I am pleased to update you on our cooperative mission work, particularly as we look back over the past year. Foremost, totals from the most recent Annual Church Profile give us much cause for celebration.
In three key categories, KBC churches continued to see increases for a second straight year. Baptisms are up over the year before, totaling 14,460. Total church membership is also up, as is Cooperative Program giving. Another vital statistic is participation in volunteer mission trips and projects. That number is up, with a total of 105,415 Kentucky Baptists involved in mission work.
As we embraced our new mission statement four years ago, one of the things I stressed to our staff was the need to get out of the building and into the churches. A convention created by churches for churches to help churches had better employ people who are ready to call on churches.
To that end, your KBC staff members drove more than 520,000 ministry miles last year, up from 465,000 in 2014. Those miles were, for the most part, en route to visit churches, their pastors and staff, and associational missionaries. I always like to put the distance driven by our team members in perspective, so I’ll add that 520,000 miles circles the globe 21 times or, to bring it closer to home, you could make the trip from Pikeville to Paducah 1,300 times.
As to the ministry accomplished while traveling all those miles, here is a brief synopsis:
— Your Mission Board staff members preached and spoke more than 1,000 times.
— We made approximately 10,000 presentations and consultations with Kentucky Baptist pastors, associations, and congregations regarding topics ranging from evangelism training, developing a missions strategy, worship trends, managing church conflict, pastor search team training, utilizing technology in the church, church security issues, and the list goes on and on.
— Ministry events overseen by Mission Board staff and Kentucky missionaries yielded more than 2,500 professions of faith.
— We helped churches start 25 new churches and currently have more than 50 church plants in the three-year funding launch phase.
— To help churches engage the generation of Kentuckians between the ages of 12 and 24, KBC campus missionaries have helped establish 44 teams across the state. These teams, called Twelve24 Teams, are currently engaging 40 middle schools, 59 high schools, and 18 college campuses.
— KBC staff members created 116 news releases, 67 videos, sent thousands of tweets and more than 1,000 Facebook posts.
— In November, we launched our online news site, Kentucky Today, as a complement to the ministry of our Baptist newspaper, the Western Recorder. Kentucky Today has delivered literally thousands of state, national, and world news stories to Kentucky Baptists at no charge, and has provided news and features from throughout the KBC and SBC. Kentucky Today is a tool we created with two overarching goals in mind: to ensure Kentucky Baptists are well informed so that they can better engage our culture, and to strengthen the sense of community among Kentucky Baptists.
Kentucky Baptists still believe in working together, as is evidenced by the fact that CP is at its highest point, year-to-date, than it has been in the past five years. In fact, for the current fiscal year, churches are giving 5 percent above the budget. As I complete my fifth year as your executive director, I celebrate God’s faithfulness and the faithfulness of our pastors and churches to reaching Kentucky and the world for Christ.