By Sharon Mager
COLUMBIA, Md.—Reflecting on his two years serving Maryland/Delaware Baptists, Kevin Smith, Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware (BCM/D) executive director, told the BCM/D General Mission Board (GMB), that he perceived three challenges when he arrived in 2016:
- Strengthen the BCM/D’s relationship with the North American Mission Board (NAMB)
- Serve, assist and consult with pastors and church leadership
- Develop the unity/identity of the BCM/D
“I’m thankful for the way things are going, and I give God the praise for that,” Smith said at the Sept. 4 meeting at the Baptist Mission Resource Center. BCM/D and NAMB enjoy a good relationship, and church planting is going exceptionally well. “We have a great cohesive relationship, working together with one kingdom purpose.”
He is especially pleased to have a full complement of church planting catalysts provided by NAMB that includes Rolando Castro, James Choi, and Dan Hyun. Hyun began ministering with the BCM/D on Sept. 1.
Smith also referenced an excellent relationship with NAMB’s SEND CITY Missionary Clint Clifton, who splits his time between Baltimore and Washington.
Mike Crawford, BCM/D state director of missions, responding to Smith’s remarks, said. “Church planting is the best it has been in four years,” Crawford told GMB members that over a dozen BCM/D churches are planning to start churches within the next two years.
Also, BCM/D partners with NAMB for church replanting. Out of 500-plus churches, there are sometimes four or five in crisis situations that need help, and they may benefit from replanting, merging, or other options.
“Ultimately, our concern is making disciples and baptizing them and reaching out into various communities,” Smith emphasized.
Regarding the second challenge of assisting and consulting with pastors and churches, Smith said filling some key positions on staff will further enable the BCM/D to serve churches effectively. Currently, there is a search underway for a lead team member for church services and a support staff person. Also, longtime Maryland pastors John Gauger and Mike Trammel are both serving as part-time consultants in the area of church services.
Another way Smith plans to assist churches is by “retooling” BCM/D church services, strategically positioning consultants to be “go-to” professionals to serve pastors and lay leaders, especially for those churches expecting a pastoral transition in the next three to five years.
Smith also wants to provide opportunities for seminary students to serve internships in Maryland/Delaware, providing a win-win situation—the students get experience and pastors get extra help. Smith said, “Single staff and sometimes bi-vocational pastors can benefit from another hand on deck in ministry.” He is currently seeking unused parsonages and other vacant property for this purpose.
Regarding BCM/D’s identity, or “brand,” Smith said BCM/D’s Identity is not a label. “It is an identity of who we are as brothers and sisters in Christ advancing the kingdom here in these two states, seeking to strengthen and plant churches like it has been done since 1836.”
In response to the need for consistent branding, the GMB administrative committee approved a new position of “creative director, and Reginald “Reggie” Davis, from Kentucky, will assume that role on Sept. 24. Davis has a background in creative design, marketing, and website design. Smith said Davis would help with the branding, and train other creatives, as well as well as help intentionally promote Cooperative Program (CP), the central and preferred conduit of Great Commission funding among Southern Baptists.
Missions giving through CP is a part of helping congregations, Smith stressed. The convention must strengthen CP by reversing the decline, which followed the economic downturn of 2008 and subsequent changes in the BCM/D’s leadership.
Smith shared that last year the BCM/D took a huge step of faith by increasing CP giving to national entities from 43.5 percent to 48 percent. “We made a major jump, and we’re committed to pressing forward,” he said.