HIGH POINT, N.C. (BP) – To the casual observer, it could have seemed Green Street Baptist Church was hosting a cardiology convention, with several people wearing lab coats and sporting stethoscopes around their necks.
By Andrea Higgins
Baptist Press correspondent
HIGH POINT, N.C. (BP) – To the casual observer, it
could have seemed Green Street Baptist Church was hosting a cardiology
convention, with several people wearing lab coats and sporting
stethoscopes around their necks.
Heart health was the emphasis of featured speaker Kenneth Hemphill. But it wasn’t of the medical variety.
The Southern Baptist Convention’s national
strategist for Empowering Kingdom Growth, or EKG, has developed an
“instrument” that is becoming widely used by churches to do a spiritual
“Before churches correct errant thinking or myopic
vision, they’ve got to have a change of heart,” said Hemphill, author
of “Empowering Kingdom Growth: The Heartbeat of God,” a 40-day Bible
study for church settings and a companion to the book of the same
title. He also has developed a blue bracelet to remind wearers of their
Of course, any good doctor would prescribe a dose of
outside exercise to maintain a healthy pulse, and Hemphill is no
exception. He routinely recommends an Acts 1:8 regimen of churches
reaching out from their communities to the ends of the earth.
While EKG isn’t geared to measure electrical
impulses from the heart, some say it is triggering impulses within the
Green Street’s minister of education Frank Hensley
said he was in the midst of reading Hemphill’s book when it came time
for the Central Triad Baptist Association of 38 churches in the High
Point, N.C., area to plan a third annual Sunday School leadership
training event at Green Street. The 100-year-old church has 4,000
members, with about 2,000 in worship on Sundays.
“A lot of times it’s difficult to get our Sunday
School teachers to travel to a far destination for training,” said
Hensley. “We want to encourage smaller churches. We want to make
available to them what they might not otherwise be able to take
advantage of, so we hosted 300 people here, representing five
The EKG theme of the conference, “Empowering Kingdom
Growth Through Sunday School,” was carried through everything from
medical blips in their brochures to an emergency room door as a gag
“Sunday School is viewed by some people as a
dinosaur, and we wanted to reemphasize the importance of Sunday School
in the life of the church and the life of the individual. EKG fit
perfectly with that,” Hensley said.
Hensley said Hemphill’s EKG is a transforming work,
and he wanted to introduce other churches to it, possibly as a
springboard for them to do the 40-day study.
To that end, the EKG 40-day experience Sunday School
materials are being made available through state conventions at a
discount, Hemphill explained.
“Part of my assignment is to go to our state
conventions,” Hemphill said. “The whole EKG process is to kind of
remind ourselves of this incredible strategic plan we have,” he said,
referring to the call of Acts 1:8 to take the message of Christ from
our “Jerusalem” to the remotest parts of the earth.
“The EKG 40-day experience is really designed to change the affection of the church,” Hemphill said.
“The church growth movement started backwards,” he
continued. “The thinking was that the way you change the church was to
change the structure. But the problem with structural change is that if
you change the structure without the affection, you generally split it.”
Hemphill regularly reminds churches about how God
said He would grow His Kingdom. “Churches often fall into the mistaken
notion that church growth is something we do,” he explained.
Returning to the medical theme at the EKG
conference, Hensley added: “This is something that’s caught and not
taught. It sure was like we got a big infection, you know? It hasn’t
played itself out yet, but I really believe that it will.”
Hemphill envisions “moving beyond a church growth
mentality, which also fostered a competitive spirit. What we need to
look at is a Kingdom expansion movement.”