By Sharon Mager
COLUMBIA, Md.—During the May 5 General Mission Board (GMB) meeting, Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network leaders reported on progress made by their teams, as follows:
Church Multiplication Team
Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network Church Multiplication Strategist Michael Crawford said the Network is on track to break the record for the most church plants in a year. God is doing amazing things, Crawford said, adding that there are challenges regarding resources to support those plants, but God will supply the need and wisdom to move forward.
“NAMB [North American Mission Board] has been a strategic partner with me to help solve these problems. It has been great to cooperate and partner with them.
“The overall trajectory is well. There are areas to ‘shore up,’ but we are really excited at what God is doing with planters. Currently there are 20 names in the assessment process.
“Rolando Castro and Robert Kim (language church multiplication strategists) are doing an extraordinary job,” Crawford said. There are church planting opportunities in the Muslim and Jewish communities as well as some overseas.
There have already been several training events for planters this year, including an initial boot camp. Many other training events are planned to equip them for the work they are doing.
Evangelism and Mission Strategy Team
Joel Rainey, Network team strategist for evangelism and mission strategy reporting for the Engagement Team, shared how God opened doors in Baltimore to feed 1,000 people cheesesteak subs. As he and Crawford toured the city after the riots and prayed with people, the men stopped for food – cheesesteaks.
They began thinking about how they could possibly feed the city and police and military personnel with the subs. God moved in a mighty way, allowing the restaurant owner to be able to supply the food and God even opened the door for local officials to give permission very quickly to allow the Network to serve the food and water in front of the burned and looted CVS Pharmacy, the “ground zero” location of the unrest and riots.
Rainey, Crawford, McRaney, Baltimore church leaders and others served the food to residents, police, military, and even gang members on the day officials read aloud the charges against the police officers involved in the Freddie Gray case.
“We were demonstrating peace in the middle of chaos,” Rainey said. The ability to successfully approach government officials was the strength of the Network, representing over 500 churches, Rainey said.
He added, “If we can reach neighborhoods, we can reach the world.” Rainey said the same things happening in Baltimore are happening throughout the world, the names are just different. Replace the word “looters” with “armed bandits,” and “gang members” with “terrorist groups” in other countries.
“In the name of Jesus, we address it ten miles down the road or across the ocean,” Rainey said.
“God is moving in the city and moving in our region and the question is, will we join Him? He doesn’t need us. If we do business as usual that’s fine, He’ll get His mission accomplished with or without us. I want to be involved and I think you do too,” Rainey said.
There’s a wide open door. “We don’t know what’s on the other side. Let’s walk through it.”
Collegiate Ministries Team
In a written report, Mike McQuitty, Network team strategist for collegiate ministries, reports that collegiate evangelism leaders continue to see God move in amazing ways.
— Seven people have given their lives to Jesus at the University of Delaware so far this year.
— In addition, 29 international students are involved in weekly conversational English with partners from the Baptist Student Ministry (BSM).
— The University of Maryland Baltimore County Campus ministry partnered with Korean Campus Ministry at College Park, led by Laurel Korean Baptist Church. They saw 150 students attend a spring Coffee House outreach.
— Navy collegiate ministry averaged 160 Midshipmen in weekly large group worship.
— Six students from the University of Delaware will be doing international summer missions.
— Two students from Johns Hopkins University gave their lives to Christ after Easter. One is Peruvian and will participate in a church mission trip to Peru this summer.
— Two students from Towson BCM are part of a core team for a new Baltimore church plant and the Towson BSM has four small groups and a new large group meeting this year. In addition, several students who are part of the Towson BSM provided childcare for the Unplugged Conference in April.
Church Strengthening, Equipping and Encouraging Team
In a written Church Strengthening, Equipping and Encouraging Team report, Randy Millwood, Network team strategist for church strengthening, said about 40 pastors have participated in three lunch meetings to introduce Lead Like Jesus, a comprehensive set of resources designed to impact how people lead in the church and in their everyday lives. Other lunches are scheduled for the fall. One Network church has scheduled the full event for all of their members.
Peer learning groups (PLG’s) are designed to foster growth while providing relational support and accountability among pastors and other key ministry leaders. The strategy includes launching PLG’s out of the full one-day Leadership Encounter events. Other PLG’s have started around Love Your Neighbor/Share Christ.
The Network continues to provide crisis care for churches in conflict and for pastors in crisis.
Recent activities the team has been involved in include the annual Ministers/Mate Retreat hosted by Will and Sandy McRaney; Ministry Wife Retreat; a worship leader all-day event that resulted in four PLG’s; VBS/Backyard Kids Club clinics; a Kids Ministry Conference; Weekday Education Workshop and a Restore My Soul retreat.
“The desire of our church strengthening group is simple: equip and encourage the men and women who serve our churches as pastors, staff and key leaders,” Millwood said.