COLUMBIA, Md.—The Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network exists to intentionally assist in starting and strengthening congregations so that together we can fulfill Jesus’ commands in Matthew 28:19-20 and Acts 1:8. “We long to see the Great Confession, the Great Commission and the Great Commandments become a great reality in our day and our Network region,” said Network Church Strengthening Team Strategist Randy Millwood in a written report to the General Mission Board (GMB) for the GMB meeting on May 3 at the Network Center. Millwood shared several ways the team is working to invest in member congregations. These include:
• Discipleship Pathways
• Church Revitalization
• Equipping leaders
• Coaching pastors/pastoral staff
Regarding Church Revitalization, the team has several approaches designed to assist churches. These include:
• Re-start/legacy option to select churches
• Satellite partnerships where possible
• “Churches within churches,” when there is a distinct change in the community around a Church (ethnically, racially, etc.) This is currently in a conversational stage but the team believes it’s worth more exploration.
• Transitional interim pastors
• Doctor of Ministry project partnership with Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
• Continuing the use of our cohort model, AWAKEN, and offering continuing education opportunities for AWAKEN alumni.
Millwood said that in addition to the strategic thinking and Spirit-driven discernment work of the whole team, individual members have done exceptional networking.
• Women’s Ministry and WMU Strategist Melody Knox has developed new coaching relationships with a number of congregations, including a Church Plant.
• Worship/Music Strategist Phil Gifford, is attending pastor’s events in various associations, and has launched his first learning community. This group is building a regionally unique process for developing new worship leaders in the Mid-Atlantic (resources are tentatively scheduled for release during Annual Celebration).
• Children’s Ministry Strategist, June Holland, reports that over 500 VBS leaders have been equipped in three VBS Expo events. She is also coordinating a massive training partnership between the Network, four other regional state partners, and LifeWay. This “groups”-centered event is scheduled for August.
• A recent Lead Like Jesus Leadership Encounter, held in Cumberland, represented a cooperative effort between four Network churches, involved missional impact by involving public school teachers from a previously engaged Church/school partnership, and took place at a neutral location, using a new partnership with the YMCA. Millwood said, “We hope this becomes an example for future Encounters.”
The Network has entered into a strategic partnership with Blackaby Ministries to provide training in coaching informed by the “seven realities of experiencing God.” Millwood said the team is exploring a leadership development partnership with Dogwood Leadership that would provide two high-level leadership-equipping events annually. They have also deepened the relationship with Blessing Point Ministries to provide opportunities for confession and healing among the most troubled of Network churches.
(Condensed from a report by Randy Millwood on behalf of the Church Strengthening team.)