups
• a strategy that allows the Evangelism and Church Growth Team to deliver, equip and encourage the congregations that choose to engage in such a process.
Sean Keith, Louisiana Baptists Sunday school and discipleship strategist, added that he hopes the new strategy will help make better fully devoted followers of Christ.
“Reaching people is one thing; keeping them is another thing all together,” he said. “From follow up of a first time guest or someone who makes a decision to follow Christ to becoming a fully devoted, fully functioning follower of Christ, a church must have a plan for making disciples.
“Programs are merely the structure and organization to get it done,” he said. “The real work is engaging members in the process of using their gifts, talents and passion to do the ‘work of the ministry.’
“So what is your plan to make disciples,” he said. “Don’t have one? We can help.”
For more information on exploring church revitalization or these areas, contact Manuel. He may be reached at 318.448.3223 or via email, firstname.lastname@example.org.