Below is the outline of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware’s (BCM/D) Vision 2025 Cooperative Efforts, which will be presented at the BCM/D’s 2021 Annual Meeting on Nov. 15.
Goal — Plant 50 new churches during the 2022-2025 time period.
Living organisms naturally reproduce. Just as humans grow, get married, and produce offspring, so churches mature and should naturally reach a point where they reproduce through church planting by birthing a new congregation. Working cooperatively together, here are ways we can see more churches planted.
Churches — Facilitate church planting in at least one of the following ways:
- Plant a church
- Send individuals to participate in a nearby church plant
- Support a church plant through prayer and financial resources
- Develop a pipeline to identify, train, and send people to plant churches
Associations — Work in collaboration with state and national partners to facilitate cooperation and push against competition in relation to church planting.
BCM/D — Maintain effective collaboration with SEND Network staff, encourage pipelines, mentoring, internships, and residencies to enable BCM/D congregations to participate in planting, promote the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering, and develop partnerships from other regions of the country.
Goal — 100 churches engaging in revitalization efforts before 2025.
That 70% of Southern Baptist churches remain plateaued or in decline speaks to the urgent need for revitalization. Mark Clifton, the senior director of replanting at the North American Mission Board, says a healthy or revitalized church is “one that has a reputation for making disciples who make disciples and whose community is noticeably better because of the existence of the church.” Here is how we can work cooperatively together to become such churches:
Churches — Request and participate in a local church health assessment and work to improve weak areas revealed by the assessment.
Associations — Promote and encourage both associational and state convention-sponsored revitalization events.
BCM/D — Conduct health assessments for churches, host annual revitalization events, and consult with churches leading them to consider merger, replant, and revitalization options.
Goal — 10,000 baptisms from 2022-2025.
In the last decade, baptisms in the SBC declined 29%, going from 331,008 in 2010 to 235,745 in 2019. The same trend was even more pronounced in the BCM/D over that same time period: BCM/D churches are baptizing far fewer people in the last few years than we did in 2010, approaching a 50% decline in baptisms. Here is how we can cooperatively work to reverse that trend and reach our goal:
Churches — Commit to conducting evangelism training for their members and reporting their baptisms through the Annual Church Profile (ACP).
Associations — Work with their member churches to compile ACP statistics and host at least one annual joint baptism service for their churches.
BCM/D — Help associations gather ACP statistics, provide evangelism training for churches, and host an annual evangelism conference beginning in 2022.
Goal — 1,000,000 missional engagements among BCM/D churches during 2022-2025.
The Great Commission calls us to go to our own community (Jerusalem), our region (Judea and Samaria), and to the world. This missional engagement goal holds this call before us all and challenges us to greater gospel involvement. We can more effectively fulfill this commission as we work together cooperatively in the following ways:
Churches — Provide opportunities both locally and abroad for members to be involved in missions and report that involvement through the ACP.
Associations — Provide two opportunities annually for member churches to engage in missional activity on a more regional scale (county fairs, campus ministry, immigrant ministry, and other outreaches).
BCM/D — Assist churches in fostering missional partnerships so they might engage their community and the nations and work with national partners to find ways to provide resourcing that enable such engagements.
COOPERATIVE PROGRAM (CP) GIVING
Goal — See CP giving grow from its current level to $4,000,000 by 2025.
Although CP giving has seen a decline both on the national level and within the BCM/D, we can work together cooperatively to reverse that trend by encouraging percentage giving and promoting giving to the local church. Specifically, that will involve the following:
Churches — Transition to giving to both the CP and local association on a percentage basis and work to grow that percentage on an incremental basis each year.
Associations — Work with churches to encourage financial reporting through the ACP.
BCM/D — Tell the story of what CP giving helps to accomplish and serve member churches, so they are confident their CP dollars are a worthwhile kingdom investment.
CARING WELL FOR THE VULNERABLE
Goal — 100% participation of BCM/D churches engaging in the Caring Well initiative by 2025. Caring Well is a unified call to action among our SBC churches to stop the tragedy of physical/sexual/emotional abuse by providing pathways to enhance protective measures for vulnerable people groups as well as care for abuse survivors.
Churches should be a safe haven for all, but too often, they can be the very place where abuse occurs. Together, we can work to ensure that the vulnerable are protected and that those who have suffered abuse can receive the compassion, protection, and care they deserve. This will involve the following:
Churches — Develop and institute child security measures including, but not limited to, background checks for all workers with minors and follow “best practices procedures” in regard to the enlistment of workers and reporting of incidents.
Associations — Work in conjunction with the state convention to remove any financial barrier preventing their member churches from doing background checks on all youth and children’s workers, making them affordable and possible for ALL churches.
BCM/D — Partner with associations and churches to make resources available for churches to implement the Caring Well initiative (including helping to make ongoing counseling available for any abuse survivor) and provide ongoing training sessions for churches to access so that every church is following “best practices” in regard to protecting vulnerable people groups.
Cover Photo- baptism at Church of the Harbor, Essex,used with permission