News Articles

FROM THE STATES: La., Tenn., Okla. evangelism/missions news; ‘We need to rejoice with the angels regarding these new believers’

Today’s From the States features items from:
Baptist Message (Louisiana)
Baptist and Reflector (Tennessee)
The Baptist Messenger (Oklahoma)


La. Baptists celebrate 150th
church plant since 2010

By Brian Blackwell

ALEXANDRIA, La. (Baptist Message) — Church planters, state missions staff and numerous guests gathered in the Louisiana Baptist Building Oct. 5 to commemorate the 150th church planted since 2010.

This milestone achievement marks the half-way point for the goal of planting 300 churches by 2020 as part of one of the 10 action steps identified in the President’s 2020 Commission Final Report, which was affirmed by messengers during the 2013 LBC Annual Meeting.

Planting healthy, biblically sound, multiplying churches is a key component to the seven-year-strategy which seeks to engage two audiences — the next generation and every people group — in reaching Louisiana with the Gospel.

James Jenkins, director of church planting for Louisiana Baptists, said the occasion was a celebration of a partnership between church planters, sponsoring churches and directors of missions.

“We have been ramping up our rate of church planting over the months and we knew if we were here at this point that we would be able to get to 300 by 2020,” said Jenkins. “I’m excited because every increase in this number actually corresponds with reaching people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

“We are baptizing people,” he continued, “We are discipling people — and we are enlisting their help to go out and start other churches.”

He said two more churches will be planted by month’s end and 40 new works are planned for next year, noting “that will be enough to keep up with the goal set by the 2020 Commission.”

Jenkins said the strategy is to plant churches where most Louisianans live, so there is an emphasis on the I-10 corridor and southward where 3-4 million Louisianans reside. So far, 119 of the new church plants are located in southern Louisiana.

There also is a mix of ethnic identities among the 150 church plants: 58 are predominately Anglo, 49 African-American, 25 Hispanic, eight Asian and 10 have a largely multi-ethnic makeup.

More to celebrate

Louisiana Baptists Executive Director David Hankins was pleased about reaching the mid-term goal for the number of churches planted, but he was ecstatic about the evangelistic fervor demonstrated by these congregations.

“Our church planters, sponsoring churches, directors of missions and state missions and ministries team all deserve kudos for the prayer and hard work it took to reach this milestone,” he said. “Of all the statistics reported, the most significant for me is the 2,500 plus baptisms generated by these new churches.

“We need to rejoice with the angels regarding these new believers,” Hankins said. “Now, it’s on to the final goal of 300 new churches by 2020. Please join us in praying and working toward this end.”

A record pace

The 34 Louisiana Baptist churches on pace to be planted this year are more than four times in number the eight churches planted in 2010.

Lane Corley, one of Louisiana Baptists church planting strategists, attributes the growth to maximum buy-in from associational leaders and more churches getting a heart for multiplication, adding that 21 associations have played a role in the 2020 church planting effort through 2016.

“Churches are realizing that they can’t do it alone,” he said. “We need more churches to saturate our communities with the Gospel across Louisiana.”

Cedric Murphy is in the midst of starting his third congregation, Body of Christ Church in Baker — born not long before the record rains came in August.

Before the flood, Murphy said the surrounding community was difficult to reach, but afterward, they were more receptive — thanks to the church’s disaster relief distribution ministry.

He said this compassion ministry allowed them to be a relevant church in Baker and other nearby areas.

“The exciting thing is I saw God move through a disaster to allow me to minister to people and now all of a sudden my church has grown from inside and also from the outside because there are a lot of other people that have been coming as a result,” said Murphy, who attended the church planting celebration. “I’ve found what God called me to be. It gives me an opportunity to meet a lot of new people, to spread the Gospel to a lot of new groups and I’m just glad to be a Louisiana Baptist church planter.”
This article appeared in the Baptist Message (baptistmessage.com), newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention. Brian Blackwell is a staff writer for the Baptist Message.


New Tenn. church
baptizes 99 in 9 months

By Connie Davis Bushey

SMITHVILLE, Tenn. (Baptist and Reflector) — Nathan Thomason wanted to be pastor of an evangelistic church here. So he started one.

Just nine months later, Outreach Baptist Church, which Thomason planted, has baptized 99 people.

