By Shannon Baker
BCM/D National Correspondent
COLUMBIA, Md.—It was his official first day on the job.
Will McRaney, the new executive missional strategist for the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware, walked straight off the airplane from Orlando, Fla., and into meetings with several pastors from Maryland and Delaware. Prearranged in prior weeks, these meetings continued for two days.
During this time, he also met with eight of the 11 associational directors of missions.
McRaney, a former seminary professor and state convention evangelism strategist, wanted to personally meet each leader, hoping to quickly learn about their churches and their mission fields. (Click here to learn more about Dr. Will McRaney.)
In coming weeks, McRaney will continue having these “listening sessions” in five regional meetings throughout the multi-state convention and at the Columbia office. Details are forthcoming.
The next week, during the traditionally set aside “Staff Planning Days” at the convention offices, McRaney reserved time to train in what he feels is the foundational work of every BCM/D employee, network church, pastor and Christ-follower: “loving others enough to share Christ!”
He and former colleague Jeff Hessinger, team strategist for the Florida Baptist Convention’s Personal Evangelism team, outlined Love Your Neighbor, Share Christ, an evangelism emphasis they developed to assist churches develop their own unique evangelistic strategy.
Their presentation was weighted with passion and an overtly apparent conviction that evangelism is top priority.
“The big take-away for me was Dr. McRaney’s statement that ‘the most loving thing a person can do for another person is to share Christ with them,’” shared Ellen Udovich, BCM/D’s team strategist for missions and evangelism. “Love Your Neighbor, Share Christ is built upon two key biblical commands: the Great Commandment (‘love God, love people’) and the Great Commission (‘go and tell’).”
Udovich said she liked it is not a program that comes in a box but rather a flexible model that can be used by any church to develop their own evangelism strategy for reaching their community.
“There are great resources here for churches who are doing a good job of loving and connecting people to Christ as well as for churches who want to connect but don’t know where to start,” she said.
The Love Your Neighbor, Share Christ model focuses on six “evangelism expressions,” which McRaney suggests can be done in any order, based on where the church happens to be in the life of their church: prayer; enjoy and serve; evangelism training; friendly up the church; bridging and harvesting efforts; and connecting and deploying disciples.
While focus can be placed on any one of these expressions at a time, together they incorporate the essential parts of church life necessary to be engaged and for evangelism to be more fruitful.
“It’s like a toolbox for pastors and churches: each church will find useful ideas, resources and processes to help them accomplish their mission in their unique community,” Udovich said. “I think a lot of pastors will find this material to be very helpful.”
David Jackson, BCM/D’s team strategist for church multiplication, said he was “energized” by the Love Your Neighbor, Share Christ evangelism strategy.
“It is simple, yet customizable, for every local church. It provides so many tools in a variety of ways and settings for each person to share God’s heartbeat of salvation. It weds the servant evangelism we hear about so much today with the sharing strategies necessary to inform people of the Gospel message,” he said, adding, “LYNSC is a perfect marriage for our newest churches, and one that should be taken seriously by all our churches—young or old—especially if they lack a vibrant, working strategy currently.”
Jackson, who has known McRaney for 15 years and knows “him to be a man of integrity, character and passion for our Lord,” is excited about McRaney’s new position.
“McRaney’s expertise in teaching, writing, and speaking have made him a national voice in the Southern Baptist arena for many years,” Jackson said. “At the same time, he is an experiential voice from the fields of ministry, having served in both the local church and at the denominational level.”
Jackson added, “He is a people person, interested, approachable and relational. I am excited to see where God is leading us together in the days ahead with Dr. McRaney at the helm.”
“I am impressed that Dr. McRaney was so church focused and mission-centric,” noted Randy Millwood, BCM/D’s team strategist for church wellness. “By that, I mean his first efforts in coming to the BCM/D were to connect with BCM/D pastors and teach evangelism.”
He noted that even before his Oct. 1 start date, McRaney worked pro bono to begin the effort of connecting with pastors and staff and to get to know them and hear their hearts.
For Millwood, who has worked alongside McRaney on the faculty at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and in a New Orleans church plant, he is not surprised at McRaney’s evangelistic zeal.
Ultimately, a legitimate sign of spiritual growth and health is the fruit showing up through the sharing of one’s faith, Millwood said. “The ‘church on mission’ is what Dr. McRaney is focused on. He wants the churches to be lighthouses—communities of faith reaching out to their communities.”
Millwood also noted McRaney’s intentional desire to create common language in the Love Your Neighbor, Share Christ evangelism endeavor: to “love your neighbors” and do it so much that you “share Christ” with them.
That IS the ultimate demonstration of love, Millwood agreed.
Presently, the “Love Your Neighbor, Share Christ” materials are being customized for Maryland and Delaware. If you are interested in learning more, contact Donna Shiflett at email@example.com, who will forward the materials once available.