By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
ALEXANDRIA – Louisiana Baptists remain committed to planting 300 churches by 2020, despite recent news that the Georgia Barnette State Missions Offering, which helps fund new churches in the state, fell $291,000 short of the $1.7 million goal set for 2018.
The $1,409,000 in GBO gifts will provide money for church planting, but also for disaster relief, resort ministries, Mission Church Builders’ projects, training conferences and leadership training/missions education events, as well as partially fund the missions and ministry team budget.
John Hebert, state missions and ministry director for Louisiana Baptists, said there some resources in place to handle the shortfall and continue the planned church planting pace.
“We will have to be cautious with the way we spend our money this year,” Hebert said. “Our state executive board, missions committee of the executive board and the state missions offering committee will make sure we can tap into reserve funds if necessary. They won’t let our church planting efforts suffer because they understand the importance of them in reaching our state for Christ.”
The other ministries funded by the offering will not be impacted.
Hebert said he is thankful for the commitment Louisiana Baptists have made to church planting.
Since 2010, Louisiana Baptists have planted 234 churches, with special attention given to New Orleans and along the I-10 corridor and southward because that is where 3 million Louisianans reside, about 67 percent of the state’s population.
So far, 178 of the new church plants are located in those areas.
Ethnic diversity also has been a focus. Among the 234 church plants, 70 are predominately African American in membership, 31 largely are Hispanic congregations, 10 describe themselves as Asian and 17 are multi-ethnic.
Importantly, since 2010 Louisiana Baptist church plants have experienced a harvest of more than 14,206 new believers with 3,810 baptisms resulting
“We made a commitment to be very strategic about our church planting among places we have not reached or don’t have an impact yet,” Hebert said. “Our churches are reaching places we have not previously reached, and that’s exciting.
“Church planting has found favor among our churches and associations since we set this goal in 2010,” he continued. “I am thankful to our executive board and our executive director for their willingness to do whatever it takes to plant churches in our state. They have created a rich environment for church planting.
We believe God will continue to use Louisiana Baptists to reach the lost in our state with the Gospel through our church planting emphasis.”
By The Numbers: GBO giving
Goal: $ 1,945,000