EDITORS’ NOTE: April 15 is Cooperative Program Sunday in the Southern Baptist Convention.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (BP)–Master’s Church has been “working hard to build trust,” its pastor says, “and tell people what we’re about.”

It was the first of 10 “High Impact” churches launched in Kentucky since 2004 -– church plants placed strategically in growing areas and aimed at reaching non-believers and those who have dropped out of church.

Each High Impact plant receives $100,000 from the Kentucky Baptist Convention over a three-year start-up period, with a five-year attendance goal of 250. The convention’s funding originates with Cooperative Program gifts from churches across the state and includes a goal of launching 25 High Impact churches by 2010.

Master’s Church used the first installment to secure a meeting facility in Lexington and hire Alex Kinchen as its fulltime pastor so that outreach efforts could begin immediately. The church has grown to 160 members and continues to experience growth in worship and Sunday School attendance.

The second installment enabled the church to add Marc McLean as a fulltime youth minister. Since then, the church’s youth ministry has flourished and several students have professed faith in Christ.

The remaining funds now are being used for community outreach and promotion. In addition to yard signs and newspaper advertisements, the church regularly sends event invitations, welcome packets and e-mails to nearby residents.

Kinchen, a lifelong Southern Baptist, has personally felt the effects of the Cooperative Program during his seminary training and now as a church planter.

“We have a true partnership with the convention,” Kinchen said. “Our people know the KBC has faith in the work God is doing here, and that gives us confidence that we aren’t in it alone.”

Located in office space about a mile south of a rapidly growing residential development named Masterston’s Station, the church has drawn many visitors from its targeted area. Nearly 65 percent of those currently attending the church previously had not attended church for six months or more, Kinchen reported.

“When you talk to people here, over and over again you’ll hear incredible testimonies of how God brought them here,” the pastor said. “There are so many stories of what God has done and is doing in their lives.”

What wasn’t expected was the financial return on Kentucky Baptists’ investment. Less than three years old, Master’s Church has already given more than $105,000 back through special offerings and Cooperative Program giving.

“This shows they already see the importance of giving to worldwide missions,” said Larry Baker, director of new work and associational missions for the KBC.

As membership expands, Kinchen continues to emphasize support for the Cooperative Program. New members are introduced to CP during a “Membership Matters” class, and Kinchen incorporates Cooperative Program education into occasions such as special offerings and budget planning sessions.

“I can confidently say we would not be here without the Cooperative Program,” Kinchen said. “Along with the funding, we’ve received an incredible amount of prayer, encouragement and training support from the KBC.”

Supporting church plants like Master’s Church is just one way the Gospel is spreading through the Cooperative Program in Kentucky. On April 15 — Cooperative Program Sunday — churches across the Southern Baptist Convention will celebrate 82 years of combined missions and evangelism efforts.
Kristie Randolph is a writer for the Kentucky Baptist Convention, on the Web at www.kybaptist.org.

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