Chris Yaw Interviews Joe Phelps: Flinging Open the Doors Turns Around Decline


Taking over a faithful but dormant congregation 17 years ago, Joe Phelps began preaching an image of openness to the community and acceptance of those who are different.

Today, people are flocking to Highland Baptist Church in Louisville, KY to hear a progressive message that is not only inspiring folk, but giving them a new vision for the community.

In this interview, Pastor Joe talks about how his congregation has made a name for itself by becoming a part of the community - everything from advertising for weddings (from 5/yr a year to 50/yr today) - and by not being afraid to let their faith be seen.  Enjoy the wise words of this gifted clergyman.


Watch the Full Interview BELOW.

Rather Listen? Click here to download the Mp3 to your mobile device.


Joe Phelps is an evangelist. And he's bringing people to God in new and innovative ways. Here are my notes from the interview:

Address Conflict

Any sort of growth means change, that means inevitable conflict. Joe, with a graduate degree in reconciliation, strongly advises against avoiding the conflict. What's best is to address it pastorally, with an eye to listening to the other party and being willing to change your point of view if needed.

We Do Weddings!

Joe's congregation began by placing a small ad in a Louisville bridal magazine before word got out. Now he's had to hire someone to do all the weddings as people have not been afraid to not only pay the church, but to go through counseling. Several couples and couples' relatives have joined as a result.

Liturgy is 'In' Again

Joe says he's not changed too much  

About Joe Phelps

Joe Phelps begins his 17th year as pastor of Highland Baptist Church, a progressive voice of faith in Louisville, Kentucky. Joe is a frequent guest columnist for the Louisville Courier-Journal, and a frequent contributor and board member for His book, More Light, Less Heat, invites Christians from opposing sides of conflict to explore a different form of interaction.

Books Joe Recommends

Waste Land

A New Kind of Christianity: Ten Questions That Are Transforming the Faith

Taken with permission from