Followers of Jesus need to celebrate God’s great work every time we can. One way we do that in Kentucky Baptist churches is through baptism.
Baptism is the public profession of faith made by an individual who has turned to Jesus from sin and is trusting Him for forgiveness and new life. Baptism is going public as a follower of Christ. Baptism says to the watching world that one is all in with Jesus and there is no turning back.
In 2018, Kentucky Baptist churches baptized 11,230 individuals. We rejoice for each baptism as it represents an individual, made in the image of God, who has crossed over from spiritual death into spiritual life.
In 2019, Kentucky Baptist churches reported a slight increase in baptisms. Through the Annual Church Profile, Kentucky Baptist churches recorded 11,338 people followed Jesus in believer’s baptism. Also, there were 309 people who were baptized last year in one of the 40-or-so Kentucky Baptist church plants.
One of those baptized was a man I recently met who I will call Bill. Bill was introduced to me by the Kentucky Baptist associational leader who shared Jesus with him the day he finally believed. Others had prayed for him, witnessed to him and preached to him— but he wasn’t ready to turn to Jesus until late in 2019.
To say that Bill lived a reckless life for most the 60-plus years before he was saved is an understatement. He has done some things of which he is now ashamed and of which he has paid a great price. However, today he is a new creature in Christ, married to his longtime girlfriend and a baptized member of a country Baptist church in his community. I was able to rejoice with him over the new life he has experienced in Christ and encourage him in his efforts to tell others the great things God has done for him.
What can Kentucky Baptist churches and their leaders do to see more like this new brother come to faith in Christ?
Here are a few suggestions:
1. Train church members in personal evangelism.
Church members who are trained to share the gospel are more likely to share Christ than those who have not been recently trained. When believers are trained in personal evangelism, they will be encouraged to pray for lost people, show compassion to lost people and share the gospel with lost people. Your KBC Evangelism Team, or your local Baptist association, stands ready to help you with personal evangelism training.
2. Pray for lost people by name.
When saved people start praying fervently and consistently for lost people, then many lost people will become saved people. Many Kentucky Baptist churches are organizing to pray for lost people through a resource called, “Who’s Your One?” I was in two Kentucky Baptist churches on one Sunday which both had a “Who’s Your One?” display at the front of the sanctuary with the first names, or initials, of those for whom they are praying.
3. Go into your community to meet your neighbors and share the gospel.
We are seeing a resurgence in Kentucky Baptist churches where many of our young pastors are discovering “front door evangelism.” They are realizing that many people in our cities and out in the counties, in small towns and larger ones, are very open to hearing the gospel at their front door.
4. Preach evangelistic sermons and give a clear invitation.
What a great blessing it is when church members hear their pastor preaching the gospel with clarity and passion and then see their pastor urge lost sinners to come to Jesus and be saved. Those members will be encouraged to invite their unsaved friends and family members to attend church services with them.
While there is more that a church and its leaders can do to lead out in evangelism, this partial list is a good starting place. My daily prayer for 2,360 Kentucky Baptist churches is that our best days of Spirit-filled, soul-winning ministry can be out in front of us and not behind us. Please join me in that prayer and let’s rejoice together every time God brings new life to a lost sinner in one of our Kentucky Baptist churches.
Todd Gray is executive director-treasurer of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.