Jackie Perkins is pastor of First Baptist Church, Dawson Springs. Perkins became pastor of the church in October 2013 after having taught Sunday School for a number of years and then having served as an interim pastor for six months.
In the first three years that Perkins served the church, they have baptized at a 14:1 ratio, meaning they have baptized one person for every 14 people attending Sunday morning services. Last year their baptism ratio improved to 7:1, which is incredible for a 143-year-old traditional church.
Just recently Perkins shared with me that a 77-year-old lady received Jesus in one of their services and a 77-year-old man also joined the church. Of the others who were saved this current year 18 are college age, youth or children, and the others are adults. The church is doing a good job reaching people from several different age groups. I recently asked Perkins what he has done to help the church become outward in its focus. Here are some of his answers:
1. Preaching and teaching on becoming outwardly focused: Perkins has addressed the problem of being and inwardly focused church by teaching and preaching through some materials by Thom Rainer, such as "I Am a Church Member," and "I Will." These books have been used widely across Kentucky and beyond to help church members realize the dangers of becoming an inwardly focused congregation. Once a church becomes more concerned about programs and services offered to members than they are concerned about reaching the lost with the gospel then they are already experiencing the roots of decline.
2. Praying for lost people by name: Perkins includes everyone in the church in praying for the salvation of lost people. Pastor Perkins understands the important evangelism principle forwarded by 2017 Reset Evangelism presenter Don McCutcheon, that if we want to see lost people with names be saved then we must pray for lost people by name. First Baptist prays for five salvations each month asking the Lord to save people through their outreach efforts.
3. Training the people in personal evangelism: This past year Perkins taught the people at First Baptist how to share the gospel using both "3 Circles: Turning Everyday Conversations into Gospel Conversation" and "Share Jesus Without Fear." He taught one of these witness training tools on Sunday mornings and the other on Sunday nights. One way to change the culture of an inwardly focused church is to train church members every year in personal evangelism. Pastor Perkins has taken this principle to heart and is helping the members of First Baptist understand the importance of sharing the gospel, as well as equipping them for that important work.
3. Sharing the gospel through normal church activities: One way a church can become more evangelistic is to evangelize through their already established programs. Pastor Perkins does this by leading the leaders at First Baptist to share the plan of salvation through RA's, GA's, youth group, and VBS. The church has learned to take advantage of these great opportunities to share Christ.
4. Receiving a burden for the lost: Pastor Perkins said, "It's the desire of God's heart to see the lost saved. We need not to forget that." Evangelistic churches are led by evangelistic leaders. Perkins has a burden he received from the Lord about people who do not yet know Jesus. This burden is recognized by the members of First Baptist and is also contagious. He said, "I am not emotional and in tears for the lost often, then I am not getting the marching orders from Jesus or the message of LOVE over and over in God's word. Prayer is powerful, really powerful."
Perkins is leading the way to help First Baptist, Dawson Springs, become an outwardly facing church reaching out and welcoming all those who need the gospel. In a recent text conversation, we were talking about an approach to personal evangelism. He texted me, "I have been hammering about sharing the gospel. So, I need to share more myself." This pastor understands that an evangelistic church starts with an evangelistic leader. Please join me in praying for Perkins and the other 2,400 — plus Kentucky Baptist pastors to lead the way in evangelism.