LOUISVILLE, Ky. (KT) – Evangelism leaders Rob Patterson and Kenny Rager gave the Kentucky Baptist Convention’s “Gospel to Every Home” initiative a jumpstart with an across-the-commonwealth road trip.
They packed up hundreds of thousands of flyers and delivered them to associational outlets and churches throughout the state this week.
Associational mission strategists welcomed the pair and the boxes and boxes of flyers they brought along with them. The initiative aims to put the gospel in every home in Kentucky, all 1.7 million of them, by the end of next year. Nearly one million homes - 967,814 to be exact - have already been claimed or adopted through Kentucky Baptist churches and associations, Patterson said.
A warehouse was holding the 1.7 million flyers that needed to find their way to associational offices where the AMS will get them to churches who have partnered on the program. Patterson and Rager took it upon themselves to make the special deliveries. A rented Ryder truck was packed with boxes and boxes of flyers.
Even with the coronavirus still in the air and the news, plans are being made to have the flyers, packed with a New Testament and some other materials, going to every home.
Patterson said associational leadership is doing a great job of helping churches adapt to constantly changing realities.
“Most are building teams, mapping communities, and making plans this fall to mobilize for gospel distribution leading up to Easter or summer in 2021,” he said. “Timelines are in flux. Resources are being adapted to current realities. But the need to get the Gospel to Every Home has never been greater. Through the cooperation of 69 associations and 2,360 churches, Kentucky Baptists are more determined than ever to fulfill the Great Commission.”
Different strategies for making it happen are being debated among the AMS.
“We are basically hesitant about the current situation but looking forward,” said Stan Lowery, the AMS for the Nelson Baptist Association. “We’re targeting spring leading up to Easter (2021). My thought was what would somebody out in the community think about receiving something on the door? Would they be hesitant? They may not even look to see what it is.”
The initiative was announced before COVID-19 became part of the landscape in Kentucky and throughout the country. But the plan never changed because, virus or not, everybody needs to hear the gospel. Associations and churches are on board with helping reach this goal.
“You have to put the butter on the bread when it’s hot,” said Howard Atkinson, the AMS for the West Union Baptist Association. “I’m going to encourage our people to do it early. This is a special time when people are more concerned with spiritual things. They are more concerned with their own death. Some of our churches said, ‘Let’s get on with this thing, let’s do it.’”
AMS Tommy Floyd said Lake Cumberland Baptist Association will be targeting the spring of 2021 with COVID being part of the reason why. He has had to replace three evangelism team members after losing some to other churches and positions.
“When my team was intact, we talked about on when the best time would be,” he said. “I look at it both ways. It could be the best time but not the most convenient time. About the time we started talking about it, COVID hit.”
As Floyd reorganizes his evangelism team, he said the "Gospel to Every Home" initiative would be at the forefront of the discussion. He has the flyers and the other information that will be included in the package from Saturate USA.
“We haven’t had an evangelism board meeting since March,” Floyd said. “It has been bad timing. We were supported to have a meeting next week but the county where the meeting was going to take place is a hot spot so we decided to forgo the meeting.”
Lowery said having Patterson and Rager make the deliveries themselves shows the importance the KBC is putting on the initiative.
“They were a joy and we had fun unloading and praying over the flyers,” he said. “It was good. I’m thankful for these prayers and what they’re doing. They saved some funds. It was cheaper to rent the truck and take it themselves. I appreciate their spirit and willingness.”
Atkinson said the delivery was “a good shot in the arm for folks. This is the best team we’ve ever had in our history at the KBC. With downsizing, we’ve gotten better and better. The leadership is tremendous.”
Atkinson said they were left with a little more than 30,000 flyers. “That’s a lot, but you figure there are 1.6 million people in Kentucky so it’s not a lot compared to that. We’ll do our part. Some of the churches individually have been talking about what we need to do. We want to have everything to give to them.”
Many Kentucky Baptist churches are trying to build momentum after restarting following the early shutdowns. They report anywhere from 50 to 70 percent attendance compared to February. Some are still doing drive-in parking lot services and a majority are still doing online services every week. The church programs haven’t all restarted but many are making plans with the start of school coming at the end of the month.
Patterson and Rager’s road trip across the state also served as a way to encourage AMS as they engage the churches in their associations about the "Gospel to Every Home" initiative and be good stewards of Cooperative Program dollars. “The best return on investment was the chance to encourage AMSs during these challenging times,” he said.
“We couldn’t hug or shake hands, but I was glad to see them,” said Floyd, who looks ahead optimistically. “The fear is the biggest thing that is holding most everything back. Hopefully when it ends, there will be a hunger for the gospel.”