• Ben Shenk

Mission-Aligned Partnership Helps Empower Local Churches and Pastors

Updated: Sep 3, 2019

Evangelism: Easier Said Than Done

“The Church is called to be Christ’s body. To preach, teach, and to share the Gospel in both word and deed. Yet while it is easy to say from the pulpit, and to hear from the pews on a Sunday morning, it’s a hard thing for the Church to put into practice come Monday.” Explains Reverend Chuck Morse, Executive Director of Thrive New Orleans. Chuck also serves as Associate Minister at Pleasant Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church, and as a Professor at Union Baptist Seminary.

Expanding, Chuck comments, “Just like with any sort of real teaching, creating a change in someone’s behavior, habits, and life is no easy task. It takes commitment, consistency, and a great deal of education and support to deeply affect someone’s behavior.”

Yet across the globe, that is what churches and ministers are called to do, and what they strive toward.

New Orleans’ local Baptist Pastors, Reverends, and Ministers are no exception. But for many of the local Baptist Ministers, the weight and challenge to provide the necessary resources and equipping for their congregations to embrace the Gospel and express it outwardly through both words and deeds are more than their church’s leadership can provide on its own.

“Unlike other denominations, African American Baptist Churches operate autonomously. It’s great in many ways but doesn’t provide the churches with the same networks of resources and support as other denominations. This means that everything falls on the shoulders of the individual church leaders, which can be a heavy yoke to bear. Essentially, that’s why the Evangelical Board exists to assist individual church evangelism.” Morse points out.

Coming Together to Equip The Church

The First District Missionary Baptist Evangelical Board, the oldest African American Evangelical Board in New Orleans, provides support, encouragement, and programming to empower local churches and congregants in their evangelism efforts. The Board partners with churches to host regular revivals, and provides educational and discipleship resources to help supplement the small evangelical teams across the city.

One of their widest reaching events is their annual conference, during which pastors and congregation members from across the entire city gather for intensive training around evangelism efforts, with multiple sessions and breakouts. But for an event this big there comes some difficulties, namely: where can it be held that can accommodate so many people for the different types of sessions, affordably?

That was the case for the Board over the past year while they were planning for the conference. Luckily, Thrive 9th Ward was able to step in to help.

A Natural Partnership

“We first heard about it because of Chuck’s involvement with the Board, and as soon as he mentioned the conference, I knew it was going to be a perfect fit for the center.” Said Oscar Brown, Director of Thrive 9th Ward. “We’ve been working with pastors from around the neighborhood for a while now, making sure they know the space is available for them, so it was a natural extension of that connection, and it fits the heart of our mission.”

After months of planning and coordination, the conference was held this past August at Thrive 9th Ward, bringing together over 40 pastors and 70 congregation members from across the city to receive encouragement and evangelical training.

After the conference, Morse commented that “A lot of the pastors have the zeal to raise up their Churches to evangelize, but real life happens every day as a pastor, and the capacity isn’t always there. That’s why spaces like the conference are so important. They bring the churches together, and give them the resources and tools needed to spread the gospel.”

“We were grateful as a staff to be able to offer our space for a group like this. It’s how we approach community development and programs.” said Brown. “We aren’t fighting over who gets to do what, but instead we look at what gifts and assets the people and organizations around us have to offer, and do our best to equip and empower them to be their best by using our staff’s gifts and the space we’re blessed with.”

Thrive 9th Ward continues to regularly host pastoral meetups, and engages with local churches, organizations, and community partners in this same way: working together to restore hope, provide space, and create opportunities for the upper 9th ward to thrive.



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