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FROM THE STATES: Tenn., Ky. evangelism/missions news; ‘It’s not about what I know … it’s about Who I know’

Today’s From the States features items from:
Baptist and Reflector (Tennessee)
Western Recorder (Kentucky)


Tenn. church sees 34
baptized in five months

By Connie Davis Bushey

MADISONVILLE, Tenn. (Baptist and Reflector) — Westside Baptist Church, Madisonville, is making waves in its community, which is why its pastor, Dwight Torbett, is featured on the new “Reaching” app of the Tennessee Baptist Convention, explained David Evans, TBC evangelism specialist.

Evans said he is thrilled at the response to the app. About 1,000 people have downloaded it in just two months. The free app features daily devotions, interviews, an evangelism blog, and evangelism tools.

Torbett is interviewed in the video section of the app. He is included partly because his small church, which draws about 110 people on Sunday mornings, has baptized 34 people in the first five months of 2016, explained Evans. This occurrence is not an anomaly. Since 2011 Westside Baptist has baptized an average of 26 people each year with a high of 42 in 2015.

Torbett told the Baptist and Reflector that he has been pastor of Westside Baptist for seven years and initially the church drew about 25 people on Sunday morning.

One reason for its growth, he explained, is that the congregation is constantly investing in people in its community. The church provides a food pantry and jail ministry, and conducts a visitation program. Members pick up people including trustees from the jail to transport them to church in its van. They provide assistance to individuals with light bills and medications. They build handicapped ramps. As a result, Westside Baptist often doesn’t have a lot of savings.

Members do some of this outreach without him since he is a bivocational pastor, explained the pastor. Torbett also works full-time at Kimberly-Clark Papermill in Madisonville and serves as volunteer chaplain for the local Sheriff’s Department.

“You can sit around and wait for them to come in the back doors and you’re just going to be sitting and waiting because they’re not. You’ve got to go get them, and we try our very best to go wherever it is and get them. …

“To me to be evangelistic is to show the world the joy of my salvation. … It’s not about what I know … it’s about Who I know and … [He] can make all the difference in the world to everybody I meet if they’ll know Him the way I know Him. …

“I’m privileged now where I work to have the time to pray with a lot of people who come by my way.”

He sees his ministry as not tied to the growth of his congregation, Torbett added.

“You are not baptizing into your church; you are baptizing into His church. Now wherever they decide to put their name on the roll book or wherever they decide to work, that’s up to them.”

He also has tried to lead his church to allow the Holy Spirit to work by challenging the church members to “stay out of a box” and to keep Jesus “out of a box.”

He referred to praise and worship music, drama, and youth skits. “Some people say there is no place for those things in worship. I disagree and unless they can show me biblically that it is wrong, I will continue to support them.”

On one of the app videos Torbett also discussed his leadership as pastor.

“The first thing you always have to do is remember where you came from. The greatest miracle I could ever imagine is when Jesus Christ saved me. … It’s one thing to stand and to preach it but it does no good unless you’re willing to live it.

“To have the position as a pastor and to leave off the purpose, you’ve just changed it into a job. It’s not a job. It’s not a job. I can go to work and produce paper tomorrow, [but I] can’t save souls, only Jesus can do that. And … to preach without purpose, you turn it into something it’s not supposed to be. It’s not about us; it’s all about Him. …

“So it’s just me making sure I stay grounded and keep everything in order, and God’s blessed me.”

One key to his personal ministry is joy despite personal challenges, the pastor shared on the app. Two of his three children have muscular dystrophy and his wife Kelly has Lyme disease. Since the interviews for the app, Torbett has developed some health problems of his own, he told the B&R.

“It’s just the devil. We can’t expect Him to do nothing. Who do we expect him to attack? The only fight we’re definitely going to lose is the fight we choose not to fight. The battle’s already won so why not fight?” asked the pastor.

To download the app in the Apple App Store, Google Play, or the Windows Marketplace, search for “The Reaching App.”
This article appeared in the Baptist and Reflector (http://tnbaptist.org/BRNews.asp), newsjournal of the Tennessee Baptist Convention. Connie Davis Bushey is news editor of the Baptist and Reflector.


103 make decisions at
Ky. archery tournaments

By Robin Cornetet

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Western Recorder) — Young archers met with more than tough competition over last weekend as hundreds encountered Christ at an evangelistic outreach in Louisville.

“We can no longer sit in our churches and wait for our young people to come to us to hear the Gospel. We must engage them where they are,” said Chuck McAlister, evangelism team leader at the Kentucky Baptist Convention.

Sandwiched between two national archery tournaments at the Kentucky Fair and Expo Center, “Engage!” YEC (Youth Evangelism Conference) attracted more than 400 people with Brock Gill’s gospel-centered illusions.

McAlister said 103 young people made faith decisions.

KBC Affinity Evangelism Strategist Andy McDonald described one of the illusions as especially powerful.

While telling the story of Jesus meeting the woman at the well, Gill slowly poured the water from three silver jars into a large bucket placed at the center of the stage.

As he talked about the living water of Jesus that never runs dry, the illusionist returned to the first jar and emptied it again, doing the same with the other two vessels.

Three times Gill poured what appeared to be the entire liquid contents of the jar — all the while repeating the words, “You’ll never thirst again.”

“I’ve heard that story a hundred times. I’ve even preached it myself, but his presentation was so powerful,” McDonald said. “I think the light and the truth of the Gospel became understandable for people in that moment. I know it did because they responded.”

McDonald said the Kentucky Baptist Convention plans to follow up with everyone who prayed to receive Christ and connect individuals with Bible-believing churches in their hometowns.

About 13,000 people traveled to Louisville during the three days of national competitions offered by Centershot and the National Archery in the Schools Program.

McDonald expressed gratitude to Kentucky Baptists for their part in making Engage! YEC possible.

“When they give and they pray, and when they give to the Cooperative Program, Kentucky Baptists have a hand in those decisions,” he said.

The Kentucky Baptist Convention has a new resource called LIFEproject that guides churches in reaching affinity or need-based groups in their communities.

For more information about LIFEproject visit http://www.kybaptist.org/lifeproject, and plan to attend LIFE Tour, www.kybaptist.org/lifetour, to learn more about how your church can be a Great Commission driven church. The next LIFE Tour is June 9 at Flemingsburg Baptist Church in Flemingsburg. (KBC)
This article appeared in the Western Recorder (westernrecorder.org), newsjournal of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. Robin Cornetet Bass is partnership editions director of the Western Recorder.


EDITOR’S NOTE: From the States, published each Tuesday by Baptist Press, relays news and feature stories from state Baptist papers and other publications on initiatives by Baptist churches, associations and state conventions in evangelism, church planting and Great Commission outreach, including partnership missions. Reports about churches, associations and state conventions responding to the International Mission Board’s call to embrace the world’s unengaged, unreached people groups also are included in From the States, along with reports about church, associational and state convention initiatives in conjunction with the North American Mission Board’s call to Southern Baptist churches to broaden their efforts in starting new churches and satellite campuses. The items appear in Baptist Press as originally published.

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