By Shannon Baker
BCM/D National Correspondent
COLUMBIA, Md.— Will McRaney, former Florida Baptist Convention church-planting and evangelism strategist/director and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary professor, has been named the new executive director of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware.
On Sept. 10, 2013, the BCM/D General Mission Board voted unanimously to call McRaney to fill the position vacated by David Lee, who retired from the Columbia, Md.-based convention on July 31.
The search team, consisting of Charlie Brown, associate pastor of Dunkirk (Md.) Baptist Church; BCM/D president, Robert Anderson, pastor of Colonial Baptist Church in Randallstown, Md.; past convention president Ken Stalls, pastor of South End Baptist Church in Frederick, Md.; Bernard Fuller, pastor of New Song Bible Fellowship in Bowie, Md., and Jim Jeffries, pastor of LaVale (Md.) Baptist Church, “wholeheartedly” recommended him to the General Mission Board.
McRaney, 50, sees his new role as an executive missional strategist.
“While there are organizational and legal matters that impact our churches, our primary purpose as churches and the BCM/D is to be on mission in expanding God’s Kingdom for His glory,” McRaney said. “I am excited about the journey I will share with our churches and their leaders.”
Since 2011, he has served as team strategist for the English-speaking church planting team for the Florida Baptist Convention in Jacksonville, Fla. Before that, he directed the convention’s evangelism strategy department.
McRaney’s “work started in evangelism and finalized in church planting—two of the Florida Baptist Convention’s top priorities,” said Dr. John Sullivan, executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention. “He has proven to be a wonderful and productive servant of the Lord. He has a great work ethic and a very bright mind. Dr. McRaney will do well in his new assignment leading Maryland-Delaware Baptists. We will miss him.”
He moved back to his native Florida to return to field ministry after weathering the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina at New Orleans Seminary. At the seminary, he served as professor of evangelism, occupying the Max and Bonnie Thornhill Chair of Evangelism, 2001-2007, and the Cecil B. Day Chair of Church Planting, 1996-2000. He taught multiple evangelism and church planting courses for master of divinity students as well as professional and research doctoral candidates.
Originally from Dade City, Fla., McRaney is the co-founder and senior consultant for the Ministry Enhancement Group, which exists to increase the effectiveness of Christian leaders, church planters and churches by providing them with biblically based and cutting-edge methods, strategies, and training that will enable them to lead the church of the 21st Century.
A church planter assessor and training system designer, McRaney has researched, written about and spoken extensively on personal and church evangelism, church growth and health, church planting, leadership, revitalization, church models, postmodernism and cultural trends.
Describing it as “the greatest overall contribution the Lord has led [him] to make to date,” McRaney created “Love Your Neighbor – Share Christ,” a church evangelism strategy design model to assist churches in designing their holistic model for evangelism in any context. This model, which addresses the major challenges of evangelism, has helped boost evangelistic efforts in Asia, India, Brazil, Haiti, Cuba and all across Florida, among other places.
It was during the development of this model that McRaney was in a life-threatening head-on car accident with a drunk driver. He suffered critical injuries, including broken legs and a broken arm, but has since made full recovery.
McRaney has written several books, including “The Choice: Life’s Most Important Decisions – 40 Day Experience,” published by LifeWay Christian Resources, 2005; and the widely used “The Art of Personal Evangelism: Sharing Christ in a Changing Culture,” published by Broadman and Holman, 2003; and many articles, such as “Church Planting as a Growth Strategy in the Face of Church Decline,” published by the “Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry” in Fall 2003.
McRaney also has experience in the pastorate. He was founding pastor of Life Church in Mandeville, La., 1997-99, lead pastor at Daybreak Community Church in Littleton, Colo., 1992-1996, and pastor of Jackson Avenue Baptist Church in Pascagoula, Miss., 1987-1991.
The first time McRaney ever preached outside of his home church was at First Baptist Church in Moss Point, Miss., in March 1987. A seminary student at the time, McRaney was filling in for David Lee, who was serving there as pastor.
McRaney holds two degrees from New Orleans Seminary: a doctor of philosophy degree in evangelism and discipleship, 1992; and a master of divinity degree in biblical studies, 1989. He earned a bachelor of arts in business administration from Mississippi State University, where he played both football and baseball.
He has also served as adjunct professor of evangelism and church planting at Liberty Baptist Seminary in Lynchburg, Va., and as adjunct professor at Denver Seminary and Colorado Christian University in Denver, Colo.
He and his wife, Sandy Vandevender McRaney, have three children, Blakeney, Hadley, and Macy.
When asked about his initial thoughts about the future, McRaney said, “Sandy and I are looking forward to seeing the hand of the Lord move in our churches and across Maryland and Delaware in the coming years.”
“It is a brand new day for Maryland/Delaware Baptists. We are grateful to God for leading us to Will and Sandy McRaney,” said Bob Simpson, BCM/D’s associate executive director and chief operations officer. “They will bring new energy and fresh eyes to help us amplify our impact in this region. We are praying for them as they make their transition.”