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Turning Southern Baptist Children into Another Generation of God Botherers

3 circles

The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is known for starting new evangelism programs. SBC attendance has been in a freefall for years. Churches often have large membership rolls and much smaller actual attendance numbers. On any given Sunday, over half of Southern Baptist church members are somewhere other than the house of God. Over the years, the SBC has rolled out numerous programs meant to evangelize the lost and prop up attendance numbers. All of these programs have spectacularly failed. No matter how many new programs with catchy names the SBC comes up with, attendance numbers have continued to decline. SBC leaders can’t seem to figure out WHY people don’t want what they are selling.

One program cooked up by the SBC is the 3 Circles program.

One church describes the 3 Circles program this way:

  • This tool helps Christians to share the gospel using three simple circles. These represent (1) God’s
  • Design, (2) Brokenness, and (3) the Gospel. They also illustrate how accepting and submitting to Jesus will grow faith and lead to God’s perfect design.
  • “Three Circles” is something that people easily understand.
  • All you need to have is a pen and paper, or napkin, or hand!
  • The method provides quick answers to common questions of faith:
  • o What was GOD’s DESIGN?
  • o How did we depart from God’s Design through SIN?
  • o Can anyone escape BROKENNESS and what does BROKENNESS feel like

Last week, Kentucky Today had a story on how one church and pastor is indoctrinating children in the use of the 3 Circles program:

You may not find a more evangelistic person than Derrick Willis in Carrollton.

Unless, of course, you meet 8-year-old Timber Kincaid.

After Willis, the associate pastor of English Baptist Church, taught Timber the children’s version of the evangelistic 3 Circles tool, she’s been running circles around everybody. Timber shares the gospel seven times a day, seven days a week.

Willis knows that because she reports to him about every gospel conversation.

“She’s on fire,” Willis said “She calls me two or three times a week to tell me how many times she’s shared the gospel. She averages 7-8 times a day.”

The North American Mission Board put together the 3 Circles for children, which Willis said is a “knockout.”

But it’s not just Timber showing evangelistic chops. Willis said “the Lord has blessed our area here lately.”

He has two community Bible study groups and watched how God is changing lives. A man and his son who lived next door to the church for over 30 years but never attended are now scheduled to be baptized in a couple of weeks.

It was about six years ago that Willis felt God tugging on his own heart and, since then, sharing the gospel has become his pastime. He’s a bivocational minister, with a fulltime job, but he’s also all in on evangelism.

“To be truly honest, I didn’t become a believer until about six years ago,” Willis said. “I was there because my wife was there. The Lord got ahold of me and I’ve been working in ministry ever since.”

Willis has trained the youth in 3 Circles and has them excited and the church is taking the Gospel to Every Home seriously as well with regular weekly visitation. He has found that with COVID starting to fade a little, more and more people are open to having a gospel conversation.

“Maybe it’s just for the fellowship but they’re paying attention more and are more receptive to hearing what you have to say,” he said.   

He said sometimes they only get in three or four visits because the conversations have become so rich. Willis said he started one day with 30 bags and only passed out a dozen because of how well the conversations were going.

During one of the Bible studies, a man’s son, who is a self-proclaimed atheist, was sitting in the corner as Willis shared from John. “He was kind of sitting in the corner but you could tell he was listening.”

The father sent Willis a text and told him they were in the car and his son turned it over to K-Love. “I’m telling you, good things are happening here. The Lord is opening up some doors for us.”

The senior pastor is Jon Elardo, who Willis said is strong in the ‘ships – discipleship and fellowship – and that they work well together. “We kind of piggyback off each other,” he said. “Jon is happy all the time. Sometimes, I’m not that way. We make a good team.”

The church is stirring more than it has in a long time with new members and baptisms. Meanwhile, Willis’ evangelistic touch is spreading like wildfire. Even to an 8-year-old girl.

Sigh (please see Why I Use the Word “Sigh”).

