Posted on : Tuesday December 3, 2013
Will McRaney, executive missional strategist at the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware

Will McRaney, executive missional strategist at the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware

By Shannon Baker, BCM/D National Correspondent

NEWARK, Del.—In his first address to the messengers of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware, BCM/D’s new executive missional strategist, Will McRaney, talked about the greatest act of love one can do—share the Gospel.

At Connect 2013, the convention’s annual meeting held Nov. 10-12 at Ogletown Baptist Church in Newark, Del., McRaney shared “his heart in a verse,” Ps. 78:72. “David shepherded them with integrity of heart and with skillful hands, he led them.”

“That’s my prayer for my serving you. I count my role as a matter of stewardship before the Lord and … all the people in this Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware,” he said.

McRaney acknowledged people want to know what love is, and they want to experience love. He described a recent way his wife Sandy showed love for him, as she diligently cared for him in the aftermath of a terrible car accident he experienced four years ago.

“What [Sandy] did for me was to provide love in the midst of my going through a 100-mph head-on accident, torn-up body, legs, knees, flew me in, blood clots, developed pulmonary emboli, and months and months and months of rehab.”

Realizing he really shouldn’t, by human standards, be standing, he said Sandy “watched when I went through 167 formal therapy sessions, surgeries, many threats.”

At the time, he was in the beginning stages of developing “Love Your Neighbor—Share Christ,” a strategy used to help churches with their own evangelism strategies.

In his message, McRaney gave the framework for this strategy, which is based on what he calls the greatest act of love one could ever do—sharing the Gospel with others.

He pointed to the greatest commandment in Luke 10:27, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Even magician Penn Jillette, from Penn & Teller, got it right, McRaney said. In a YouTube video, Jillette said, “I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. If you believe there is a heaven and a hell, and people are going to hell and will never get eternal life—whatever—and it’s not worth telling others because it is socially awkward for you…,” Jillette said. “Atheists believe you should leave people alone—keep your religion to yourself. How much do you have to hate someone not to proselytize? How much do you have to hate someone to believe there is everlasting life and not tell them about it?”

McRaney countered, “To share the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the ultimate act of love. I want to call us forward to love Him enough in spite of everything else that holds us back.”

To make his point, McRaney looked at three different Bible passages, beginning with Acts 3:1-10, to see three ways churches can love people without Christ.

First, they engage people.

In this passage, how many times had Peter and John walked by the Beautiful Gate? Many, many times they likely walked by the lame beggar, McRaney surmised.

Like the disciples, “how many people are we walking by that we are not even seeing? We just get in our habits, doing our thing, going to meetings… that we walk by the very people we could lead to Jesus. We have to see them first and then reach them for Christ.”

He added, “If we begin to see people, we will begin to pray for them by name,” thereby also engaging the Father as well.

Secondly, they begin to prepare for people without Christ.

Pointing to the Luke 15 passage of the “Prodigal Son,” McRaney says Bible readers often think of the prodigal son, the loving father and the older brother, but there is somebody else in the story: the servants who make preparations for the return of the prodigal son.

This is “a picture of what the church’s posture should be towards the prodigals as the Spirit of God draws people … and they come to the church.” Are they finding us more like the older brother or like the servants making preparations for them?
He also said it’s not just a church matter. “What about you and me individually? Are we prepared to give an account of the hope that is within us?”

To get training to share the Gospel is not a discipline; it’s an act of love, he asserted. “Maybe if we’re not trained to share the Gospel with them, we’ve got a love problem.”

Thirdly, they bridge or connect people to Christ and to other believers.

That was what the Good Samaritan did in Luke 10:25-37 when he assisted the beaten person and brought him “to someone who could actually bring some healing to him.”

He said, “The ultimate connection is to connect a person to ‘a point of harvest.’”

“We get a chance to help change the eternal destination of generations through people we lead to Christ,” he said, noting his listeners had a specific lineage back to Jesus through individuals who have were faithful to the Gospel.

“So, I wonder, if Jesus tarries, who will have a spiritual lineage to you and to me?”