In the book, “In Praise of a God Who Saves: 110 Stories of Everyday Evangelism,” Southwestern Seminary student Amy Carlson is quoted as saying, “The teenagers in today’s society will rule the world in the near future. They are our future presidents, doctors, soldiers and teachers. If no one shares the gospel with them, this world will be plunged into darkness.” It has been an accepted truism, substantiated by Barna Research in a 2004 article, that two-thirds of all born again believers made that commitment to Christ before their 18th birthday.
Brodhead Baptist Church, under the leadership of pastor Ralph Baker, makes certain they are reaching out to children and teenagers with the gospel.
Brodhead Baptist, part of the Rockcastle Baptist Association, averages around 340 people in worship attendance, which has more than doubled since Bro. Ralph became pastor. Brodhead baptized 28 people in 2017, which is an evangelistically healthy ratio of one baptism per every 12 church attenders. Over half of those baptisms were of children under the age of 18. While it averages over 300 in Sunday morning worship, its most recent Vacation Bible School recorded a registration of 348.
When asked how the church measures evangelistic success, Baker says, “Fifty new members being added to the church is a good year, which has been the case for approximately 15 years with 35 of those being from baptisms.” For Bro. Ralph, another measure of success recently was going 13 months with having first time visitors in the service every Sunday morning. Baker says, “The church is good at inviting people, and if they come to church, then there are six to eight people who will witness to those who come.”
Part of Brodhead’s success for reaching children and teenagers comes as a result of Bro. Ralph and several of the members being involved in the local school system. These classroom educators have a heart for kids and especially look forward to Vacation Bible School every year. They treat it like a summer evangelistic mission experience. He says, “They are bold witnesses and work hard during VBS.”
He also works hard to assure children who attend their events are hearing the gospel and that they are not being led into what he calls an “easy-believism.” When asked about some of the most evangelistic members of the church he mentions a couple of retired school teachers who witness regularly and are highly visible in the community.
Evangelistic churches are led by evangelistic pastors and Brodhead Baptist is no different. Bro. Ralph keeps evangelism before the church members by talking about it in every service. He says, “For 15 years, in every service, I talk about two things: lost people need to be saved – and for that to happen, Christians have to open their mouth and tell them how.”
According to Randy McPheron, associational missions strategist of Rockcastle Baptist Association, “He not only talks the talk, but he also walks the walk.” McPheron says, “Ralph is a champion for souls in Rockcastle County. I know of no other pastor whose heart burns to see lost people saved any more than that of Ralph Baker.”
I asked Bro. Ralph about the challenges of leading an evangelistic church. He said, “Making evangelism a personal priority for the members of the church is the biggest challenge.” He is highly evangelistic and expects the members of Brodhead Baptist to be as well. Baker tries to witness every day. He works in the school system and always has a 500-person mission field before him. He attends local sporting events, visits in the community, serves as a chaplain for Dirt Racing Outreach for Lucas Oil Late
Model Dirt Series and looks for open doors to share the good news of the cross and the resurrection of Jesus.
All pastors and churches have something to offer their community. For Baker and Brodhead Baptist, one way they bless their community is by having a heart that wants to see children become
followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. Bro. Ralph and Brodhead Baptist are going the distance to reach their community—including the children and teenagers—with the gospel.
Todd Gray is team leader of KBC Evangelism, Church Planting and Collegiate Ministries.