Office focuses on strategy, missional leadership
Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications
August 18, 2010

Office focuses on strategy, missional leadership

Office focuses on strategy, missional leadership
Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications
August 18, 2010

In the coming weeks the

Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) begins an effort to help local

churches develop a missions strategy that connects them locally and globally

for effective, long-term impact ministry. To do this, the Office of Great Commission

Partnerships (GCP) will focus on creating global impact networks, developing

young leaders and equipping pastors as missions strategists.

The BSC Executive Committee

approved formation of the new office during its July 15 meeting in Cary. Mike

Sowers, who has served with North Carolina Baptist Men since 2007 as youth missions

consultant, has been named senior consultant for the Office of Great Commission


“Six billion people in the

world do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It’s easy to see

that as an overwhelming, unobtainable goal,” Sowers said. “I see it as

opportunity, and our Great Commission partnerships as opportunities to help

North Carolina Baptist churches start reaching people here and around the


The Office of Great

Commission Partnerships will work toward helping churches understand the

importance of creating a holistic, comprehensive missions strategy. “Such a

strategy is one that helps create a missional DNA in the local church so that

missions extends beyond short term involvement. An effective missional strategy

creates the urgency of radical commitment to penetrating lostness in the

nations of the world, North America and North Carolina with the gospel of Jesus

Christ,” Sowers said.

Outlining a comprehensive

missions strategy helps a church focus on the purpose of missions.

“We need a

strategy because we need vision,” Sowers said. “We want North Carolina Baptists

to invest their energy into a vision they create that will ultimately result in

an ongoing missions mindset for the entire church.”

A major factor in

determining where the BSC will establish future partnerships is whether or not

the area is unreached or underserved. Unreached areas, those essentially void

of any evangelical witness, and underserved areas, those with a limited access

to the Gospel due to a lack of healthy sustainable churches, are top on the

partnership priority list.

Sowers hopes churches will

gain a greater sense of responsibility for missions as they develop a missions

strategy. “We tend to pass off the responsibility of the Great Commission to

someone else. When Jesus stood on the mountain and said ‘Go’ He commissioned

everyone, the individual and the church,” Sowers said. “We cannot pass the ball

to a state convention or national entity to do the work for the church. But it

is our role as a Convention to help equip people to live out the Great


N.C. Baptist Men and Great

Commission Partnerships

BSC partnerships, formerly

under the supervision and coordination of Richard Brunson, who also serves as

Executive Director of North Carolina Baptist Men (NCBM), will now be managed

through the Office of Great Commission Partnerships. Because Brunson has led

both efforts, there has been an almost synonymous view of NCBM and BSC

partnerships. In order for mission partnerships to continue effective growth

and expansion, Brunson and Chuck Register, Executive Leader for Church Planting

and Missions Development, agreed that a restructuring needed to take place.

NCBM will still continue

their work in partnership missions, involving a wide array of mission projects,

just as they have for nearly 30 years. NCBM coordinate partnerships

domestically, such as Pennsylvania, Vermont and the recent coalfields ministry

in the Appalachian region. They also coordinate partnerships around the world,

such as Honduras, Ukraine, Armenia and Kenya.

The partnership in India has

resulted in 500 wells being provided to villages with no access to clean

drinking water. So far this year about 350 volunteers have served in Haiti, a

partnership that will continue for several more years.

In 2011, a partnership will

begin in Guatemala. Richard Brunson, NCBM Executive Director, said Guatemala is

just one of the new partnerships N.C. Baptist Men looks to start in the next

few years.

Brunson described the NCBM

approach to partnership missions as project-driven. “Most people learn by

doing. We believe you start with doing – you don’t start with education. If you

can get people personally involved in missions it will change their lives,”

Brunson said. “Then they will want to learn about missions and give to missions

and pray about missions.”

The project-driven approach

provides that opportunity for an individual to see firsthand what missions is

about. “You have to start with their heart,” Brunson said. “That starts with

the project.”

