If state conventions went away, would we miss them? That question might sound strange coming from an executive director of a state convention. Nevertheless, I think it is a fair and helpful question that I like to ask from time to time.
Might I propose some answers? Before I do, keep in mind that, like local churches, churches from each state set their state convention’s agenda and priorities and determine their own way of doing business. Each convention is unique and operates in a distinct geographical, cultural and spiritual context. Effectiveness demands that they look and operate differently.
Who would miss the Kentucky Baptist Convention? Tens of thousands of college students. The KBC employs Baptist campus missionaries and maintains ministry centers on college and university campuses across the state, resulting in hundreds of college students giving their lives to Christ this past year.
Thousands of teenagers would miss the KBC. Through mission opportunities like Kentucky Changers and the camp ministries of Crossings, teens hear the gospel and live it out on mission. Hundreds of teens have already committed their lives to Christ this summer through Crossings alone.
Churches without pastors would miss the KBC. KBC staff members often fill their pulpits as supply preachers and interim pastors and assist with the pastor search process through training search committees and, upon request, providing resumes of potential candidates.
Churches looking for help reaching Kentucky and the world for Christ would miss the KBC. KBC staff members provide consulting, training, resources and networking opportunities to help churches in a wide array of areas like revitalization, evangelism and missions strategies, and church planting.
Hurting people would miss the KBC. KBC Disaster Relief trains and equips volunteers to respond immediately to the needs of people in disaster stricken areas. Those volunteers serve thousands of meals, remove fallen trees, shovel mud, provide clean water, a hot shower, and a clothes washer.
Ethnic peoples and refugees in Kentucky would miss the KBC. KBC missionaries minister to those who find themselves strangers in a strange land. They provide ESL classes, a gospel witness, discipleship training, and church plants. KBC also partners with ministries like Refuge Louisville to touch the lives of refugees in Kentucky and with Baptist Global Response to help Kentucky Baptists do the same all around the globe.
The homeless would miss the KBC. Shelters like Louisville Rescue Mission receive financial support from the KBC as well as volunteer involvement that is often facilitated by the KBC.
This list goes on, so let me just say that I believe the Kingdom would miss the KBC. If I didn’t, I would work somewhere else.
Some might ask, “Couldn’t individual churches provide many of the ministries accomplished through the KBC?” My response is that individual churches are already providing these ministries … cooperatively through the KBC and, of course, on their own. The KBC is an extension of the local church and allows the local church to do more by partnering with 2,400 other churches. Much more.
Paul Chitwood is the Executive Director-Treasurer of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.