I have vivid memories as a 27-year-old pastor of attending a KBC Evangelism Conference. I remember feeling inadequate in my ministry position. But sitting with a crowd of preachers at Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, I heard some incredible preaching. One sermon focused on God’s unconditional love, and it met me right where I was at that moment.
I returned to my local church field — encouraged and challenged to stay faithful to God’s task and to keep striving to reach people with the gospel.
REACH 2022 was no different. The music was incredible. The preaching was some of the best. Time spent with Kentucky Baptist pastors, ministry leaders and church members was life-giving and soul-satisfying.
Here are five things I took away from REACH 2022:
1. Keep encouraging each other. Sometimes I get the impression that the word “encouragement” is viewed as a soft word — nice, but unnecessary. If that mindset exists, it could not be further from the truth. The Bible exhorts us to encourage one another and even gives us a model in the life of Barnabas and in Jesus’ interaction with his disciples. I witnessed encouragement flowing all through the REACH conference this year. Brothers and sisters in Christ were ministering to each other and being ministered to. I think the greatest thing about REACH 2022 was not the food or fantastic preaching, but the fellowship they enjoyed with Baptists believers from across the state.
2. Pray for Russia, too. John Brady, vice president for global engagement for the International Mission Board, reminded Kentucky Baptists of our historical work in Russia. He shared that Kentucky Baptists helped plant four churches in Russia in 1989. He told about the personal stamina of those Russian believers and the heartfelt worship experiences he enjoyed with them. He shared about the lasting gospel impact these churches have had in the region and reminded us that when we pray for Ukraine to not forget to pray for those Russian believers.
3. Send our best to the mission field. Nik and Ruth Ripken were honored with the REACH Legacy in Missions award at this year’s conference. The Ripkens are Kentucky Baptists through and through and gave much of their life in service to Jesus in some of the toughest places on the globe. When Kentucky Baptists sent them to the field, we sent some of our absolute best.
At REACH, I had the privilege to meet and talk with a young lady active in Kentucky Baptist life who is preparing to get on the mission field with the IMB. As much as we need leaders to serve Jesus here in the commonwealth, we also need them all over the world. We must keep sending out the best.
4. Reach the next generation with the gospel. Shane Pruitt, national Next Gen director for the North American Mission Board, reminded us that most people who are saved were saved at or before their 18th birthday. We have a job to do, and the gospel is powerful. Dr. Harold Best was part of a panel, along with Zach Burke, student pastor at Severns Valley Baptist, who reminded us that this generation can and must be reached with the good news.
5. It is good to be a Kentucky Baptist. The final message of the conference was brought by Pastor Jamaal Williams from Sojourn Midtown in Louisville. Pastor Jamaal took us back to a time when he was wanting to quickly finish his seminary work and return to the town he loved. He received a call from a friend telling him that he needed to “unpack his bags.” Bro. Jamaal brought the same message to Kentucky Baptists, reminding us that serving God is a privilege, not a right, and that we need to bloom where we are planted.
If you would like to hear any of these messages, they are available online at kybaptist.org/reach.
I love the REACH Evangelism and Missions Conference. This year was one of the best. Thank you, Kentucky Baptists, for your faithful work of reaching Kentucky and the world for Christ. Thank you for your Cooperative Program and Eliza Broadus giving that allows your state convention staff to serve KBC churches through gatherings like REACH.