CANNONSBURG, Ky. (KT) – A couple of weeks ago, Bobby Ekers, the pastor of a new church plant in northeastern Kentucky, was driving home with his daughter following a Sunday morning service after 14 gave their lives to Jesus.
“You’ll never see a day like this again,’’ he told her.
A week later, nine more gave their lives to Jesus.
“It’s crazy. That was 23 salvations in two weeks,” he said. “You can’t call it a revival, it’s just got to happen. I just preached John 3:16 and the Holy Spirit did the rest.”
Ekers has been keeping his baptismal tub filled to the brim lately. He’s also been putting out all 120 chairs in the Cornerstone Community Church that is still a baby of less than two years.
“We had five salvations in our first two months and then 23 in the last two weeks,” he said. “All credit to the Holy Spirit who has been moving in our church.”
Cornerstone Community is a church plant of Fairview Baptist in Ashland and has support from the Kentucky Baptist Convention.
“This is our fourth or fifth month with the KBC,” Ekers said. “We’re excited about that. We believe in what we’re doing.”
Job Juarez, church planting and development associate of the KBC, has been impressed with what the church has accomplished in a short time.
“Bobby is one of the out-of-the-box thinkers in many ways,” Juarez said. “He knows his community and how to approach reaching them. Bobby is reaching people where no one else is. Most of the salvations have come from high school and college age kids.”
The KBC provides monthly financial support, Ekers said. Cornerstone Community was giving the required 1 percent to the Cooperative Program initially but has already increased that to 5 percent, according to the pastor.
“We’re still a young church with a lot of new Christians who are just now learning the principles of tithing,” he said. “We’re hoping the money starts coming.”
Ekers said he couldn’t do it without the help of his wife, Michelle, and his ministry partner, Joey Caldwell, and his wife, Tracey.
“We are very young” as a church, Ekers said. “We had 98 this past Sunday and the average age was between 25 and 30. We have a lot of young teens and a lot of 35-40 (year-olds). My parents and a couple of older couples are about it over 60.”
The church is located beside the new Boyd County High School and the wives of Ekers and Caldwell work for the school system in human resource roles. “Both of them are our backbone,” he said.
Ekers’ daughter is on the volleyball team at the high school and most of them are new members of the church, including the head coach and assistant coach.
Ekers runs the public address system for games and also talks to parents about Jesus whenever he gets the chance.
“That’s honestly a large part of our church with 50 to 60 volleyball parents and kids,” he said. “That’s where we got involved because that’s where we spent most of our time. It allows me about 30 minutes a day to speak with parents who don’t come to church.”
A family first approach even in baptism has been a spark, Ekers said.
“Two weeks ago we had a father come forward, then his wife and both daughters. I allowed him to baptize his wife and two daughters. That, to me, has been the biggest energy. A couple of other dads have baptized their children, too.”
Ekers, who has been in ministry for 17 years including six as a pastor, wanted to be clear that the church wasn’t “stealing members from other churches.”
Fairview Baptist made Cornerstone Community a church plant in one of Mike Rice’s last acts as pastor. He died unexpectedly last year. Fairview is committed to giving financial support through December.
Ekers, 44, said Rice was a big influence on his life as was the late Rev. Harold Cathey. He said God was calling him to ministry work after he finished high school.
Although running nearly 100 on a weekly basis, the church has a membership role of about 45, Ekers said. He doesn’t rush membership until he has the new believers go through a discipleship class so they better understand the commitment of being a believer.
“Where we’re a new church start, we do things differently,” he said. “We work with each person who has been saved.”
So far, he said, they haven’t started a Sunday School simply because of a lack of teachers but do have an AWANA program in the evening. They also are searching for someone to be a worship leader. They play YouTube videos to supplement the music part of the service.
“If I started singing, they’d probably quit coming,” he said. “We’re dying for one.”