A Passion for the Lost
“I learned a long time ago nothing I did was a waste of time if I did it as unto the Lord,” said Bro. Andy Carpenter, pastor of the Pentecostals of Lone Star in Madisonville, KY.
“Positive energy gets God’s attention. When I was a young pastor, I didn’t know what to do; sometimes I was clueless. So, I painted the Sunday School rooms, and because I painted the walls, God gave us spiritual rewards. You could almost see the connection.”
“Obviously, there’s nothing as effective as hearing the voice of God,” he said. “The only thing that’s a waste of time is if you do an outreach ministry mechanically. If you do it with passion, it’ll be successful. People respond to that passion. They’ll never respond to the mechanics, but they’ll respond to the passion,” Bro. Carpenter said.
A Passion for People
The Pentecostals of Lone Star is not a large church. The sanctuary seats about 350 if the choir loft is included. However, that doesn’t stop Bro. Carpenter from challenging his congregation to make an impact.
“We’re not even the biggest church here. There are several apostolic churches in Madisonville. Bro. Hendricks, who is my district superintendent, pastors about four miles from me. His church is larger than ours.
Obviously, you have to ask yourself, what kind of an impact can we make? We can make an impact,” he said.
Bro. Carpenter has turned the facts into a challenge.
“Not only do we want our church to grow, but I challenged our church. This is the 60th anniversary of our church. In our first 50 years, we produced one preacher. So, I told them in the years to come, we’d produce 50 preachers! Hopefully, it won’t take that long. I believe that’s a greater key to growth, if we raise up people that will carry the Word, and if we can produce an atmosphere that will allow churches to be born out of our church, we can evangelize beyond our immediate ability.”
Thus far, Bro. Carpenter has helped his church do just that. When he first came to pastor this church, they were running about 140 people. Now, ten years later, the church has a Sunday attendance of approximately 250 and has started five daughter churches: four in Kentucky in counties where there are no UPC churches and one 8,000 miles away from home in Johannesburg, South Africa, where God is doing great things.
“This past week our total attendance including our daughter churches was over 640 people!” he said.
Bro. Carpenter believes his focus has to be on the people he’s mentoring. “My priorities are to raise up men that can preach the gospel and to let there be an atmosphere where people can be called of God,” he said. “And those people that are called of God have got to receive a burden for the lost that changes their lives.
“I’m convinced that if you do the right thing with raw material, God will give you more raw material. If this church had to cease to exist and we could take a hundred families and send them in a hundred different directions, all of them to preach the gospel in a hundred different cities, we would do that tomorrow. The result of that would be tens of thousands of people coming to God. To me that’s the most important.”
Putting the Passion into Practice
Practically speaking, growing the church has been mostly through personal one-on-one evangelism. Beyond that, “our goal has always been that we plant a church in every county that we can reach,” he said.
“We really wanted to plant ten churches in the first ten years. We haven’t done that; we’ve only planted five! Investing people in the ministry is never a negative, because God always turns it into a positive.”
One focus of evangelism at the Pentecostals of Lone Star is the home Bible study, but reaching friends and family is the main goal.
“We’ve taught a lot of Bible studies. We’ve taught both short term and extended Bible studies. We’ve had Holy Ghost crusades as well as revivals, and they’ve been effective,” he said.
“But nothing is more effective than building relationships with people that you already know and discipling them. Our goal is not to build our church; it’s to win our city. We always keep the pressure on, always trying to get better, always wanting to bring folks to Jesus. We’ve done a lot of things and none of them have been a waste of time.”
Though Bro. Carpenter said he is “not the world’s most organized guy”, the church does have a specific structure in place.
“We have formed several ‘commissions’. We have an outreach commission based on the Scripture, ‘Go ye therefore into all the world…’”
The first place mentioned is in Jerusalem. “Within that, we have a Jerusalem commission, that’s our immediate city. Then we have a Judea commission, that’s for our home missions efforts. The ‘uttermost parts of the earth’ is our foreign missions. The Samaria commission is our ethnic ministry. We are in the process right now of trying to start a Spanish church.”
Along with their outreach ministries, they also have a Minister’s Training-‘Every Man a Minister’ Commission. “We have a whole commission that trains our leaders. We’re always looking for new training courses. We are offering training sessions throughout the year. We have Bible Schools here. We’ve probably had a dozen graduates just from our local Bible School. We are continually improving our on-the-job training. We have five churches, so our young ministers get the chance to preach.”
Other commissions include the Prayer Commission, Praise and Worship Commission, Pastoral Commission, Sunday School Commission, Maintenance Commission, Community Service Commission (which includes a clothes closet for those in need) along with many others.
“We’re also involved with folks from the court assigned to us that we bring to church,” he said. “If people want to be members of our church, they have to be involved in some kind of ministry.”
Bro. Carpenter said, “I spend a lot of time talking about involvement. I talk about the fact that Jesus’ only prayer request was for laborers. You have to keep it in front of people. I found that if you lay off for about six weeks, so will they. If you lay off for six months, you have to start all over again.”
In speaking of his childhood, Bro. Carpenter said, “My parents were home missionaries and then foreign missionaries. Dad started the first church in South Dakota when he was 19. When I was 9, we went to South Africa and I stayed until I was 19. We never rented a house that wasn’t big enough to have church in. I preached my first revival at 13. I received the Holy Ghost at 9. Charles Grisham’s mother prayed me through to the Holy Ghost while we were on deputation. She said no one should go to the field without the Holy Ghost.”
His parents’ ministry greatly impacted his outlook on life and the ministry.
“I recognized the value of what my parents were doing. I was not making a sacrifice (being a missionary kid). I was being blessed.
“Then, I went to Jackson College of Ministries. Bro. Tommy Craft had a tremendous passion for the lost, and he transmitted that passion into my life. From Bible school I went to assist Bro. Jerry Ramsey. He blessed my life greatly. In him I witnessed intensity and consistence. These men along with my father have influenced how I operate.”
Bro. Carpenter recognizes “every day how deeply I am in debt to the Lord. I tell people that I’m one of the few people who doesn’t remember ever being called to preach. I just always wanted to preach.
“I do think a call of God is always a call of preparation. Looking back, my motivation was a strong desire; now my motivation is an understanding of the scripture: ‘Woe is me if I preach not the gospel.’
“Even on Mondays, even when I’m weary, even when I might not want to, I find that it is a fire shut up in my bones. I believe that we have an obligation to reach the world. Because we have a good day on Sunday and even if the church is healthy, my job is still not done. There are communities and counties all around me that have no church and no witness. There is no level of success, as people define success, that excuses me from the obligation to those people that still have not heard the Gospel.”
“I love casting vision and helping people see it bigger than they’ve ever seen it before. I like to preach on God’s great mercy and the power of evangelism,” he said.
“I trust I can pour myself into young preachers and into young people. To whom much is given, much is required. It is necessary that I give what has been given to me to others,” Bro. Carpenter said.
“People are hungry. Never has there been an opportunity like right now for revival. If I can raise up young men that preach better than me, then I’ve done something permanent. This is not my church – it’s God’s church. He’s going to do extraordinary things in these last days, and I just want to be a part of it.”