STURGIS, Ky. (KT) – Carl Nelson has been a gospel preacher for almost 43 years but he said you never stop learning.
Nelson, 67, has come out of retirement to serve in his seventh pastorate, taking over at First Baptist Grangertown, which had slipped to 25 people after COVID “and other things,” he said.
He has been the pastor for six weeks, and the numbers are rising. He’s leading the church through the "40 Days of Prayer" guide for Gospel to Every Home. He’s also reading and utilizing the book “Lead to Revitalize!” that was written by Kentucky Baptist Convention consultants who are from diverse backgrounds with a wide variety of ministry experiences.
Nelson said it has become his playbook, and he plans to lead some of the church’s key leaders through it once he settles in a little more.
“It’s what we need,” he said. “All of our churches need to get back to the fundamentals anyway. This book helps you get back to the basics. I can tell you it has already blessed me and it has blessed this church, too.”
Nelson said he has started implementing some of the practices that are recommended, including celebrating any victories—no matter how big or small.
“I celebrate everything that happens in the church,” he said. “One Sunday we were up two people. I said, ‘That’s wonderful! We’re going in the right direction.’’’
Grangertown has gained several new members recently and is having visitors every week. He said some of the strain on the church seems to be fading away.
Nelson said he was somewhat familiar with the church and knew it still had some life in it. The revitalization book reminded him of what needed to be done. He said it’s a “good read and an easy read” for anybody with a lot of practical lessons on pumping life back into the church.
“Our director of missions got some copies and gave me one, and I started reading it,” Nelson said. “I ran into (west region consultant) Larry Purcell, and he reinforced what I was thinking about it and got me to looking at it more closely. The outline of the book is wonderful and anybody can follow it. It’s part of reconnecting with the Lord. I’ve seen an attitude change (in his charge) in six weeks' time. I’m looking forward to the future.”
Nelson said the church is learning more about Gospel to Every Home, and he plans to lead a Three Circles training before sending teams into the community.
“I’ve been a pastor most of my life,” he said. “There’s nothing like hands-on working with people and doing the work of the church. I’m thankful for this book, too. It’s been a good reminder about the importance of the basics in revitalizing a church.”
The book is available on Amazon.