Founded in 1718, New Orleans quickly became an important port city and attracted people from around the world. Today it is known as the birthplace of jazz and is famous for its incomparable cuisine. From Bourbon Street to the Botanical Gardens, attractions to the city run the gamut. Extremes are the norm here, and it’s evident in conversations, attire and neighborhoods.
Decadence and indulgence have long been associated with this city, and a decade ago, most pastors viewed New Orleans as a graveyard for Southern Baptist church plants. Spiritual warfare permeated the city. Many people considered themselves religious—even Christian—despite having little understanding of the gospel. Evangelical churches didn’t die here; they couldn’t even get off the ground.
In 2005, Hurricane Katrina changed everything. No other U.S. city lost more people between 2000 and 2009. At the same time, no U.S. city has had a greater percentage of new people move into it. The city has seen an influx of young Americans who are determined to help with the recovery and rebuilding of the region and give “The Big Easy” a new identity. This change in the atmosphere has opened the door to new and exciting opportunities for church planting.
The city has long been on the hearts of Southern Baptists. At the founding of the convention in 1845, Southern Baptists started their Board of Domestic Missions (now NAMB) in part to reach the city of New Orleans. But despite the long-term presence of Southern Baptists in the area, New Orleans has only one Southern Baptist church for every 7,252 people. That’s four times higher than many state conventions in the South. Evangelical adherents make up only 11.6 percent of the population.
Local followers of Jesus Christ believe they are standing on the cusp of a spiritual renaissance in the city. We hope to see more people join the movement to find practical ways to meet needs and connect with communities.
From planting a church to partnering with those already on mission in New Orleans, you and your church can make a difference; connect with us to learn how.
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