BALTIMORE, Md.—The Banquet Network (TBN) is a special needs ministry tool that has the potential to revolutionize the way churches minister to this huge unreached people group. Based on Luke 14, the purpose of the new network is to inspire churches trans-denominationally to glimpse God’s heart for embracing, serving, and empowering families who experience disability and then to equip and resource those churches. It’s a simple, profound idea that Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware (BCM/D) State Director of Missions and TBN Founder Michael Crawford hopes will catch on like “uncontained wildfire!”
At an informational meeting on July 29 at Freedom Church, Baltimore, Crawford was excited at the experience, talent and enthusiasm represented in the room from teachers, therapists, ministry leaders, parents of children with special needs, and several individuals with special needs issues.
One attendee, Tommy Rowe, who served many years as a family minister with First Baptist Church, Laurel, is in the process of beginning a special needs church that will launch in the fall of 2018 at Cresthill Baptist Church.
“Just think of how much we can do with just the people in this room?” Crawford said.
Claudia Crawford, Michael’s daughter, is serving as a part-time administrative assistant. She will compile the database that will be the heart of The Banquet Network. It will include individuals, resource materials, organizations and experts who will be able to advise and support churches. When a church catches the vision, and makes a step forward to begin reaching and serving those with disabilities, then members of the network can partner with them and connect them with relevant resources.
Our primary strategy is prayer,” Crawford emphasized. “We’re going to need God to do some amazing things. We will pray about everything, and we will pray through everything.”
To participate in the network, Michael Crawford recommends attending any upcoming informational meetings, visiting the network website, and participating in an in-person or phone meeting with an assimilation team member. Those churches that affiliate with The Banquet Network will be recognized as intentionally striving to reach and include people and families with special needs and disabilities.
There are no financial obligations to join. Individuals, churches, and several non-profit organizations, including BCM/D, support the network.
BCM/D Chief Financial Officer, Tom Stolle, a vocal and passionate speaker for special needs ministries said, “We are excited to support the network—to advance the cause of ministries to and with families affected by disabilities.”