How did Dahlgren Baptist Church move from two baptisms in 2014 to 17 last year?
“I’ll give you the short answer: It’s all about Jesus,” said Pastor Brad Sloan.
His church is located in a small, predominantly Catholic village 15 miles southeast of Mt. Vernon, IL. “There were a few people who were like, man, I don’t know if you’ll ever see much growth there,” said Sloan, who was installed as pastor in August of 2014.
The church hasn’t yet seen massive growth, “but what we have seen are souls (saved).”
Dahlgren’s Awana program for children reaches kids in the community whose parents aren’t yet connected to the church. Last summer, the church held its first Vacation Bible School in 10 years, with 33 kids in attendance.
Through those outreach efforts and intentional Sunday school-based discipleship, Sloan is trying to inspire in his leaders a hunger for people to come to know Christ. In turn, the leaders challenge the students they’re discipling to examine what it means to have a relationship with Jesus.
“We’ve just had a lot of victory (in student ministry) when kids begin to be challenged: Hey, what do you believe about Christ?”
In 2015, the majority of Dahlgren’s baptisms were children (although the total also included a family and a grandmother, Sloan said). The kids are now participating in children’s church and youth activities, and are learning to share their faith. The church also works to engage parents as they come to pick up their children from church.
Sloan sees revival happening in his community, particularly in the schools, as students are being stirred to really live like Christ.
“There’s not one person in this little village that Jesus can’t impact,” he said, “and it’s up to us to introduce them to him.”