Everywhere I go, if there are Kentucky Baptists involved, I will know someone in the room. That strikes me as remarkable—especially when I’ve only been in ministry for less than ten years and have only been a Lead Pastor for four months. But it’s all due to my relationships with local Baptist associations.

In our age, national issues consume much of our attention at the expense of local issues. This is true in American politics, evangelicalism, and Baptist life. While much of the conversation on social media and book publishing concerns itself with big-picture issues that all Baptists should care about, a local association has stood behind every possible turn of my ministry career in one way or another. I’ve attended Southern Baptist churches my whole life and have served in some form of vocational ministry for the past ten years. I worked at a Baptist Summer Camp partnered with the KBC, led worship at several Discipleship Now events and retreats, served as a Youth Pastor and Family Pastor, and just started my venture as a Lead Pastor in October 2023. It was not until I had started making decisions about how involved I wanted our church to be in our local association that I recognized how Baptist associations have stood behind all the major ministry roles I’ve undertaken in one way or another. Here is a snapshot of twelve ways the Kentucky Baptist Convention and affiliated local associations, have blessed me:

  1. The KBC helped my home church find a pastor who preached the gospel to me and baptized me.
  2. The KBC offered a summer camp experience where I aspired to the call of ministry.
  3. The KBC connected me to other believers in college through the Baptist Campus Ministry at the University of Kentucky.
  4. The KBC introduced me to fellow Youth Pastors to collaborate on outreach and discipleship events.
  5. The KBC paired me with an associational strategist, Josh Skipper, who prayed for my church and helped us partner with other youth groups, churches, and their college ministry at NKU.
  6. The KBC mobilized a local association where the Network Moderator, Rick Davidson, connected the dots between my current church’s search committee and me.
  7. The KBC representatives, Jon Auten and Alan Witham, immediately called and introduced themselves to me as I was voted into a new position.
  8. The KBC provided my church with resources for crafting a budget and a handbook for deacons.
  9. The KBC helped me build valuable relationships with other Youth Pastors who are now ministering as Lead Pastors. I have lasting friendships and partnerships with them, and we get to experience the new phase of ministry together.
  10. The KBC offered our church and community a chance to participate in a local missions effort called Kentucky Changers.
  11. The KBC is responsible for me knowing all of the names I listed above continue to pour into me as a young pastor and are always encouraging me and offering to meet up with me (I’m getting lunch with Alan today).
  12. The KBC is the bridge between my church and the wider purpose of the Great Commission.

These twelve highlights don’t capture the full benefit of my indebtedness to the work of KBC and various local associations such as the NKBA and NCBN. The greatest blessing the KBC has offered me (and I never realized it was happening) has been the network of like-minded church leaders who know my name, family, and church. Wherever I have a need, I have a name I can call on. The names are important. Whether people from parachurch ministries, other pastors, strategists, or several people I’ve ran into along the way, this is an impossible life to walk alone in. And it’s especially awesome that I work together to expand this network. In the last few months, I’ve connected our local fire department chaplain to other chaplains through our local Baptist network.

It may be easy to take these local connections for granted, but this is where gospel work is taking place. We need to build this network together, especially when the need for accountability and cooperation is at an all-time high. I could go on and on with stories, and I’m barely a decade into ministry, but I don’t doubt for a second that I would be where I am today without the KBC.

There’s no reason to wait until you are in vocational ministry before building networks and relationships and finding missions opportunities. The KBC will be on campus at Southern Seminary for Great Commission Week, March 25–29. This week is full of events for students to learn more about current missions opportunities and options for those considering full-time missions following graduation.

Contact The Bevin Center with any questions.