Kentucky Baptists seek to reverse decline in baptisms
The Kentucky Baptist Convention evangelism team, in cooperation with Kentucky Baptist associations and associational mission strategists, recently completed a 14-stop training tour to equip, encourage and inspire Kentucky Baptists to utilize the North American Mission Board’s evangelism mobilization resource known as “Who’s Your One?” The training saw attendance exceed registration at nearly every stop with nearly 400 Kentucky Baptist leaders trained to use this new tool. “Who’s Your One?” is just one way that Kentucky Baptists are seeking to reverse the national decline in baptisms in Southern Baptist churches.
“Who’s Your One?” has been a big hit in the state. Andrew Dyer, pastor of Corinth Baptist Church in London, posted on Twitter, “I have struggled for eight years finding an evangelism strategy that our people would latch onto.” Dyer mentioned several different approaches to personal evangelism that had not connected well with the people of the London congregation until he tried “Who’s Your One.”
He said, “We started our emphasis a month ago and had our largest crowd in 10 years on Sunday and I had so many people excitedly tell me ‘my one came today!'” Dyer is not alone. I am hearing weekly, sometimes daily, from Kentucky Baptist pastors who are seeing similar results after leading the congregation in “Who’s Your One?” training. Pastors are sharing stories by text, phone, social media and in person that people are reporting their “one” being in a service and in several cases the “one” has been saved and baptized.
Dr. Johnny Hunt, senior vice president of evangelism and leadership for the North American Mission Board, says: “You may just reach one, but the one you reach may reach thousands!”
Many Kentucky Baptists are familiar with an evangelistic crusade that was organized by a group of concerned laymen who wanted to see their community impacted by the gospel. The venue was reserved, the evangelist was secured and much preparation was involved in getting ready for this event. One night after the sermon and the invitation was offered, two high school boys came to the front. One of the boys dedicated his life to Christian service and the other received Jesus. The year was 1934. The evangelist was Kentucky native Mordecai Ham. The one who surrendered to ministry was Grady Wilson and the young man who was saved was none other than Billy Graham. One additional interesting fact is that one of the men who organized the crusade was W. F. Graham, Billy’s father. There is little doubt if someone had asked the elder Graham, prior to this crusade, “Who’s your one?” he would have likely listed his young son Billy. This is the way God works.
We may witness God work in similar ways as we obey Him to identify, pray for, seek to evangelize and invite our “one” to church. A brief survey of the New Testament will reveal a list of “ones” who came to faith in Christ. In Acts 16 there is Lydia, then the demon possessed slave girl, followed by the Philippian jailer. God takes delight in saving people and people are saved one person at a time.
So, who is your one? Who is the one person you would identify and commit to praying for, inviting to a church ser-vice and sharing the good news of the death and resurrection of Christ? Would you commit to praying for and reaching out with the gospel to your “one?” Who knows what God might do through your efforts?
Todd Gray is team leader of KBC Evangelism, Church Planting and Collegiate ministries.