A record number of participants went through Locust Grove Baptist Church’s corn maze this year, the 13th year it’s been provided.
But the number is not what excites Brandon Bramlett, pastor of the Murray, Kentucky church — it’s the message they hear.
Some 18% of this year’s 1,174 corn maze participants were unchurched, Bramlett estimated. As people exit the maze they are handed a gospel tract, invited to the church and given an opportunity to talk with a member.
“It’s not intimidating, not threatening, but a great open door to share the gospel,” Bramlett said. “I am more thankful for what that number represents — we got to share the gospel with over 1,000 souls.”
Each year the church develops a Christian-themed design for the maze and this year the only way to get through was to walk “through” the name of Jesus.
There were two entrances and multiple paths through the maze, but “there was only one way through the maze that really works. When they come out of the maze, I am waiting there with a gospel tract in hand,” Bramlett said. “Just as there is only one way through the maze but many paths offered, there is only one way to Jesus Christ although there are many paths offered by the world.
“Our hope with the maze is that some get lost and then are truly found,” Bramlett said, noting that while the maze attracts some church groups, it also is a large draw for the college community.
“We have a lot of students from Murray State University who are far away from home and many of them are looking for a fall activity. Many don’t have a church in Murray to call their home, and there are a lot of international students who are even farther away from home and many don’t go to church.”
Locust Grove follows up with those who request information about the church, and Bramlett noted several new families have started attending in the last few weeks. When he asked one family what led them to visit the response was “the corn maze” — last year’s.
Work on the maze begins earlier than might be expected.
“We start mowing the maze in May,” Bramlett said, adding the design is given to Ryan Morrow, senior instructor/undergraduate academic programs coordinator in Murray State’s agriscience technology department, who plugs the information into a handheld GPS.
“It is georeferenced to our field, which is behind our church and donated to us by our song leader who owns the land.”
‘We think about it all year long’
Bramlett uses the GPS for about a week and follows it on a tractor, taking several hours to mow the design.
“This one took about five-and-a-half hours — last year it took over 10 hours.”
The maze is open to the public in late September, but “we think about it all year long. We plan advertisements and we get the word out. When it all comes together it is really a beautiful thing.”
In a Facebook post, Bramlett said, “We are so thankful to everyone who came through, to all our workers who worked hard each night — and especially to the Lord, whose blessing made it possible.”