Posted on : Tuesday October 9, 2012

By Sharon Mager, BCM/D Correspondent

COLUMBIA, Md.—Six Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware (BCM/D) churches and one association are participating in a North American Mission Board (NAMB) sponsored nine-month journey to ultimately become church planting centers (CPC).

While the word “center” generally refers to an actual physical place, in this context, it’s an intentional environment where indigenous church planters and leaders are identified, supported, trained and equipped.

“Church planting centers can become the catalyst to a church planting movement in any given region,” David Jackson, BCM/D church multiplication missionary said.

Churches participating through the NAMB program are: Riva Trace Baptist Church, Davidsonville; ConeXiones Church, Columbia; Iglesia Bautista Hispana de Rockville; Healing Waters Bible International Church, Bear, Del.; Iglesia Bautista Hispana de Cambridge; and SonRise Church, Berlin. Eastern Baptist Association is also committing to become a NAMB-sponsored church planting center.

Jackson said the churches participating are committed to make church planting important and will be intentional about it.

“It starts with the mindset…talking it up, giving people permission to be part of the journey,” Jackson said, adding that it may mean letting people leave a church to extend the kingdom by starting or helping a plant.

The NAMB process includes interactions with a national leader, coaching sessions with seasoned practitioners, working to define strategies and follow-up assignments that help develop those strategies.

Eastern Baptist Association’s “center” is made up of several different churches working together, including: Harvest Baptist Church, Salisbury; Ocean City Baptist Church; First Baptist Church, Easton; Immanuel Baptist Church, Salisbury; and Soul Discovery Church, Salisbury. Reid Sterrett, Eastern Association’s director of missions, is excited about the possibilities.

“What Reid has done is create a situation unique in Southern Baptist life. In all other instances in Maryland/Delaware, church planting centers are focused on one congregation. Reid has taken the association and said, ‘Let’s create synergy and do it together.’”

The Association has already identified one candidate, Adam Muhtaseb, now serving as a collegiate pastor at Salisbury University. Muhtaseb is working with several churches involved in the CPC to mentor and support him as he seeks to identify church planting leaders involved in collegiate ministry and as he himself prepares to eventually start a church.

Jackson said church planting and these “centers” have the potential to not only birth new churches, but revitalize the ones participating.