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REACHing Kentucky: Northern Kentucky church planting pastor "all in"

 

Lots of people use the phrase "all in" to describe their commitment to life, work, or even sports. If the phrase "all in" ever fit a pastor, then its Pastor Tim Freimuth of Bethesda Community Church in Independence.

Freimuth describes himself prior to faith in Jesus as, "a Catholic playing softball for a Baptist and a Pentecostal church." At 6' 4" and 230 pounds, he was a much sought-after softball player.

His wife Judy was a member of Ashland Avenue Baptist Church, and that's where Freimuth developed a "drug problem." Freimuth likes to say his wife "drug" him to church on Sunday mornings.

At age 31, while attending church with his wife, Freimuth placed his faith in Jesus and was baptized as one of Christ' followers. By age 34, Tim had been ordained as a deacon and even began preaching sermons in several churches of the Northern Kentucky Baptist Association.

Bethesda Community Church, the church Pastor Tim planted, started out of relationships. As an active member in another congregation, he was asked to serve as a deacon and work to help the congregation streamline its constitution. During this time, he was feeling a call to ministry and began to seek the Lord's leadership.

Pastor Tim Freimuth in front of Bethesda Community Church's new worship center.

Freimuth sensed that God was calling him to go and start another church. This calling was affirmed by his pastor, the church, and other believers who knew him well. Tim worked with the association, and with Kentucky Baptist Convention, to gain the training and support he would need to start a new work.

When asked why he wanted to start a new church, instead of ministering in one of the existing congregations, Freimuth said it was simply the call of God on his life to plant a church. "I didn't plant a church because I didn't like the worship music in a different church," he said. "I planted because it was God's calling."

Pastor Tim, and Bethesda Community Church, are "all in" when it comes to reaching the lost for Jesus. The church is in Kenton County, which has a population of approximately 159,700 people, with less than 10 percent attending church.

To reach this lost community, Pastor Tim said, "We do a lot of traditional stuff like Vacation Bible School and Community Service Projects. We also do door to door evangelism and partner with a local school. We have a ton of different ministries and evangelism runs through each of those."

Freimuth practices day-to-day evangelism. "Everywhere I go I try to talk to somebody about the Lord," he said. "We have had people saved in the church building, in the parking lot, in restaurants, and in my home."

Pastor Tim uses an "all in" approach to motivate members to be evangelistic Christ-followers. He estimated that as much as 10 to 20 percent of Bethesda church members share Jesus and invite people to church on a regular basis. He motivates them to be intentionally evangelistic through preaching and by personal example.

Picture in the foyer of Bethesda Community's building with a sign saying, "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men."

The kind of honest, straightforward pastor that church members love to follow, Freimuth tells the congregation regularly that he is willing to go with them to witness to any of their friends or family members day or night. Several church members have taken him up on his offer. The result is that he and his fellow elders at Bethesda Community have created a church culture where evangelism is the norm. The members know that evangelism is important to their pastor and, therefore, it is important to them.

The hard work of this Northern Kentucky Baptist Association church is paying off. The 13-year-old congregation averages 85 people in attendance on Sunday morning, and had a high attendance of 135 for Easter services. They baptized 10 people last year and are on track to reach that many people, or more, this year.

May the Lord continue to raise up pastors like Tim Freimuth, and churches like Bethesda Community, across Kentucky and the world. (WR)

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