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10,000 baptisms: Pastor sets milestone

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (BP) — Kentucky pastor Steve Ayers has reached a milestone that has Christians across the state taking notice: 10,000 baptisms since he arrived at Hillvue Heights Church.

Since becoming pastor of the Bowling Green congregation in 1991, Ayers has seen the church grow from 30 people into a megachurch where 5,000 people regularly attend Sunday morning services.

“The evangelistic success of Hillvue is nothing short of miraculous,” Kentucky Baptist Convention Executive Director Paul Chitwood said. “We celebrate every soul saved and pray God gives a harvest of 10,000 more.”

Chitwood said Ayers has kept his church laser focused on reaching the lost.

Hillvue consistently leads the state in baptisms and is the only church that consistently tops 500 per year.

Ayers said he stresses to all new believers that they need to share the Gospel with their families, friends, co-workers, neighbors, everyone.

“As soon as they come out of the water, they are prayed over and blessed, and then they are brought into the ministry,” Ayers said. “I’ll say, ‘What do you need to go do?’ and they say, ‘Go tell somebody.’ And they go do it.”

Ayers said he believes 10,000 is only the beginning of what the Lord will do at Hillvue.

“I think we have a Great Awakening at Hillvue yet to come,” he said. “This is the beginning. It’s crazy. I’m more excited now than when I first arrived here. It’s amazing to watch people come to Christ. It never gets old.”

Todd Gray, head of evangelism for the Kentucky Baptist Convention, noted he is “not aware of another church in the state that has surpassed this historic milestone of 10,000 baptisms under one lead pastor.”

“The entire staff at Hillvue Heights sets individual goals for reaching the lost with the Gospel and leading them to follow Christ in baptism,” Gray said. “The Lord is honored by this intentional effort led by Pastor Steve and the staff. We stand by cheering them on as they continue to set the pace for our state in intentional gospel outreach.”

Throughout his ministry, Ayers has focused on evangelism. But after surviving a fiery explosion that nearly killed him two years ago, he has redoubled his efforts to reach the lost. He says he now has a fuller understanding that “truly, at your last breath, nothing else matters.”

“I’ll be talking about Jesus until my last breath,” Ayers said. “We have one message that Jesus Christ died on the cross to save sinners, that He’s risen from the grave to give us new life. We don’t have a system at Hillvue; we have attitudes. The first attitude is we believe God created every human being and every human being is worthy of grace. The second attitude is we meet people where they are to invite them to come where Jesus will take them. We can’t save people, but we can share the cross and resurrection with them so that they might know Jesus will save them.”