There is a ministry team in the East Region that all Kentucky Baptists need to hear about. It is a father and son duo.
Paul Schmidt is pastor of First Baptist Church of Grayson, and his son, Sam, is pastor of First Baptist Church of Inez. Both father and son are experiencing a time of church renewal in a region that has experienced population decline during the past decade.
The story behind these two ministries is interesting, considering the fact that Paul is not only Sam’s father, but Paul is a former pastor of the Inez congregation where Sam now serves. Paul was pastor at Inez for 16 years, from 1993-2009, and was extremely involved in the community. He worked for the local school board and coached an area football team for a couple of years.
Proverbs 22:6 states, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Paul, obviously, has obeyed this Scripture.
As a godly father, Paul led Sam to the Lord, and he began teaching him to do all that the Lord commanded. The result is that Sam has not strayed from the biblical teaching of his father.
It has been said, “A call to preach the gospel is also a call to prepare to preach the gospel.” Sam clearly understood this principle.
Sam enrolled at Clear Creek Bible College in Pineville. While attending, he met the love of his life, Andrea Fox, who is the daughter of Donnie Fox, Clear Creek’s president.
Sam went on to earn a master’s degree at Campbellsville University, and now plans to work on a master of divinity degree at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.
Both Sam and Paul are in the midst of experiencing the problem of “the 80 percent rule.” A church experiences the 80 percent rule when worship attendance reaches 80 percent of available space. When a church is 80 percent full, according to growth experts, the church needs to look for options to make more room available. Paul and Sam are considering either building, starting additional services, or both.
This father and son duo works well together. Paul recently preached at a homecoming service for Sam, and they witnessed six professions of faith and saw a banner attendance. “There were people everywhere!” Paul said.
In turn, Sam was invited to lead a revival at First Baptist Church of Grayson, in which the church experienced seven professions of faith.
How did he experience such success? “Visit, witness, work and pray,” Paul replied. “There is no excuse for a church not to grow,” he added.
Reflecting on his ministry in Inez, Paul stated, “After being there for several years, it was determined if we are going to reach our region for Christ, we had to understand the culture that surrounded us.”
He began to use Elmer Towns’ philosophy of ministry: “Using culture to win the culture.” The church, following Paul’s spiritual leadership, made the necessary changes for growth.
Paul also has implemented the same philosophy of ministry at First Baptist Church of Grayson. His goal is to use the culture to help his church reach the Carter County community. The worship center is full, Bible study groups are growing, and the congregation is encouraged.
Much more could be said about this dynamic duo. One could talk about what has been purchased, what has been constructed, and what is being planned.
However, the key to their ministries is not found in buildings or lands. The key to their ministry success is found in relationships—their relationships with the Lord and with others.
Kentucky pastors could learn a valuable lesson from these two godly men about the importance of relationships in building thriving worship communities.
As one pastor has observed, “People are not interested in how cool or knowledgeable we are. People are interested in the time we invest in them. If you want to give your congregations something special, give them yourself.”
Paul and Sam have truly invested themselves in the people of their congregations, which in turn has renewed their churches and enhanced the kingdom of God. (WR)
Paul Badgett, Regional Consultant, East Region