By Sharon Mager, BCM/D Correspondent
SALISBURY, Md.—There are 46 churches in the Eastern Baptist Association (EBA). Reid Sterrett, who officially took the reigns as Director of Missions (DOM) in February, plans for that number to double within a decade. Church planting and strengthening existing churches are the top priorities for the EBA.
Sterrett, who has been leading the EBA as the interim DOM since 2011, has already spearheaded significant changes in the association in preparation the growth. He immediately reduced staff and sold the EBA building, transitioning the association to an all-virtual operation, cutting overhead costs and freeing necessary funds.
He wants to help plateaued and declining churches by providing networking opportunities and training, including participation in LifeWay’s Transformational Church process.
Sterrett also firmly believes churches need to define their vision. He has a goal of helping every church in the association develop a written vision statement.
“We want to help them understand why they exist–not just a mission statement but a vision, in the heart and mind of the pastor, who clearly articulates it to the congregation and community,” he said.
During his interim period, EBA became a church planting center, an environment to intentionally identify and develop church planters and leaders. Currently, six participants are interning to become planters or part of a church planting team.
Sterrett stepped forward as interim when the association was going through a transition period following the unexpected death of long-time DOM Bruce Revel. Sterrett helped in the DOM search, poring over 100 resumes. When they narrowed it down to one candidate, and offered the position, only to be turned down, Reid began to feel God calling him.
“Over time I felt God beginning to do a work in me. I have always had a passion and desire to serve pastors,” Sterrett said.
The Eastern Association covers the Delmarva Peninsula serving 970,000 people spread out over a huge geographic region, much of it rural. The association is looking at a variety of church planting models, using bi-vocational pastors, home churches, and utilizing abandoned real estate from other denominations.
There’s also the issue of visiting EBA churches each year to build relationships. It’s not feasible. Sterrett is looking at a possible new model of breaking down and distributing that workload using a shared ministry type of model and assigning territories to designated leaders.
The association is uniquely diverse and rural, with a large immigrant population serving the poultry and agricultural industry. There are large Hispanic, Haitian and Korean populations. Sterrett also works with Lynn Davis, who oversees the resort ministry in Ocean City, ministering to hundreds of young internationals each summer.
Sterrett came to Christ as a 20-year old while serving in the army. He returned home and shared his newfound faith with his then girlfriend, Mary. The two married shortly afterwards and began attending and were baptized at Lynn Haven Baptist Church. Sterrett felt called to ministry, and Kerry Hinton, pastor of Lynn Haven, ordained him. Hinton encouraged Sterrett to participate in the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware’s church planting assessment. The couple got the green light and returned to plant Soul Discovery Church, which lasted a decade.
Reid and Mary Sterrett have three daughters: Madelyn, 16, Mariah, 13, and Mallory, 12. Sterrett enjoys physical and outdoor sports including racquetball, biking, hunting and fishing.
He requests prayers.
“We need support for the big task ahead of us. It is unachievable by our own hands,” he said.
“It is very exciting time…there is a lot of opportunity before us.”