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KENTUCKY BAPTISTS LOOKING FOR PASTORS IN PEWS

Men searching their hearts to fill pulpits in Kentucky Baptist churches

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KBC East Region consultant Jason Lowe leads the last of six Practical Preaching workshops at Allen Baptist Church in Prestonsburg.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (KT) – Could the next great Kentucky Baptist preacher be sitting in the pew beside you?

Only the Lord knows, of course, but more and more men are being encouraged to search their hearts to fill some of the empty pulpits throughout the state. Whether it is a fulltime calling or a bivocational role, men are stepping up.

The Kentucky Baptist Convention’s initiatives such as Calling Out the CalledCall to Ministry workshops and the recently completed Practical Preaching workshop seem to be taking root, said Steve Rice, the KBC Church Consulting & Revitalization team leader.

The preaching workshop drew 265 combined to the six locations. Seventy-five percent of those who attended asked for more.

“We are thrilled and believe that the emphasis has been a success,” Rice said. “I think the key is we started slowly but intentionally with prayer, which is the biblical principle. We started there and set out regular prayer updates to our prayer group. I continue to send them updates, sometimes things to celebrate and sometimes specific prayer requests.”

Jason Lowe, the East Region consultant for the KBC, has spearheaded the sessions. He also said it was prayer that made the difference.

“We have prayer partners to be praying for this for about two years,” he said. “I have no doubt that this is the fruit of some of those prayers.”

Some of the men who attended the Practical Preaching Workshop were current pastors. Lowe said they told him that they learned a lot from the session as well.

Lowe has been involved from the start, serving as the chair of the workgroup for Calling Out the Called two years ago. He said about 70 came to the Call to Ministry Workshop last fall. The 265 attending the Practical Preaching Workshop was an encouragement to him.

“It is confirmation that, yes, the Lord is still calling men to serve as pastors and some of them are sitting in pews of Kentucky Baptist churches now,” he said. “The Calling Out the Called helped pastors to do exactly that – call out the called.”

There is evidence that more men are being called into ministry in the Ohio County Baptist Association in west Kentucky. Matthew Sickling, the associational mission strategist, said he has attended three minister ordinations and at least three others have accepted the call on their lives in the past year.

“I’m excited to see God is still calling men,” he said. “It has been kind of neat this is taking place after the Calling Out the Called emphasis.”

Sickling said they hosted a Calling Out the Called meeting last fall and six men attended. The need for bivocational pastors is great in the Ohio County association, he said.

“We had several churches that were open and a couple of those have been filled,” he said.

Sickling, who has been the AMS since 2012, started a seminary extension class to equip bivocational pastors who did not have a biblical background or even a college degree. Andy McGowan, Sickling and a few other pastors in the association provided that training leadership. Barnas Creek Baptist Church and Ridgecrest Baptist had pastors who took the courses and benefited from the training, he said.

Rice said it was critical to equip the bivocational pastors in the rural areas.

“You’re not going to move across the state to leave a job and have to take another job,” he said. “This was a three-year initiative but from the beginning, Dr. (Todd) Gray and I talked privately that this is an initiative that will never end. There’s always going to be a need for Him to raise up workers. The hope was that we could create some kind of movement and language.”

Church leaders and AMS across the state are aware of what Calling Out the Called means and the value it has brought to Kentucky Baptist churches. KBC leaders are looking at what’s next.

“Our desire is to see what the need is,” Lowe said.

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