By Shannon Baker, BCM/D National Correspondent
EDINBURGH, Scotland—Andy Scarcliffe has a heart for the church and knows that partnerships are key to seeing churches grow.
Scarcliffe, mission advisor to the Baptist Union of Scotland, is one of the speakers for Connect 2010, the annual meeting of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware, to be held Nov. 14-16 at the Sheraton Towson at 903 Dulaney Valley Road in Towson, Md.
He will lead a breakout session entitled “Reaching People with the Gospel across the Pond” and will speak alongside Jeff Palmer from Baptist Global Resource (BGR) at a Missions Partnership dinner.
In his role at the Baptist Union of Scotland, Scarcliffe helps churches think freshly about mission to a post-Christian culture. Previously serving 25 years as pastor of three churches allowed him to experiment with doing church in non-church culture. His previous church met in a high-end fitness club, which gave lots of opportunities to share the Gospel with people unfamiliar with church. Invited by the club, they held their yearly Christmas carol service in the main club concourse, complete with carols and video clips, with the bar open, and a standing room only crowd of 300 to 400 people.
Scarcliffe also helps churches move from maintenance to mission and to think about church planting.
To assist in the mission, the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware began a partnership about six years ago. The effort has been varied—some churches have helped with children’s missions, some have been adult missions, and some have done practical renovation work, he said, noting how positive the interaction has been.
“My involvement with the Maryland/Delaware partnership has been one of a lasting friendship, second to none,” shared Adam Plenderleith, a Baptist minister in Scotland, admitting that at first he was slightly suspicious about why Christian brothers and sisters from across the pond wanted to partner with them. “Were they of a mind to convert Scottish heathens?” he wondered.
In December 2002, he and other Baptist ministers from the Argyll Association received an invitation to visit Maryland/Delaware.
“We were amazed by the genuine desire not to Americanize Scotland, but to walk with us assisting us in our roles. On Islay, we benefitted from holiday clubs, laughter, painting, wall demolition, laughter, school involvement, [we even had a nuclear physicist helping to refurbish the high school office], more laughter, and so on,” he shared. “The folks were a delight to serve alongside and were keen to explore innovative ways of presenting the Gospel.”
Scarcliffe is thankful for the partnership and urges BCM/D churches to continue praying for the churches is Scotland, many of which are declining in attendance.
“The recession has hit many of the smaller churches taking them below the line of being able to afford to pay ministers,” Scarcliffe shared. “Changes in culture mean that the smaller, sometimes more traditional churches are even less able to share the Gospel in a way that is meaningful to post-Christian people.”
Adding that churches are less able to act creatively ‘outside the box,’” he asked, “Please pray for a new way of embracing smallness that is not seen as defeatist, but radical and subversive.”
To learn more about breakout sessions held during the Connect conference, visit online at http:/am.bcmd.org.