What pastor Willis has done is rob the children of his church of their youth. Instead of letting kids be kids, Willis has turned them into the next generation of God-botherers in Carrollton, Kentucky. The eight-year-old mentioned in the article has been turned into a soulwinning machine (though I seriously doubt she is sharing the gospel forty-nine times a week in a community of 4,000 people). She is presently lauded for her evangelistic zeal, but there will come a day when she will regret having spent her young life bugging people to get saved (using a truncated, shallow, cheap gospel). And when she’s a mother with children someday, guess what? The SBC will have moved on to a new evangelism program, church attendance will be what it was a decade before, and “fire” will be gone. Why? That’s just the way it is . . . The fundamental problems of the Southern Baptist Convention are foundational. Evangelicals, in general, are one of the most hated sects in America. Trumpism. Misogyny. Anti-LGBTQ. Anti-abortion. Judgmental. Indifferent towards sexual abuse. Rock star culture. Indifferent towards the least of these. Shall I go on? All the circles in the world won’t change how unbelievers view the SBC until churches and pastors change their ways. They won’t, of course. They can’t. The SBC is married to the irrational notion that the Bible is inerrant and infallible. Thus, they are forced to defend and live out all sorts of things that moderns consider immoral and irrational.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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  1. Avatar

    A lot of people in the South are taught to be polite in situations where they would rather tell someone to f$%# off. Nicer people would say, bless her heart rather than telling a small child to go away. How sad that this child (and others) are indoctrinated to pester people with religious BS.

  2. Avatar
    MJ Lisbeth

    I can’t help but to think that Timber Kincaid is learning to be a people-pleaser, if she wasn’t already one. She might well believe she’s doing “the Lord’s work,’ but it’s hard not to think she’s also motivated–as kids often are–by winning the approval of an adult figure (Pastor Derrick Willis) in her life.

    How much do you want to bet that she loses her faith, or at least her evangelical zeal, when she realizes as much?

  3. Avatar

    Poor child. There are so many other things a young child could be doing, and if she was super invested, would pay off in the future. (For example, if she loved gymnastics or ice-skating or playing piano). But this is such a waste of her life.

  4. Avatar

    An atheist sat in the corner just listening, then suddenly finds God? Yeah, I believe that. So many lies about 5 minute conversions. And as for the child, of course they use her. Our local Jehovah’s Wittness’s used kids too. Even a hardened, cranky atheist isn’t going to yell at a child or toss a tract back at them. How many of the people the girl speaks to actually go and get baptized, as opposed to how many politely listen and then ignore it? I bet those numbers are kept secret.

    • Avatar
      ... Zoe ~

      I just received my first JW evangelistic effort via a phone call. Guess with Covid, door-knocking days are over. Now they are using the phone as an outreach. Thankfully, I did not know the number, so left it, figuring it was a telemarketer. She left a message. First thing she does is say her name and tell us she’s not a telemarketer. LOL! Wanted to know if I wanted to join a Bible Study and if I had questions about why the world is so evil. Probably best for her if I don’t answer the phone. 😀

  5. Avatar
    Brian Vanderlip

    Memories of a knock on the door and opening it to find a pre-adolescent child parroting some religio-manure her mother memorized into her. As she spoke to me about God’s Plan etc. I smiled at the child, fully aware she was forced, kidnapped and trying to get through the day. I did not tell her mother she was a fucking prick from Helltown for what she was doing to her child. I did not fucking yell in her face that she was an abuser. Most likely, she was abused herself and it is these people passing on abuse through the ages that we have come knock-knock-knocking at our doors. Inswtead, I listened for a minute or two to the youngster and then said, “No thank-you; I have my own beliefs,” and shut the door. Fucking pricks ruin childrens’ lives because theirs are ruined. We can do better. I have done better with my own children… Listen to your kids: Don’t tell them what they should say! Let them say…
    Imagine telling a child they are a sinner. Fucking idiotic shit.
    And Jesus said: How can I harm thee…. Let me count the ways! (It’s not ME sayin’ it… It’s in the Bible!)

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Bruce Gerencser