All 99 people were baptized outside in the courtyard of the horseshoe-shaped strip mall which serves as the church’s facility. Thomason uses a portable baptistry.

One evening the courtyard “was full” as 21 adults, teens, and children were baptized, recalled Thomason.

“It was neat. People driving by on the highway could see what God was doing — baptizing right there in the middle of town,” said Thomason.

Smithville residents are familiar with the strip mall where Outreach Baptist meets, he added. It also houses a tax preparation office, cable business, and a nail salon.

Thankfully, the weather recently was still warm so baptisms could continue because another nine people were scheduled to be baptized and people were coming to the Lord every Sunday, said the church planter.

Another good aspect of the outreach of Outreach Baptist is that about 80 of the 99 people baptized are new converts or had neglected to be baptized, Thomason explained.

“We’re very excited about what God’s doing. … I want all the glory to go to God.”

He is surprised by all of this, he said. He thought at this stage in starting a new church in Smithville it would draw about 40-50. Smithville only has about 4,000 residents, he noted.

Yet, the congregation overflows the facility each Sunday morning with about 210 people. During a revival meeting one night Outreach Baptist drew a crowd of 293. Parking has become an issue.

Thomason said one factor in the growth of Outreach Baptist is that he grew up here and so many people know him, he said. He also has been a Dekalb County deputy sheriff and assistant coach for the high school football team where he played.

Additionally, people know him as the son and grandson of Tennessee Baptist pastors — B.J. Thomason, his father, is pastor of New Middleton Baptist Church, Gordonsville, and his grandfather is Bobby Thomason, pastor, Covenant Baptist Church, Smithville. Both churches are located nearby.

People here also know some bad things about him, admitted Thomason. “I didn’t always live for Christ … .” Thankfully, he rededicated his life to Christ at age 22 and at that time accepted God’s call to pastor. Since then he has been a supply preacher, a revival preacher, and pastor of a church in Lebanon for three years.

But he was drawn by God back to Dekalb County, he said.

“Dekalb County is a very dark place,” he reported, adding that he has arrested a lot of folks here. The county has very high suicide rates per capita, many folks taking and addicted to methamphetamine, and many children in the custody of the Department of Children’s Services.

“It looks like Mayberry on the outside, but when you get on the inside, you understand there’s a lot of spiritual darkness here.”

Another factor which drives him is the fact that from the 2010 census, he found that of the 18,000 residents of the county, over 9,000 reported they had no religious affiliation.

“We want Smithville to have revival and we don’t care where it starts and hopefully it spreads to our state and our nation.”

To carry out the evangelistic vision of the church, Outreach has a children’s ministry during every service including AWANA and a bus ministry. Church leaders also visit people in their homes.

The church holds worship three times a week. It doesn’t have Sunday School yet because of the facility but it does hold discipleship training.

Just recently, Outreach Baptist started looking at property to buy.

Besides God, many have been pivotal in making Outreach Baptist what it is, said Thomason. His dad, B.J., is his mentor. Another mentor has been Glenn Denton, pastor, Hillcrest Baptist Church, Lebanon. Hillcrest Baptist agreed to serve as the mother church of Outreach Baptist.

His family, including his wife Ashlee, and the core group of three families who sacrificed to start the church have been used by God, he said. The landlord of the strip mall, a believer, and Lewis McMullen of the Tennessee Baptist Convention staff helped.

A group from a closed church sold church equipment and furniture to Outreach at an amazing price.

The owner of some property, six acres located across the road from their current facility which Outreach hopes to buy, is making it available only to the church.

Finally, the members of Outreach are amazing, “sold out to God” and “unified,” added Thomason.

“We’re just enjoying what the Lord’s doing,” concluded Thomason.
This article appeared in the Baptist and Reflector (http://tnbaptist.org/BRNews.asp), newsjournal of the Tennessee Baptist Convention. Connie Davis Bushey is news editor of the Baptist and Reflector.


EE ‘exploding’
across Oklahoma
By Bob Nigh

OKLAHOMA CITY (The Baptist Messenger) — Mike Napier, personal evangelism specialist with the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, (BGCO) gets a sparkle in his eye whenever he talks about Evangelism Explosion (EE), a 54-year-old gospel-sharing tool that many may have thought had become passé over the years.

