KEY WEST – Although he serves as a pastor at the southernmost tip of Florida, Josh Dryer has a passion for helping pastors in Florida and beyond understand their communities for the purpose of reaching new believers for Christ.
Dryer, pastor of Fifth Street Baptist Church in Key West since 2018, fulfills this calling by providing pastors with findings from demographic and psychographics research.
Demographics include information on income, language, racial diversity, types of jobs and needs. Psychographics is the study of personality, values, opinions, attitudes, interests and lifestyles. Together, the two methods provide pastors with insights into their communities and helps them develop an effective strategy to reach those around them.
“Demographic data is gold in the ground,” said Dryer, as he assists pastors “mine” the information gold. He presents the data in easy-to-understand infographics.
Then he meets with pastors and “help them interpret the data. To do that I ask them specific questions about how they can use that data to build ministries,” explained Dryer.
“Most pastors see the importance of demographics studies but either don’t have the time or the expertise to interpret the findings,” said Al Fernandez, southeast regional catalyst for the Florida Baptist Convention.
Dryer, who received his doctorate from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri, honed these abilities while working with the Jacksonville Baptist Association from 2015 to 2018. “It’s a very useful skill and I didn’t want to just put it on the shelf and walk away.”
Instead, he decided to use his expertise to benefit churches. With years of experience in missions strategy and church planting, Dryer has helped more than 300 congregations recognize and discover the needs and concerns of residents living in their communities.
First Baptist Church in Fernandina Beach had a vision of starting a new campus in Northeast Florida. Dryer, consulting with executive pastor Dan Beckwith, helped the church “identify areas of high projected growth and investigated ministry contexts that would be conducive for a new campus,” he said.
Anthony Higgs, pastor of Pembroke Road Baptist Church in Miramar, consulted with Dryer about developing a strategy to better reach its diverse community with the Gospel. “We identified lower income and single parent families who may be in need of help from the church.”
The Alabama Baptist Convention enlisted Dryer’s skills to help them identify locations of unreached international people groups. “Next we are equipping local churches to adopt the people groups who live in their ministry contexts and to plant churches among them,” he said.
Some churches have even used the data in the search for a new pastor. “The data has helped churches who are seeking pastors find a pastor that resembles their community.”
For some churches, the consultations have led them to start childcare ministries for the young families in their communities and others have started Christian education programs to connect with those families.
Sometimes, the data can be surprising to pastors and their leaders.
“Most often churches are surprised to find the number of internationals and the ages of the people in their context of ministry,” he added.
Fernandez said Dryer is an example of how “Southern Baptist pastors cooperate with one another.”
“Pastor Josh has been a valuable partner to the Florida Baptist Convention Southeast Region,” shared Fernandez. “I am so grateful for his service to these diverse group of churches.”
Reaching Dryer is simple. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or through Florida Baptist Convention regional catalysts.