By Message Staff
ALEXANDRIA, La. (LBM) – Louisiana Baptists are in the final year of implementing the President’s 2020 Commission Final Report, an initiative undertaken during the leadership of Waylon Bailey, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Covington, and the LBC president in 2012-2013.
The 2020 recommendations were crafted collaboratively by a commission of 400 Louisiana Baptist leaders, staff members and laypeople, working in 20 subcommittees of 20 members each. Ten “key actions in reaching our state” – known as KAIROS – were developed to engage two audiences – the next generation and every people group. These measures for improving the spiritual health and growth of the state were adopted by messengers at the 2013 Louisiana Baptist Convention Annual Meeting.
This article is the second in a series published by the Baptist Message to report what successes have been achieved toward the ambitious goals of the statewide initiative, as well as to note what objectives remain to be done.
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Nearly 900 of 1,650 Louisiana Baptist churches signed up to participate in a statewide Harvest campaign to “pray for every home and share with every person” in Louisiana throughout 2019.
These concentrated prayer and soul-winning activities included multi-church crusades, door-to-door outreach, one-on-one evangelism, single-church revivals and other activities which leveraged compassion ministries to share about the love of Christ.
Although baptisms increased each of the next two years after approval of the report’s goals regarding evangelism, the numbers dropped in each of the last three years.
Year * Worship Baptisms
2013 175,308 10,589
2014 171,536 10,598
2015 168,532 11,110 **
2016 165,228 10,214 **
2017 156,282 9,166 **
2018 159,454 8,856
*Data for 2019 is still being collected.
** Louisiana has experienced multiple disasters since the approval of the President’s 2020 Commission Report. In 2015, the Red River crested at its highest level in 70 years. Then historic flooding struck the state in the north (March – 18,000 homes) and then the south (August – 155,000 homes) in 2016 (nearly 90 LBC churches and 50 LBC pastors’ homes were destroyed or damaged in the two disasters combined). Hurricane Harvey struck landfall in 2017 flooding more than 800 homes in southwest Louisiana.
Keith Manuel, evangelism and church growth team director for Louisiana Baptists, said while statistics have not shown the level of growth set by the 2020 team as a goal, many churches saw growth and many saw an increase in youth and children’s baptisms.
“The challenge for determining the success of the goals is that not all churches breakdown baptisms by age groups on the Annual Church Profile,” Manuel said. “However, firsthand accounts from pastors, staff, and church members showed a great heightening of the conversation and a reawakening to the great needs of our churches and state.
“The endeavor to reach our state with the Gospel does not end next year,” he continued. “The evangelism and church growth team continues to provide resources, both created by our staff and through our partners such as the North American Mission Board, to assist pastors with materials to train their congregations in all aspects of church evangelism. We will be faithful in coming alongside pastors and staff to encourage and equip our congregations to engage, reach, and disciple the masses of people in Louisiana who need a personal relationship with Jesus.”