By Shannon Baker, BCM/D National Correspondent
COLUMBIA, Md.—The North American Mission Board recently recognized the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware with an award at the 2009 Summer State Leadership Meeting.
In this meeting, NAMB’s church planting group recognized several state conventions for outstanding church planting in 2008: Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware (first in enlistment); Illinois Baptist State Association (first in readiness/awareness); Georgia Baptist Convention (first in equipping); and the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (first in multiplication).
Presented on July 29, 2009, the award recognizes “excellence in enlisting planters and churches for a commitment to church planting among every people group in North America.”
“I am proud to be part of a team so committed to church planters and church planting churches. I’ve never known an organization so passionate, so dedicated to the church planting enterprise as the BCM/D,” shared David Jackson, BCM/D missionary for church multiplication. “Thanks, everyone, for letting me be a part of this journey.”
The North American Mission Board’s Church Planting Process’s four key components, readiness, enlistment, equipping and multiplication, are guided by both theological and missiological truths, and each has unique functions.
Defining the stages and components helps association directors of missions, state conventions, missionary staff, national missionaries, church planter missionaries, church planters, pastors, and laypeople understand their roles in each stage of development.
According to the North American Mission Board, the Readiness component builds awareness of lostness and the need to plant churches contextualized for each specific people group with our partners. Readiness includes items such as spiritual preparation, understanding the place or context of the plant, a discovery of people groups, climate building, and measuring and developing receptivity among the identified audience for the gospel.
The Enlistment component of the Church Planting Process engages individuals and churches through church planting activity. The enlistment focus is around discovering individuals, developing church planting teams, sponsoring churches who plant churches, and other partners such as associations and conventions.
The Equipping component of the Church Planting Process provides training, skill development, and nurture needed by churches, planters, planting teams, and other partners who work with them. Equipping includes items such as development of personal character, expansion of church planting knowledge, new skill development, and evaluation of missionary giftedness.
The final component of the Church Planting Process, Multiplication, is designed to foster church health, life, and growth in the newly planted churches. Multiplication includes items such as gospel saturation in new areas in order to plant churches, development of new disciples, creation of small groups with the emphasis towards them becoming a new church, leadership identification and discovery, and the birthing of healthy, New Testament churches.
Jackson explained that the Enlistment Award was given to the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware for 2008 because of multiple factors, including the strength of its indigenous recruitment, the use of BaptistLIFE, the Strategic Focus Cities efforts of EMBRACE Baltimore, church multiplication’s social media presence and its video recruitment tools on e-quip.net.
“We are convinced that it is important to communicate with potential church planters in the most up to date, innovative ways possible—in ways which are natural for them and their world,” says Jackson. “We attempt to help potential planters learn about what God is doing here in Maryland and Delaware through ‘24/7’ methods whenever possible, so that it is always accessible to them as they may need it. As a result, we have three blogs, two podcasts and two websites, along with multiple other online venues for potential planters to explore God’s calling to church planting.”
He adds, “Who knows when the Holy Spirit may prompt someone to consider partnering with us in the ministry of church planting? BCM/D can’t call them; we can only inform them. Being good stewards of this ministry requires we do what we can to allow the Spirit of God to do what only He can do.”
Under the leadership of Jackson, BCM/D’s Mid-Atlantic Church Multiplication specifically follows a seven-step process to help potential church planters:
First, there is preparation. This includes prayer efforts and site location, which is usually determined by Associational Directors of Missions or Parent Churches.
The second step is partnership, where a parent church, along with the association and even potentially other congregations or organizations, joins the new church planting efforts.
Third, there is recruitment of potential church planters, through the use of e-quip.net, Discovery Days and more of the above. Assessments help evaluate potential planters.
Fourth, the BCM/D provides comprehensive training, beginning with Focused Living and a basic training experiences for planters and their spouses.
The fifth step is nurture and support for the planter and his family. This includes a coach and mentor, peer learning clusters known as “New Church Incubators,” one-on-one and group interactions for spouses along with joint fellowship opportunities.
Sixth, the BCM/D focuses on evaluation through “pediatric check ups” over the course of the foundational development of the new church.
Finally, there is reproduction, in which church plants are prepared to become “parent churches” themselves.