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 sixth 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.
Partner with churches, associations and other Southern Baptist entities to plant healthy, culturally relevant, biblically sound, multiplying churches that seek to fulfil the Great Commission.
Since 2010, the Louisiana Baptist missions and ministry team has helped to plant 259 LBC churches. This is 41 short of the goal of 300 by 2020, but that number is within reach.
Prior to the statewide lockdown due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, there was a plan to start 30 church plants in 2020. Lane Corley, church planting strategist for the LBC, told the Baptist Message that despite the obstacles presented by shelter-in-place orders and social distancing mandates related to the COVID-19 crisis, seven new churches have been started so far, and that 21 more are possible for this year. This means Louisiana Baptists are on pace to achieve 96 percent of the overall goal by the end of this year.
The overarching strategy for church planting has been to target the regions of the state where most Louisianans live, with an emphasis on cities and communities along the I-10 corridor and southward where 3 million residents call home (out of the 4.65 million state population).
According to James Jenkins, church planting director for Louisiana Baptists, 193, or about 75 percent, of the new church plants are located in southern Louisiana. Moreover, he said the 259 church plants also reflect a goal to emphasize diversity — of the new congregations, 81 are African-American, 34 Hispanic, 12 Asian and 18 have a largely multi-ethnic makeup. Most importantly, he added, the 259 church plants represent a focus on soul winning: 13,977 professions of faith and 4,094 baptisms since 2010.
Looking toward the future, Jenkins said Louisiana Baptists will continue to have a great opportunity to sow a bountiful spiritual harvest.
LBC Executive Director Steve Horn has identified 33 Louisiana municipalities with populations of more than 3,000 people who do not have a Louisiana Baptist church or ministry presence. According to Jenkins, his team has developed a “33 Towns Strategy” that targets some of those municipalities in the coming years for planting a new church or establishing a compassion ministry as needed.
“The 2020 Mandate for Every People Group is, appropriately, a restatement of the Great Commission,” Jenkins said. “Therefore go and make disciples of everyone, everywhere in Louisiana; in the local church ministry fields, in communities and parishes, and to the very borders of Louisiana.”