When Generosity Floods: The Bayou Church Story

Are you ready for a flood? Are you praying for a flood? Are you anticipating a flood? A flood can be devastating, transformative, or a combination of both. Imagine waking up one Sunday morning to learn that torrential rains, road closings, and a local natural disaster in the making are potentially washing your big day away. This was the story of Mike Walker, the Senior Pastor of The Bayou Church.

My first text read, “Attendance was unbelievably low, so were all the other churches I have spoken with…hammered bad.”

Now let me back up and provide some context. The Bayou Church is in Lafayette, LA. Right in the middle of oil country, which has experienced months of financial challenges. While the rest of the country has enjoyed dropping gas prices, long-standing oil communities have been enduring catastrophic loss of income. Year to date, The Bayou Church was experiencing a giving drop of 11%. Imagine losing those resources and the effect it can have immediately on your ministry.

However big this loss may appear to a church leader, it could not overshadow the pain of the loss of local jobs. Individuals and families were hurting, so a strategy was put in place to focus the resources to not compromise the Mission, and also to not ignore the devastation on individuals or families. It was decided, “The Big Give” (a designated offering to five local non-profits serving the hurting in the city) would occur. A multi-month plan was put into place to reframe the church’s resources solely focused on the Mission, create a pathway for individuals to grow in generosity, and to deliver big resources to the points of need in the community.

Then, my next text read, “Here are some early totals…The Big Give $105,000 WOW (designated gifts) plus $41,000 undesignated receipts…so approximately $146,000 day…wow, that is really Courageous Generosity…and when you factor in the attendance was less than half the normal attendance (due to torrential rain and flooding)…Glory To God Amazing!”

Then, my third text arrived, “Todd, just sent the Trustees…Love giving updates on The Big Give. Total on Wednesday afternoon–$151,300. Plus I have 2 verbal’s from strong members that their checks will add to $14,000. That means we’ll have a minimum of $165,000 to build points of light in Acadiana and Transform Lives!!!!!!”

Next, an email update would read, “The Big Give has shown us that we have a big God that has blown us all away with Courageous Generosity. I am still shaking my head in disbelief at what God has done through our people giving $170,000 total to Big Give…Oh don’t forget on top of all that Big Give money, the hearts of The Bayou Church people on Sunday were moved mightily by God. Our budget offering was Spectacular–General Budget $114,000!! To God Be All The Glory!!! Like we have said this is God’s economy.”

The Bayou Church finance office sent us this official bit of perspective of what they saw during the Courageous Generosity Series:

  • Family giving units increased by 40.
  • Monthly contributions to the budget increased by $19,300.
  • Contributions to the budget during and after the series averaged 12% more than the same period in 2015.
  • Giving units during the series averaged 15% more than the same period in 2015.
  • Contributions to the budget on May 8, 2016 totaled $114,000, the 15th highest contribution Sunday in Bayou history! That is amazing, considering an additional $170,000 was donated to The Big Give.

So what were some keys to this flood of generosity?

1. You will experience a flood of generosity when you have a clearly statedMission that is more important than your circumstances. The Bayou Church’sMission is to “transform lives in Acadiana through Christ centered relationships.”This Missional Mandate is not measured in money or stopped by physical experiences.

2. You will experience a flood of generosity when you have an inspiring view from the Mountaintop. The Bayou Church has a 10-year Vision in which they will “permeate Acadiana with Christ centered relationships, making this a reality by having a point of light in every neighborhood.” It began by resourcing the community, building bridges for ministry.

3. You will experience a flood of generosity when you have clear Milestones to drive your team, holding all your resources accountable for success. The Bayou Church had determined that by the end of 2016 they would experience “500 families giving generously.” This is so specific that they will know if they succeed.

4. You will experience a flood of generosity when you deliver a path of growth helping your people Measure their steps toward the spiritual discipline of personal generosity. The Bayou Church has a Measure in their Vision Frame that states: “Do I practice generous giving?” This Measure called forth a path of five steps of growth from a Beginning Giver to an Extravagant Giver in order to live Courageous Generosity culminating in The Big Give.

The final text I received sums it up so well, “Almost weeping at the power and glory and awesomeness of God. Wow!”

To learn more about The Big Give:

The Big Give video

Article by the Louisiana Baptist Message

Download The Bayou Church’s Vision Frame

> Read more from Todd

Learn more about generosity for your church. Connect with an Auxano Navigator and start a conversation with our team.

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Todd McMichen

Todd McMichen has served for over 30 years in a variety of roles in the local church, doing everything from planting churches to lead pastor. While on staff he conducted two major capital campaigns helping to guide his local churches through sizable relocation projects. Those two churches alone raised over $35,000,000. Since 2000, Todd has been a well-established stewardship and generosity campaign coach, as well as a conference leader and speaker. Todd is a graduate of Palm Beach Atlantic College in West Palm Beach, FL and Southwestern Seminary in Ft. Worth, TX. He lives in Birmingham, AL with his wife Theresa, and their two kids, Riley and Breanna. You can contact Todd at todd@auxano.com or 205-223-7803.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
— Glenna Hendricks
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
— winston
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
— Russ Wright

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