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Because of the nature of church planting within the Mid-Maryland Baptist Association, church planters and the churches they plant are, without apology, held to high moral, doctrinal, and visional standards. The following is an expression of that standard.
Church Planter Requirements:
1. A church planter will be a baptized believer in Jesus Christ who has a God-given call to ministry, specifically to church planting. 2. A church planter will maintain a Biblical standard of ethics in his professional and private life. A church planter will maintain a personal commitment to consistent prayer and personal study of the Scriptures, and conduct himself with honesty, integrity, and faithfulness to God. He will avoid any sexual misconduct, including premarital and extramarital sex, the use of pornography, and homosexuality. In addition, and in respect of the views of many Mid-Maryland Baptist Churches, a church planter will refrain totally from the consumption of alcohol as a beverage while receiving funding from the Association. 3. A church planter will be passionate about evangelism, and will demonstrate this passion both with his conviction that non-Christians are separated from God, and with ability to share the message of the Gospel in a conversational way with those yet to know Jesus Christ. 4. Prior to appointment, a church planter will have demonstrated that he is capable of planting a church by passing a North American Mission Board and/or Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware assessment process. 5. Prior to appointment, a church planter will present the On Mission Council with a strategic plan for the new church, including the vision and a proposed annual budget outlining the financial need. 6. A church planter will demonstrate doctrinal soundness by fully affirming the Baptist Faith and Message. 7. A church planter will make a minimum commitment of three years to his church plant. 8. A church planter will agree, from the first undesignated offering taken, to budget a minimum of 10% to Associational and Cooperative Program missions. 9. A church planter will have adequate academic preparation relevant for planting a church and functioning as a pastor. Normative preparation in this vein means that the planter will have a seminary degree. However, the Association recognizes that the plethora of church planting models and the increase in lay-led church planting sometimes makes such a requirement untenable. Thus, in the absence of such preparation, the planter will agree to be involved in ongoing theological and ministerial education as directed by the On Mission Council. 10. A church planter will attend a Basic Training event to further equip him for his task within the first six months of arriving on the field. In addition, a church planter will agree to become a regular part of a New Church Incubator group. 11. A church planter will secure a coach, and will meet at least monthly with the coach during his first two years on the field.
Church Plant Requirements:
1. The plant must have a parenting church which will agree to the parenting church covenant. 2. The plant must observe the Biblical ordinances of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper in accordance with the Scriptural requirements described in the Baptist Faith and Message. Baptism in the plant will be administered by immersion only, and will be seen by the church as an essential part of discipleship and church membership, though not necessary for salvation. 3. Although it is not required that the church plant have “Baptist” be in its name, the plant will not publicly identify as a “non-denominational” church. However, the plant is free to express its openness to people from all denominations. 4. Neither the church planter nor church plant will be affiliated with another denominational organization while receiving funding from the Association unless an exception is granted by the On Mission Council. Under no circumstances will the planter or plant seek to affiliate or be in sympathy with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship while receiving funding from the Association.
Church Planter Covenant
As a church planter working in cooperation with the Mid-Maryland Baptist Association, I covenant with God, the associational On Mission Council, and my parenting church to do the following: _____: I will maintain a Biblical standard of ethics in my professional and private life. I commit to maintain regular times of prayer and personal study of God’s Word, and in respect for the views of many of our churches, I also commit to abstain from the use of alcohol as a beverage. _____: I will maintain a conviction that those without a relationship to Jesus Christ are separated from God, and will passionately seek to introduce them to Christ in a relational way. _____: I will conduct my ministry in accordance with and not contrary to my Biblical convictions, which are in full agreement with the Baptist Faith and Message. _____: I will make a commitment under the call of God to work in the planting of this church for a minimum of three years. _____: I will, from the first undesignated offering taken, allot a minimum of 10% of those offerings to support Associational and Cooperative Program mission endeavors. _____: I will attend a Basic Training event within the first six months that I am appointed to serve in the field, and will also seek continuing theological and ministerial education in an effort to be a life-long learner. _____: I will consistently meet and submit to all other requirements placed upon me by the Associational “Church Planter Requirements” policy document.
Parenting Church Covenant
As pastor of the parenting church, I speak as the spiritual leader of my congregation on their behalf, agreeing to covenant with God, the church planter, and the On Mission Council to do the following:
_____: We will foster an environment that encourages the church plant to discover and celebrate its distinct identity. _____: We will speak well publicly of the church planter, church plant, and the church planting process. _____: We will voice any potential concerns with the church planter, church plant, and/or church planting process with the Church Planting Missionary of the Association and/or the On Mission Council. _____: We will establish “fishing rights” for the church planter within the parent church. (e.g. when, who, how many, etc.) _____: We will financially support the church plant by incorporating financial support into the budget of our church. In addition, we will encourage support of the church plant by individuals within our church, over and above their regular tithes and offerings to our church. _____: We will provide emotional, spiritual, and relational support for the church planter and his family during the church planting process. _____: We will look for opportunities to participate in early church planting activities, such as prayerwalking, assisting the planter with events promoting the church plant, or helping with childcare during and immediately after the launch of the new church. _____: We will recognize the role of the On Mission Council in approving, directing, and equipping the church planter. In addition, we recognize their role in recommending the removal of the planter, and discontinuing Associational financial support for a planter in the event of a major moral, doctrinal or visional infraction.
The On Mission Council Covenant
The On Mission Council of the Mid-Maryland Baptist Association agrees to covenant with God, the church planter and the parent church to do the following: _____: We will foster an environment that encourages the church plant to discover and celebrate its distinct identity. _____: We will provide emotional, spiritual and relational support for the church planter and his family during the church planting process. _____: We will hold the church planter accountable in the areas of faith, work, performance, word and relationships through maintaining a healthy relationship with the church planter. _____: We will assist the church planter supervisor by staying informed of the status of the church plant, and, when necessary, suggest corrective/instructive changes with regard to strategy, approach and work ethic. _____: We will equip the church planter with the necessary skills to raise funds, develop networks, and plant a church, as well as assist the planter in identifying possible sources of financial support. _____: We will provide the necessary assistance to the church planter for a successful church plant.
SIGNATURES: Church Planter: ___________________________________________ Parent Church Pastor: ______________________________________ Church Planting Missionary: _________________________________ On Mission Council: ________________________________________ ________________________________________ ________________________________________ ________________________________________ ________________________________________ ________________________________________ ________________________________________