By Brian Blackwell, Baptist Message staff writer
ALEXANDRIA, La. (LBM) – Louisiana Baptists are in the final year of implementing the President’s 2020 Commission 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 seventh 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.
Launch “Operation Highways and Hedges,” a multi-year, multi-platform media strategy designed to provide every person in Louisiana the opportunity to say yes to a relationship with Christ.
Following pilot campaigns in three of the state’s seven media markets, “Here For You” (originally titled “Operation Highways and Hedges”) launched statewide in February 2019. According to Louisiana Baptists Director of Communications John Kyle, the initial response is encouraging:
— In the third quarter of 2019, the commercials reached 75 percent of TV households across the state an average of eight or more times.
— The fourth quarter of the year saw the number of reached TV households jump to 94 percent with the same degree of frequency, and these numbers held steady through the first quarter of 2020.
These figures represent an across-the-market average for the weeks during which the commercials aired, Kyle explained.
Social media continues to play a strong role in this effort, too.
In 2019, more than 293,000 people were reached per month, including 1,000 viewers, monthly, who clicked on the “Here For You” video advertisement or visited the campaign website. The first quarter of 2020 has seen nearly 171,000 people reached for the three months combined and a corresponding 350 total who clicked on the ads.
Furthermore, in 2019, outreach through television and social media was supplemented by a partnership with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association that resulted in a monthly average of 483 views of an online Gospel presentation — with 87 people each month indicating decisions for Christ. The output of this media approach has increased during the first quarter of 2020 with more than 500 views of the Gospel monthly and more than 100 indicated decisions every 30 days.
Billboards also were secured in various locations across the state during the first half of 2019.
“God is allowing us to get His truth inside the homes and hearts of people we may not typically reach,” Kyle said. “We have to remember that this is a seeding process.”
Since Easter, the “Here For You” commercials have reflected the impact of the current COVID-19 pandemic, he said, adding that the ads, “When Fear Appears” and “Your New Normal,” can be viewed and shared at HereforYou.org.
Kyle said he prays that each week there will be someone who visits a Louisiana Baptist church, either online or in person, as a direct result of “Here For You.” He asks that Louisiana Baptists join him in that prayer and share the campaign commercials on their personal social media platforms.
“Whenever you see the commercials, stop and pray that those without a relationship with Christ will see them as well,” said Kyle. “Pray the seeds will find new, good soil in the hearts of those seeing the spots. Pray God will water and nourish the seeds already planted and, pray He will prepare some of the hearts for harvest.”