By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
ALEXANDRIA – Louisiana Baptists are getting ready to celebrate a milestone – planting a church in the 100th community since 2010.
On Dec. 2, First Baptist Church in Mer Rouge will be replanted as Bonita Road Baptist Church Mer Rouge, becoming the second campus of Bonita Road Baptist in Bastrop.
James Jenkins, director of church planting for Louisiana Baptists, said reaching this benchmark is evidence of a Great Commission fulfillment to start new congregations throughout the state.
“It’s a little bit of the early church found in the book Revelation played out right here in the Bayou state,” he said.
The achievement will mark a Southern Baptist presence in one-third of towns in the state, according to John Hebert, missions and ministries director for Louisiana Baptists. Also, the replant of First Baptist Mer Rouge will be the 21st church planted in 2018 and the 231st church planted since 2010.
“We are excited about this accomplishment because it means that we retain a Southern Baptist presence in Mer Rouge,” Hebert said. “But it is a reminder that we have a significant amount of work to do if we are to reach the other two-thirds of communities in Louisiana. We want a Southern Baptist witness in every town and the nearer we get to 2020, the closer we are to meeting that goal.”
Hebert, who has served on staff with the LBC since 1999, said the success of the convention’s 10-3-1 strategy is contributing to the healthy environment of church planting in the state.
This association planning strategy begins with a 10-year goal of assisting associations with research to determine how many churches should be started in that area. Then, a three-year strategy is developed as a guide for church planters and primary sponsor churches. This helps form a document used to determine funding levels for associations engaged in ministry projects and church planting.
Through 2020, the goal is to plant 300 new churches, with special attention given to New Orleans and south Louisiana. Since 2010, new church starts have reported 12,781 professions of faith, and 3,372 baptisms.
Planting healthy, biblically sound, multiplying churches in the state is one of four avenues used to engage two audiences – the next generation and every people group – that is part of a plan that came about as a result of the President’s 2020 Commission. Appointed after the 2012 Louisiana Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in West Monroe, the President’s 2020 Commission was tasked with developing and recommending a seven-year min strategy for maximizing the effectiveness of Louisiana Baptists in reaching the lost through the year 2020.
Hebert said replants represent a major component of Louisiana Baptists’ strategy to meet its goal of planting 300 churches by 2020. He said around 10 Louisiana Baptist churches disband each year.
“One of the things we are committed to is taking these congregations that are shut down, repurposing them — getting them a new vision — and replanting the work,” Hebert said. “Through church development, we help them reorganize to save the ministry of the church. We work with the association and local churches to revitalize a congregation by bringing in new leadership, casting a new vision, and motivating them to reach their community afresh.”