On Groundhog Day in February 2020, Dave Dauwe took over as pastor of the church where his Christian journey began. He has pastored five other churches but has now come full circle.
Dauwe grew up on a street that intersects Linden Street, where Ludlow First Baptist Church sits. It was 1985 when a friend invited him to church and Dauwe decided a life with Jesus was what he needed.
More than 35 years later, he is serving as the pastor of the Kentucky church.
“If I could be anywhere else, I’d rather be here,” Dauwe said. “To reach out in the community with the friends I grew up with, I’m living the dream really. Sometimes it’s funny to think, we’re astounded to think God would let us do something we wanted to do. I’m very grateful.”
Dauwe was called to the church that had less than 30 attending on a regular basis. He made no promises to the search committee.
“I said, ‘Look, I don’t know how to take this church forward, but God does. If you want my vision for the church, we’re all in trouble. But if you seek God’s vision, He will give us all we need.’’’
Pandemic pushed ‘us in’
With that, the call came and Dauwe stepped into the pulpit. Within six weeks, he had to close the church — because of COVID-19. “It was the biggest failure of my ministry but it actually pushed us in,” he said.
Dauwe said while he was “technically challenged,” his wife, Jackie, became a media expert and his 14-year-old son helped with Facebook. “I was doing services from my home in March 2020. Our church bought another laptop, a camera and we started livestreaming.”
The church was closed for 10 weeks, but the giving remained strong with members dropping by the church and slipping the tithe through a slot in the door, Dauwe said. “Previous pastors must have taught these people well. They remained faithful to drop off tithes. We never missed a beat financially.”
Six months later, the congregation reached 120 in one service and more than 100 in several services, he said. He said they are averaging between 80 and 90 — triple what they had before the pandemic. Dauwe said the church has no debt, and they have a desire to share the gospel with a lost community.
He said they had a desire to share the gospel and make disciples when he learned that the “Gospel to Every Home” initiative of the Kentucky Baptist Convention shared a common goal. He spoke with a pastor friend, Brad Banks of Owenton FBC, and found that he was already doing the “Gospel to Every Home” in their community with great success.
“When he told me about that and knowing what we wanted to do, I thought, ‘This has to be the Lord,’’’ he said.
Dauwe has taken that encouragement and run with it in his own church. He received enough material for 1,000 kits, and they have already been out on four streets and passed out 250.
“We went out on a Monday and Tuesday and have about a quarter of our bags out,” he said. “By the time we’re finished, we’re going to more than 1,000 homes in Ludlow.”
He also heard about the KBC’s “Revival in Every Church” initiative in 2021 and that was something he had wanted to do as well. Pastor Mike Jones of Big Bone FBC started a revival Sept. 19 at Ludlow.
Dauwe is amazed at how God has pulled everything together for Ludlow, and he hopes the church’s bright future continues to blossom.
“We’re seeing God’s blessing,” he said. “Things are falling into place. I had people go out with me (to witness). We started up a Wednesday night prayer meeting, and it has been greatly attended. I’m praying our hearts are renewed, refired and rekindled.”
Dauwe and his wife live with two of his sons, Joseph, 17, and Jacob, 14. He has a 29-year-old son who lives in Nashville.
“We have a long way to go but we’re grateful and humble,” he said. “I believe God called me to a region. I prayed for God to give me this city to win for him. When I got saved, nobody had to teach me about evangelism. I wanted to go tell people about Jesus.”
EDITOR’S NOTE — Mark Maynard is managing editor of Kentucky Today, where this story was originally published.