DeWayne Gibson’s everyday life is like a blur.
Not only is he in his 18th year of teaching in LaRue County, Kentucky, but he’s a chaplain two days a week at Baptist Health in Hardin and teaches classes at Campbellsville University.
That’s all on top of being the senior pastor of Parkway Baptist Church in Hodgenville that has grown from 35 when he arrived to more than 600 every Sunday.
Sleep? It’s overrated. There’s work to be done.
Gibson is a bivocational pastor that has a bivocational staff and a membership whose light is always green — meaning “GO!” — when it comes to evangelizing their community. Simply put: They follow their leader.
“I’m totally blessed,” Gibson said between classes where he teaches at LaRue County Schools residential facility. “I’ve come to the realization it’s absolutely not me but all God. If He can use somebody like me, he can use anybody.”
‘God provided Parkway’
Gibson is going into his 12th year at Parkway, which was founded in 1991. He was leading a booming youth group of 150 at South Fork Baptist Church when God began nudging him to pastoral ministry. He finally relented. “God provided Parkway,” he said.
Hodgenville is his home community, living in the area since he was 9 years old. He has coached football, track and field and girls’ softball and everybody knows his name. That has helped the ministry, the pastor said. But when he stepped into the pastoral role at Parkway, the challenge hit him in the face quick.
“I never knew much about Parkway,” he said. “My first Sunday there were 35 people there. I had stepped out of a booming youth group and my first Sunday, I was like, ‘What have I done?’ Into the second year, we started seeing good regular growth.”
The worship center was mostly carved out of a ranch home and only seated about 150 with two narrow walkways.
“By the second Easter, I was sitting the deacons down the hall so others would have a place to sit,” he said. “The church took a big step of faith, and we built a $350,000 worship area.”
That was in 2015. The church paid it off in three years.
And the growth continued as Parkway Baptist started becoming known for being involved in the community.
“We’ve done some evangelical trainings,” he said. “We are learning. We don’t do everything perfectly but we’re investing in our communities, not just LaRue County. We have someone who attends our church from every county around us. It helps I’ve taught here and coached here. Now I’m doing their weddings. We invest in schools and local businesses.
“So many in Hardin and LaRue who don’t go to church. If we get them to come to church, they will come back.”
The idea that if you want something done, find a busy man certainly pertains to Gibson, who loves the life that God has chosen for him. He has surrounded himself with similarly hard-working bivocational leaders that make his job at the church easier.
Shawn Edwards, the associational mission strategist for the Severns Valley Baptist Association, has watched Parkway Baptist blossom under Gibson.
“For several years I have been amazed at how God is moving under the ministry of Pastor DeWayne and his church leadership,” he said. “I am excited that God will use Pastor Gibson at the upcoming Bivocational Conference sponsored by the Kentucky Baptist Convention. I believe the attendees will be encouraged by Pastor Gibson’s words.”
The Bivocational Pastors & Wives Retreat will be Sept. 15–16 in Bowling Green at Calvary Baptist. The generous giving of Kentucky Baptists through the Cooperative Program and Eliza Broadus Offering covers all meals, lodging and resources for 60 couples.
Catching the vision
Parkway has a husband-and-wife team, Caleb and Kate Canter, that minister to youth; a sound technician in Paul Dangerfield; Demarcus Compton leads praise and worship and Brittany Compton guides a children’s ministry that has 70 regular attendees. On Wednesdays the church has a group of professional teachers leading a group of 50 children, he said.
Michelle Milford, an administrative assistant, is not fulltime, but “puts in those kind of hours because she’s passionate and loves it,” Gibson said. Her husband, Todd, a former deacon, is a connection pastor and fills the pulpit occasionally to give the pastor a break, or an opening for a missions trip. He has traveled to Northern Ireland the last 26 years.
Parkway has baptized 80 this past fiscal year and 131 joined the church, Gibson said. “I only know those numbers because we just turned that in. I’m thrilled and aware but don’t focus on the big numbers.”
One of those he baptized recently was his 17-year-old daughter, Lilli, who had been immersed at the age of 7 but felt the need to be baptized now. Her father had been preaching about baptism recently.
Gibson said he wouldn’t change his busy life for anything. “Everyone has caught the vision here,” he said.