The following is a guest post from Chuck McAlister, KBC Evangelism and Church Planting Team leader.
American churches are in crisis. Polling organizations like Gallup, Lifeway, George Barna, and the Pew Research Foundation point to an unprecedented decline in attendance. In an article appearing in New York Times entitled “The Decline of Evangelical America,” John Dickerson notes five primary reasons for the unraveling of the American church: declining church attendance, a donation crises (older evangelicals who once gave large sums are aging), failure by the church to adapt its methods to the changes in American culture, inability by the church to achieve conversions, and youth being increasingly disinterested in faith and church.
The state of the church in Kentucky is no different than the state of the church in America. Of the 2,085 churches reporting to the Kentucky Baptist Convention in 2011, 1,563 are either plateaued or in decline, with 412 churches reporting no baptisms. Primary worship attendance among our reporting churches has been declining an average of 2.4% per year since 2006. Research shows counties in Kentucky with less than 2% of their population as evangelical. According to the International Mission Board, these people would qualify as an unreached people group.
We must reverse these trends. We must impact the lostness of our state. We must reach into the darkness and help people encounter Jesus, which means that we can no longer be content to do business as usual.
On February 25, we will launch RISK (Reaching into the State of Kentucky) to address the challenging situation the churches in our state are facing. This one-day conference will be focused on evangelism, but it will not be your typical evangelism conference. With speakers and breakout sessions focusing on how we can make a difference in our communities for the kingdom of Christ, we will be emphasizing theologically sound, practical strategies that can help each church reach its community. We will also emphasize the health of local churches and their pastor as the catalyst for church growth. We will be discussing everything from church planting to how to utilize event evangelism to impact the unchurched. We will also address how Affinity Evangelism can leverage the needs and interests in a community as platforms to help people encounter Jesus.
Paul said, “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.” (I Cor. 9:22). Paul knew the message never changes, but our methods of communicating that message must adapt. Just as Paul was willing to enter the world of the lost without embracing their way of life, so must we make the adaptations necessary to reach those around us who need Jesus. Let’s gather at RISK to learn ways we can help one another get the gospel to Kentucky.