He plays with his eggs as he sits across the breakfast table from me. He is not going to eat them, but he does not know quite how to respond to the awkward silence. We have talked about sports and about our families but I know neither of those topics are what he really wanted to meet about. I can tell he wants to ask a question but is trying to determine if it is appropriate. Wanting to be gracious, I say, “I know you are wanting to ask me something so just ask.” He smiles and then blurts out a question I have heard multiple times: “So why did you leave a church you love to join the KBC?”
It is a fair question. For nearly 15 years I had the wonderful privilege of serving one of the great churches of our Kentucky Baptist Convention. The church was gracious to my family and generous in their support of me. I loved the people I served and the ministers I served with. It was exciting to see the church grow both in attendance and in their love for missions. I came to the church as an eager 27-year-old and was blessed to have a tremendous experience. Then, four months ago today, I left the pastorate to begin a new position with the KBC.
As I pondered his question, I could think of at least five reasons for why I left a wonderful church to join the Kentucky Baptist Convention staff.
Kentucky Baptists Have Impacted My Life
Many of the good things in my life are because of Kentucky Baptists. My family was first invited to church by a Kentucky Baptist Sunday School teacher. I was baptized by a faithful Kentucky Baptist pastor. I fell in love with preaching at a Kentucky Baptist camp. At 15 years old I preached my first sermon in a Kentucky Baptist pulpit. My first church mission trip was with a Kentucky Baptist ministry. I attended a Kentucky Baptist college. I was an evangelist supported by many Kentucky Baptist churches. My mentor is a former Kentucky Baptist Convention president. I am a devout Kentucky Baptist because of the investment they have made in my life. When approached with the opportunity, I considered it a great privilege to serve in a role to help my beloved Kentucky Baptist Convention.
Kentucky Baptists Demonstrate We are Better Together
I have always had a high view of partnership ministry. As a result, I was very proud that our church gave 11% annually to the Cooperative Program. I am convinced that we can do things together that we could never do alone. There is not a single church that could care for 800 foster children, plant dozens of churches, lead a robust disaster relief organization, distribute gospel materials to every home in our state, or place campus ministers on every major public university campus. Our partnership through the Kentucky Baptist Convention allows us to do all of this and much more. In a recent presentation to association leaders, Dr. Todd Gray reminded me of a quote by John Maxell that says, “We can go faster alone but further together.” I want to live my life pursuing the Great Commission and I believe the only way we can reach that goal is by working TOGETHER.
Kentucky Baptists Have an Influential Voice
Kentucky Baptists are the leading anti-abortion voices in our state. The Friends of Life KY Initiative, our advocacy for a constitutional amendment supporting life, and employing a journalist who writes exclusively on sanctity of life issues are all evidence of our commitment to protecting the most vulnerable of God’s creation. Additionally, when the state government threatened religious liberty, it was faithful Kentucky Baptists who rallied to make sure ministries like Sunrise Children’s Services were protected. The Kentucky Baptist Convention provides a needed prophetic voice in our commonwealth.
Kentucky Baptists Have Unrivaled Unity
We may not agree on everything, but by and large, Kentucky Baptists have done an excellent job of avoiding the divisions that some Christian groups experience. That is a monumental celebration in a state convention with 2,300+ churches led by a diverse group of pastors. Our unity allows our convention to focus on gospel ministry instead of putting out fires.
Kentucky Baptists Love Kentucky
When Kentucky has needs, Kentucky Baptists respond. When tornadoes devastated West Kentucky, Kentucky Baptists answered the call to help their hurting neighbors in a tremendous fashion. Generators were donated, chainsaw crews enlisted, meals prepared and generous financial gifts distributed because of faithful Kentucky Baptists. Each year, hundreds of hurting foster children from broken homes are cared for by Kentucky Baptists through our Sunrise Children’s Services agency. In Clay County, local children receive free Christian education because of our partnership with the Oneida Baptist Institute. Funds are distributed to help Ministry centers throughout our state serve people with food insecurities. We are a convention of churches who love the people of our state.
I loved serving as a pastor, and I now love serving as a member of the Kentucky Baptist Convention staff. At that breakfast table, my friend asked, “If you love the church so much, why did you join the KBC?” My response was, “I joined the KBC BECAUSE I love the Church so much.” This affection is not just for one singular local church, but rather, the broader church as a whole. I desire to see the church as the worldwide followers of God be strengthen, so that together, we can fulfill the Great Commission. I am glad to serve in my new role to play a small part in helping that happen.
It is because of leaders like you that we can have the Churches we have. Thank you for your devotion to God and His work.
We miss you but are so thankful for this opportunity and your willingness to work so diligently for such a wonderful cause.
May God richly bless you and your family.
Thank you very much for your kind words, Amaris. You and Herb are dearly loved!