By Sharon Mager
COLUMBIA, Md.—Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network Church Multiplication Strategist David Jackson, reporting for the Church Multiplication Team at the quarterly General Mission Board meeting on Sept. 9 at the Baptist Network Center, said a new Thai church plant in Rockville is the 51st plant underway this year, and two additional starts before the year’s end would make 2014 a historic year in church multiplication.
“Someone once said the only constant in life is change, and that’s certainly the world of church planting and multiplication,” Jackson said. “Church planting is a dynamic process. Every year we are seeking to increase, to improve, to modify, and to adapt the process to help us be more effective in what we do to assist our church plants in their work.”
Jackson said there are new training initiatives for planters combining elements from Focused Living training with “Lead Like Jesus” that are producing “dynamic and exciting” results.
In addition, five new churches used “Love Your Neighbor—Share Christ” evangelism material and are seeing great results, Jackson reported.
Jackson is especially pleased to announce a new lead partner for Baltimore efforts in church planting. Ron Sylvia is the founding pastor of The Church @The Springs, Ocala, Fla., a mega-church in the South that is leading in the area of church planting. “It’s his heart, his passion and his desire,” Jackson said. Sylvia will come alongside church planting efforts in the greater Baltimore metro area to impact as many as possible, bringing as many partners along in the process. Sylvia will be so invested he will bring teaching, training, coaching, peer learning groups and will assist planters to strengthen their marriages through retreats and other events.
Shelley Allen is the new church planting assessment coordinator. Allen ministered as a family ministry associate at First Baptist Church of Waldorf and also worked as a church-starting communications associate with the Strategic Focus City emphasis in Baltimore. She married Josh Allen, a pastor in New Mexico and the couple was even in discussion about potential church planting at one point. Allen’s husband died in an auto accident earlier this year, and she has moved back to this area.
Jackson said Allen has a “loving, warm, optimistic, hopeful heart.” “She will be a great voice for us as she deals with potential candidates in church planting, with a detailed orientation that will help us not to miss a thing.
“Jesus said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ He’s in the process of redeeming people to Himself, and it is such a wonderful, joyful privilege for us to have the experience to be able to partner with him in what He is doing,” Jackson said.
Jackson said the only thing not new is Jesus himself. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. His life-giving relationship is why we plant churches and it still makes a difference. He cited 17 people making confessions of faith and being baptized in Westernport; 10 in Arnold; 52 in Middletown, Del.; eight in Hagerstown, and 12 in Annapolis. “I could go on and on,” Jackson said.
“Yes, church planting is all about change. Jesus calls us to go make disciples and to be His witnesses here, and wherever we go.”