By Philip Timothy, Managing Editor
ALEXANDRIA – Mike Shumock knows the day is coming and he wants to be ready.
“In the 2020 plan, the vision is to plant more than 300 churches by the year 2020,” said Shumock, the Missions Builder Strategist for Louisiana Baptists. “Since 2013, we are already more than two/thirds of the way toward reaching that goal.
“It will not be long before those church plants will want their own buildings,” he said. “And we need to be ready to assist with their building needs.”
Shumock plans to mobilize church-based teams, consisting of five to 10 members in different regions of the state through the associations. His regionalized approach would allow associations and churches to better organize resources to help church plants because of close proximity.
“It would cut down on the cost, travel, and possibly give teams additional time on the job,” he said. “I am emphasizing associations and churches to organize teams that can meet the needs already here and in the future.”
He already has successfully tested his plan.
Gulf Coast Baptist Church in Golden Meadow – a two-year-old church plant – needed help remodeling a recently purchased building into a worship center.
“We have been meeting in a house since we began almost two years ago. When we first started we had 50 to 55 people attending, but because of a lack of room we have dropped down to 35 to 40 weekly,” said Shane Terrebonne, pastor of Gulf Coast. “So, we are desperate to get out of the house and into a bigger building.
“The Lord made a way and we found this building which is located in the middle of town, right off Highway 1 and a prime location on the bayou. It was ideal for us and we closed on April 4. We couldn’t ask for a better location,” said Terrebonne. “It’s a 60-year-old-building, so naturally it required work both inside and out.”
Besides interior structural work, there were soft spots on the porch and decking, the handicap ramp needed repairs and the siding needed some attention. Trees had to be trimmed and limbs removed as well as other odds and ends, and, a lot of painting both inside and out.
The men in Terrebonne’s congregation did what they could but because they worked mostly in the oil and gas industry it was difficult to coordinate a work schedule because of the time spent on the rigs.
Terrebonne requested help from Shumock, who in turned enlisted the aid of teams from two Mississippi churches and two Louisiana churches. First Baptist Grand Isle provided free lodging and the ladies of Shane’s church “made sure no one went hungry.”
“I picked up the phone and made a call to my home church in Wesson, Mississippi (Sumrall Baptist Church) and they sent over a team as did Zion Hill Baptist Church,” said Shumock. “But I was seeking help closer to Golden Meadow.”
Shumock then called Ray Swift, First Lafayette’s administrative and missions pastor about the possibility of putting together a team to assist in the remodel.
Swift and five other men – including 85-year-old Richard Scott – from First Lafayette and First Youngsville drove the 150 miles to Golden Meadow in late May (May 21-22) to lend a helping hand.
“When we drove up to the building, my first thought was to question why this was even being done,” said Swift. “I thought why spend so much time and resources on a building in this part of the city?
“Immediately God challenged me for questioning His work and His ability to do great things,” Swift continued. “As I got out my tools, I met others already working there. I also became acquainted and friends with the pastor – Shane Terrebonne, who has a sincere desire to share the love of Christ with all the people ‘on the Bayou.’”
The group, who were not carpenters by trade, opened up the first floor by removing interior walls, placing beams to support the ceiling, installing about 50 sheets of sheetrock on the ceiling and cleaning up around the building, inside and out.
“When we got into the remodel, it was evident it needed a lot more structural work than I first thought,” said Shumock. “But with the help of Ray’s group and several other volunteers, we were able to take care of a lot of the problem areas.
“Had the church hired someone, it easily would have cost $40,000 to $50,000,” estimated Shumock. “We cut more than 35 percent from the cost of the project which is a huge savings.”
Shumock believes his regionalized approach could be just as beneficial to upcoming projects.
“I would like to partner with churches in the northwest, northeast, central, southwest and southeast parts of the state. I am not looking for big groups but teams of five or six men who would be willing to work two or three days on a project,” said Shumock. “I believe there are a number of churches in Shreveport, Minden, Haughton, West Monroe, Monroe and Alexandria, who have the people to form teams that could mobilize quickly.
“I know there are churches in Lake Charles, Lafayette, Baton Rouge and New Orleans, who could do the same,” he continued. “I can even train high school and college students to help. Many people, both young and old, have told me they experience life-changing moments on projects like this.”
“Mike is doing a great job of surveying projects and giving great leadership to the work,” said Swift. “The emphasis given to new church starts and helping mission-type churches is a construction model that every church and association can adopt, come alongside and help for either a few days or a week.”
But to be successful in this type of mobilization will require the building of a base in Louisiana.
“I cannot stress enough the importance of what lays ahead,” said Shumock. “If we are going to expand God’s Kingdom in Louisiana, we will need God’s people to step forward. It can be done; it just takes a willingness to serve.”