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REACHing Kentucky: Two jobs, one goal

David Little and Dexter Church

 

Bivocational pastors are the "Iron Men of the SBC," according North American Mission Board President Kevin Ezell in a July 5, 2012 article in "The Courier." Ezell was further quoted in the same article as saying, "If we're really going to penetrate the lostness of North America, it's going to have to be with the help of bivocational pastors." Pastor David Little, of Dexter Baptist Church in Calloway County is one of these Iron-Men bivocational pastors whom the Lord is using to get the job done.

Little has served as pastor of Dexter Baptist for seven years and three months. Dexter is listed at City-Data.com as having a 2010 population of 277 people. It is a rural community in the same county where Murray, Ky., and Murray State University are located. Calloway County, according to Glenmary Research, has a population of over 37,000 with approximately 23 percent identified as church attenders. Little and pastors like him are thankful for the faithful church attenders, but they are burdened for the more than 28,000 souls who do not attend church services.

As a bivocational pastor, Little not only serves the needs of the congregation, but he also works another full-time job to provide for the needs of his family.

Mark Sickling, director of missions for the Blood River Baptist Association, where Dexter is located, appreciates the ministry of men like David Little. He said, "I have never been a bivocational pastor. But over the last five years, I have come to have a great appreciation and respect for the bivocational pastor. In fact, I have told other pastors on more than one occasion that bivocational pastors are my heroes." Sickling added, "I couldn't imagine attempting to prepare three sermons a week and minister to your church members while working an additional 40 hour a week secular job."

Approximately 60 percent of Kentucky Baptist churches are served by bi-vocational pastors. Ray Gillard, former director for the Small Church and Bivocational Leadership Network, in his book, "Uniquely Bivocational," wrote, "It is my belief that church leadership of the future will be primarily bivocational."

Little said one of the benefits of being bivocational is that "the full-time job allows me to minister to folks outside the church." There are challenges as well. In a word, the biggest challenge is, "Time," Little said. "(There's) so much I would love to do, but I can't do all I have on my heart and do a full-time job and try and study for sermons and be a pastor," he said.
"But God always helps me to get done what needs to be."

Even with the challenges of being bi-vocational, Little and Dexter Baptist are doing an excellent job reaching people with the gospel. When Pastor Little came to Dexter, there were 24 people in attendance at the church, and they had baptized four people the previous year. Today, they average 70 worshippers on Sunday mornings, and they baptized 13 people in 2016 and more than 20 people in 2017. The church's 2017 baptism total puts them at a baptizing ratio of 4:1, or one baptism for every four church attenders.

I contacted Pastor Little recently to talk about what the church is doing to reach people. Little replied, "We do a lot of training and had one of the best revivals in a long time in 2017. Our evangelist came, God showed up, and we are still feeling God move in our community."

He added, "All my Sunday School teachers do a wonderful Job!"

Little also leads the church in personal evangelism training. He shared, "The KBC staff showed the Blood River Baptist Association the "3 Circles" Tool for sharing the Gospel months ago, and we took this info to my church and God has blessed. We have trained twice now, and as the church continues to grow. I see us teaching the 3 Circles again soon."

Not only is Pastor Little practicing personal evangelism and training the church members to do the same, but there is evidence that his work is bearing fruit. He said, "Many of my members have led folks to the Lord and are more confident now in witnessing to anyone who will listen."

David Little, like so many Kentucky Baptist pastors, takes evangelism seriously and leads by example. I asked him why he is so concerned with reaching people for Jesus? He said, "God showed me many years ago a picture in my mind. One day Jesus is coming to take us Christians home and, in my mind, I see a lot of folks left behind. John 3:16 tells us that doesn't have to happen. I want to tell all who will listen to the Good News, the lost may have a chance to ask God to save them before it's too late."

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