By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
BRUCETON — In a year’s time First Baptist Church, Bruceton, has seen baptisms increase from 17 in 2016 to 31 with several weeks left in the current church year.
This year’s total number of baptisms is the largest since 1976 and the third largest in church history, said Joshua Franks, who celebrated his first anniversary at the church in early August.
Franks refuses to take credit for the number of baptisms, noting the groundwork already had been established at the church with a “godly group of believers” here.
“This is not about me. God already was working here. He put me here at the right time to compliment what they were doing,” he said.
“It’s been a remarkable year,” Franks added, noting that there is “story after story” of God working in lives.
During the year he has witnessed the salvation and baptism of people ranging in age from a 60-year-old man to his 7-year-old son.
The pastor stressed that programs have had nothing to do with the increase in baptisms at First Baptist. The increase can be attributed directly to prayer and relationships, Franks said.
“We are an Acts 2 church,” Franks said, noting members are united and they pray. He said that the Sunday night service has been “repurposed” into a night of prayer. “We don’t pray for a list or a problem. We pray to experience God and to know Him better,” Franks said, adding that his own prayer life is evolving.
“When people’s hearts are stirred to know Him better and we see His holiness, He becomes all the more wonderful. Then, our actions are manifested outwardly,” Franks said.
“Our people are investing in relationships. They are making friends with people who are far from God and inviting them to church,” he said. “They are living out the holiness of God in their lives and people are watching.
“They are the ones God is using, not me.”
In addition to the number of baptisms, the church has seen both Sunday School and worship attendance increase substantially over the past year. The church has been revitalized, Franks said, crediting the church’s “senior saints” who realized they needed to make some changes in order to reach younger families.
“They are sold out to reach the next generation,” Franks said.
The pastor observed the church is beginning to see signs of “genuine revival. … I am seeing people grow from being marginal church members to starting their own ministries.”
He noted that one member started a ministry to reach mothers while another member recently began a jail ministry. “God is putting different ministries on people’s hearts based on their personal experiences,” Franks said. “I just provide support and help where I can.”
The pastor is pleased with the progress he has seen in just a year. He recalled that he promised the church he would not change anything the first year. “I said we’d pray and preach the gospel and that’s what we’ve done,” Franks said.
“Because of that we are seeing God at work.”