SBC DIGEST: ‘Churches helping churches’ affected by Ida; Lifeway’s digital worship tools; Smith called to Family Church

Churches, pastors seek help in recovery from Hurricane Ida

By Baptist Message Staff

ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP) – State Baptist convention leaders are asking Louisiana Baptists as well as the larger Southern Baptist family to pray for and partner with congregations who have been devastated by Hurricane Ida.

The storm wreaked havoc in New Orleans but also caused severe damage in Houma, Thibodaux, Cut Off, South Lafourche, Larose, Laplace and many more small communities. Just among Louisiana Baptists, 91 churches were seriously affected, with 22 experiencing catastrophic losses. At least 85 pastors are facing significant personal property replacement costs for cars, homes and belongings, according to Louisiana Baptist Disaster Relief reports.

Steve Horn, Louisiana Baptist Convention executive director, told the Baptist Message that these churches and pastors “have a tough path ahead.”

“Some of these churches do not have the resources to carry wind and hail coverage on their property because it is so expensive near the coastal areas,” he said. “Therefore, they don’t have insurance funds to repair and restore their churches.” Horn added that many of these churches and pastors are still ministering to and assisting others even as they are recovering.

He called on individuals and congregations “to be the hands and feet of Jesus” by helping “with financial assistance, cleaning supplies, building materials and so much more.”

“They also need people who will take the time to travel and work hand in hand with them to rebuild what was lost,” he said. “Along the way, we can love on, encourage and share the Gospel with their friends and neighbors who need our help right now, too.”

Horn referred interested individuals and congregations to two websites:

  • Churches wishing to be matched with one or more of the 91 churches having serious losses can register here.
  • To offer general financial assistance for the ongoing disaster relief operations, go here.

“In either case, please join us in prayer as we ask God to use this opportunity to bring revival to Louisiana and beyond,” Horn urged.


Digital worship tools offer flexibility to churches

By Aaron Wilson

NASHVILLE (BP) – When Dean Belton began serving as a worship leader at a small South Mississippi church, he was excited for the role but nervous about the lack of resources that greeted him in the congregation of around 150 members. There weren’t many musicians at the church, and the few volunteers he did have said they weren’t comfortable playing songs they were unfamiliar with.

“I was lost and didn’t know where to begin,” Belton said. “One of my first thoughts was to give Lifeway Christian Resources a call. I simply told them, ‘This is where I am. This is what I have. What can I do?’”

Belton said one of the biggest game changers was discovering LifewayWorship.com, a tool that allowed him to supplement the specific music and voices he needed for leading worship.

“It worked so well and helped the congregation adapt to new styles and songs,” Belton said. “It really changed the way our church did worship.”

Worship during and after a pandemic

Belton’s experience working with limited resources is a common dilemma for many worship pastors who are often asked to make much out of little. This has become a heightened issue during the pandemic when worship volunteers and resources are stretched thin due to quarantines and other precautions.

Add to this the challenge that leaders are also finding their musicians and singers out of practice due to an extended season of virtual services in which some churches chose to livestream only the sermon. This is a situation in which digital resources can serve worship leaders, says Kenny Lamm, senior consultant for the worship and music team at the North Carolina Baptist State Convention.

“I work with churches that have limited musician resources – from having no one to play any instruments to churches striving to have a worship band but are missing some key instruments,” said Lamm. “LifewayWorship.com has the solution for both situations from having backing tracks that can be used in worship – supplying all the needed instruments – to multi-tracks to fill in missing instruments in a live situation. Being able to purchase and download music a la carte allows worship leaders to buy only what they need, making it an affordable resource for churches.”

Solutions for moving forward

Because every church’s worship needs are different, Lifeway Worship aims for flexibility in its pick-and-choose digital options and is committed to bolstering its online library, which offers around 5,000 titles and is one of the largest downloadable Christian song catalogs available today.

“Lifeway Worship is developing more digital music content right now than at any time in our history to meet the unique needs of churches during this unusual season of ministry,” said Brian Brown, Lifeway Worship director. “We continue to release new song resources at LifewayWorship.com specifically designed for praise teams and praise bands.”

Brown said Lifeway Worship is also releasing more digital music for choirs in 2022, including a new digital choral collection and several new digital anthems for choirs. Lifeway also has Easter 2022 musicals and anthems scheduled for release and a new Christmas musical from Phil Barfoot on the way. Additionally, LifewayWorship.com also offers more than 200 Spanish-language songs, making it one of the most extensive digital music resources for Hispanic congregations.

“As churches chart what’s next in their music ministries, they are recognizing the flexibility that digital music resources provide,” Brown said. “Our goal is to come alongside these churches as they move into this new season with a wide variety of digital content for ministries of every size.

“Over the next year, we will be meeting with church music leaders across the country to learn more about the challenges they are facing, so we can continue to design the types of trustworthy training and content they need to fuel their music ministries.”

More information can be found at LifewayWorship.com.


Kevin Smith joins Family Church in West Palm Beach

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (BP) – After conducting a nationwide search, Family Church announced that Pastor Kevin Smith will be joining its team as the pastor for Family Church Village in West Palm Beach. He will serve simultaneously as a teaching pastor for the 13-campus Family Church Network.

Smith has been the lead pastor of churches in Tennessee and Kentucky. He has studied at Hampton University, the Church of God Theological Seminary, and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, subsequently serving on Southern Seminary’s faculty for more than a decade. Smith has held executive leadership positions within the Kentucky and Maryland/Delaware Baptist state conventions and has played a key role in leading pastors and churches to evangelism, growth and unity.

“Kevin Smith is a strong, innovative, and influential leader who is going to help advance the gospel in South Florida and beyond,” said Jimmy Scroggins, the lead pastor of the Family Church Network. “I am thrilled that Kevin is joining our team at this strategic time and he is going to expand our church’s ability to speak to every person in every neighborhood in South Florida.”

Smith said: “I have loved serving in denominational work, but I have missed pastoring and leading in the neighborhood church. I am particularly excited about joining my friend, Jimmy Scroggins, to help build families in South Florida.”

Kevin Smith and his wife Patricia (Pat) have three adult children. He announced his departure from the Baptist Convention of Maryland-Delaware Sept. 14.

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