Of course, anyone who meets Napier will attest to the fact that he gets excited about sharing his faith, no matter the setting, but he and EE trainer Lester Vogler have taken the comprehensive evangelism strategy developed by D. James Kennedy in 1962 to new heights over the last two years in Oklahoma.

The pair are following 60 churches or ministries which have had representatives either attend, implement or express interest in EE training. Their efforts pinnacled from a launch held at Moore, Regency Park last February, where believers from five Southern Baptist churches attended an Everyday Evangelism Launch (EV2), the first recommended step in the EE training process. Vogler said a church will host what is called an EV2 Launch, “where we involve pastors and his leaders for two, very intensive days of training over 22 hours.” That’s what Regency Park hosted.

In addition to Regency Park, churches represented included Kingfisher, Oak Street; Norman, New Generation and Oklahoma City, Faith Crossing, Shields Boulevard and Olivet. All five of these have implemented training this year. Other churches that have begun or reinstated EE in the past two years include Lawton, Cameron; Oklahoma City Rancho Village, Southern Temple, and Western Ave. Oklahoma City, Southern Hills hosted an Everyday Evangelism Launch Sept. 15-16. Ten representatives from four churches and three BGCO ministries attended this training. Churches represented in addition to Southern Hills were Perkins, Immanuel; Midwest City, Eastwood; and Oklahoma City, Rancho Village and Beverly Hills.

Additionally, Newcastle, First is implementing EE’s Hope For Kids!, and Norman, Alameda and Norman, Hilltop have attended workshops hosted by other churches.

“In the last two years, 17 Southern Baptist churches in Oklahoma have implemented training or participated in workshops,” Napier said. “Oklahoma City, Southern Hills was on board prior to that.”

In addition, EE is active at two Oklahoma correctional institutions — Jess Dunn and William S. Keyes — and a Prison EE Launch was held Sept. 26 at the Baptist Building.

“The training program we primarily use is called Everyday Evangelism, and it has three parts,” Vogler explained. “Part one is the Share Your Faith Workshop, a stand-alone, an interactive, multi-media, one-day workshop designed to help people understand the Gospel and the gospel presentation. Easy-to-learn, Fun-to-Share and Almost-Impossible-to-Forget!

“Part two is the first of two seven-week semesters to train a select group who come out of the Share Your Faith Workshop and gather in a session called Explaining the Gospel.

“Part three is another seven-week semester, which includes about 20 percent of those who attended the first seven-week Explaining the Gospel session, and which is called Mentoring for Multiplication.

“It is in the clinic setting that those leaders are trained to implement the three parts of the Everyday Evangelism program in their local church. It’s very similar to the original Evangelism Explosion Clinics they used to have that lasted five days, but this is just two to two-and-a-half days.”

Lawton, Cameron hosted an EV2 Launch Oct. 13-14.

“And, we are in the process of setting up five others across the state next year, sometime between February and April,” Napier said.

Vogler said the goal of the Everyday Evangelism program essentially is, “To equip the attendees in how to explain and share the Gospel as a way of life.”

Napier said an EE representative will be leading a breakout at the State Evangelism Conference Jan. 30-31 at Del City, First Southern.

“Directors of Missions are excited about EE,” Napier said. “Pastors are excited about it, and want to implement it; they are hungry for evangelism.”

“A lot of pastors I talk to and individuals who are familiar with EE are very excited that we have a training program now that asks for a seven-week commitment for each phase, rather than a 13- or 14-week commitment, which was the old classic training program,” Vogler added. “It’s a lot easier on people, who have a hard time making that longer commitment of time in today’s culture.

To find more information and keep updated with Evangelism Explosion visit https://store.evangelismexplosion.org/t-events.aspx
This article appeared in The Baptist Messenger (baptistmessenger.com), newsjournal of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. Bob Nigh is managing editor of The Baptist Messenger.


EDITOR’S NOTE: From the States, published each Tuesday by Baptist Press, relays news and feature stories from state Baptist papers and other publications on initiatives by Baptist churches, associations and state conventions in evangelism, church planting and Great Commission outreach, including partnership missions. Reports about churches, associations and state conventions responding to the International Mission Board’s call to embrace the world’s unengaged, unreached people groups also are included in From the States, along with reports about church, associational and state convention initiatives in conjunction with the North American Mission Board’s call to Southern Baptist churches to broaden their efforts in starting new churches and satellite campuses. The items appear in Baptist Press as originally published.

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