By Sharon Mager, BCM/D Correspondent
TOWSON, Md.-—Valley Baptist Church is on a mission and each member is working to discover his or her personal mission field.
“Missions used to be about going on mission trips and only highly trained specialized people did long-term missions. Now everyone is struggling to see themselves as a missionary and every believer is working to find his or her own people group,” Jeff Elkins, associate pastor of Valley Church, said.
Elkins said church members are looking at their people groups as neighbors, members of their community associations, parents and friends at local schools and recreation leagues. Some members are working with the homeless community and others are ministering to prostitutes.
“It’s changed how we view discipleship,” Elkins said. As members go out and minister, they learn together. Each quarter they meet to assess how they’re doing, what tools they need to develop and how they can improve.
“That shift in understanding discipleship has brought radical lifestyle changes. It’s brought new energy and life to the congregation. It has excited everyone about chasing Jesus.”
Church member Adam Hartry leads a group from Valley that ministers alongside Baltimore Street Church, serving breakfasts to the homeless and poverty stricken community. Hartry sometimes preaches at the church. Last summer, members of Valley Church, partnering with Baltimore Street Church, took homeless people to Ocean City—some for the first time.
The church is a year into the long-term plan, and they’re already seeing growth with over 20 new members and several confessions of faith.
Senior Pastor Rick Cash said the church has always taught the idea of every believer is a missionary. “Now we’re being intentional. That is the major difference. We’re doing rather than saying, combining word and deed as James says.”
“We get locked into life and routine and think of church as a series of programs. We forget that we’re supposed to be living on mission,” Elkins said.
For more information about Valley Church visit their website, www.valleybaptistchurch.org.