Brunson said the

strategy-driven approach of the GCP office will be a great resource for pastors

who want to be a missions strategist in their church. However, Brunson said he

understands that not all pastors have the time to invest in this type of

strategy, nor do they feel comfortable taking on this type of role. For those

pastors, NCBM will continue helping them find ways to get involved in missions

through mission projects at home and around the world.

NCBM and the GCP office are

not attempting to duplicate their mission efforts. Both the project and

strategy approach are necessary when it comes to helping North Carolina

Baptists be as effective in ministry as possible. The new office will serve as

a means of expansion for both approaches, giving more North Carolina Baptists

more opportunities than ever before to be on mission.

“As a local church begins to

develop a missions strategy, key projects will need to be addressed, and we

will look to NCBM for input in that area,” Sowers said.

Global Impact Networks

Foundational to the Office

of Great Commission Partnerships is developing Global Impact Networks. “These

networks will serve as points of connection for local congregations to partner

with other congregations, the BSC, the North American Mission Board (NAMB),

International Mission Board (IMB) and other evangelical groups,” Sowers said.

“We are doing so much work independently of one another and independently of

entities like NAMB and the IMB. If we can begin to coordinate our efforts and

work together we stand a greater chance of having a long-lasting, global


GCP wants to hear from North

Carolina Baptists about where they are serving and where they want to serve. Sowers

is planning several interest meetings across the state for anyone interesting

in Global Impact Networks. More information about the meetings will be posted

soon at the Convention’s web site.

Prior to the Convention’s

annual meeting in November a web page will be available at the Convention’s web

site for North Carolina Baptists to submit information about their current

mission efforts and vision for future mission partnerships. The GCP office will

then use this information to help connect congregations.

Next Generation Leadership


GCP is also developing a

three-year plan to help high school students become the next generation of

mission leaders.

Each year, beginning in fall

2011, 20 North Carolina Baptist students will begin a missional journey that

will involve: teaching from pastors, missionaries and mission strategists,

interactive web-based discussion and accountability groups; and a hands-on

summer missions experience with church planters, urban strategists and

missionaries serving in unreached and underserved areas of the nations.

“Jesus taught the masses,

but He mentored in a smaller group. We want to get serious about discipling

students. If we don’t, teenagers may hear about Jesus and go on a mission trip,

but they won’t really understand their part in the Great Commission or be

equipped to fulfill it,” Sowers said.

In the first year of the

Next Generation Missional Journey students will learn about the responsibility

of the Great Commission and church planting and spend the summer serving in

North Carolina. The second year focuses on North America and the underserved,

the third year on the unreached and the ends of the earth.

Pastors as Missions


Another component of GCP is

developing local church pastors as missions strategists. Sowers said a missions

strategist is one who can “read the spiritual landscape of the community and

then develop a strategic plan to reach underserved/unreached in that specific

community, as well as in the state, nation and world.”

Todd Marlow, pastor of

Westmoreland Baptist Church in Charlotte and chair of the BSC Church Planting

and Missions Development Committee, said this component has the potential to

greatly benefit pastors as they figure out how to be on mission in their

community. “One of the things that is lacking in churches is the emphasis on

being an Acts 1:8 church. We often forget our mission field in our own

Jerusalem,” he said.

When to get out

Included in a holistic

strategy are well-defined, measurable goals, which provide a good measuring

stick for signaling when it is time to end one partnership and begin another.

GCP will assist churches in learning how to define their goals and how to plan

an exit strategy when it comes to various partnerships in which they participate.

Mark Harris, pastor of First

Baptist Church in Charlotte, said coming up with an exit strategy has been one

of the biggest challenges for his congregation. “You feel a certain sense of

responsibility in starting something and then can’t let it go,” he said. Yet,

partnerships should aim to bring about a change that “reproduces itself,”

Harris said, meaning leaders in the state or country where the partnership

takes place are trained and equipped to carry on the ministry themselves.

Without an exit strategy

people become dependent on partnerships and are not prepared to multiply

ministry where they are. “Partnerships are just the catalyst for the work,”

Sowers said.

For more information about

the Office of Great Commission Partnerships contact Sowers at [email protected] or (800)