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Missions Culture Unifies Church Amid Transition

Some churches have enjoyed having a rich history of being missions-minded, and one such church is Maranatha Brethren Church in Hagerstown, Maryland. Their unified heart for outreach permeates their entire church from the pastor down. When Encompass representatives Mike McKeever and Dave Guiles visited them in June, they got to meet with Maranatha’s missions committee and were very encouraged by what they learned.

As the chairwoman of their missions committee for the past two years, Nancy Robinson’s eyes sparkle when she talks about missions. She says, “Outreach is the heart of this church,” which is why they partner with ministries locally (like The Hope Center of Washington County), nationally (like FCA), and internationally (like multiple Encompass missionaries). They also periodically help out with special projects in various countries around the world. Nancy says, “The goal of missions in our church is to get to know our missionaries personally along with their needs.”

One key person who has done a lot to foster Maranatha’s outreach mindset has been their Executive Pastor, Dan Thornton. Dan will actually be shifting out of his current role soon, which may seem like a headwind for their church’s outreaches, but missions has become so ingrained into their culture that their participation in global and local outreach will remain the same. Even though Maranatha is looking for its next executive pastor, Nancy says, “Our church’s desire to share our faith is the unifier that keeps us together.” 

During Maranatha’s search for its next executive pastor, their missions committee will use that time to utilize Encompass’s “Mobilizing the Mobilizers” training materials while also welcoming the committee’s newer and younger members. As Encompass’s Church Mobilizer, Mike McKeever plans to visit them again in October to continue working with them and support their heart for missions through the change.

Here are some actions Maranatha has taken which have helped nurture their congregation’s passion for missions:

  1. Featuring a “missionary of the month” in their bulletin
  2. Holding a pastoral prayer for their missionary of the month where they show slides to familiarize the congregation with their missionaries
  3. Flying the flags of their missionaries’ countries in the sanctuary and having small prayer gatherings around the flags
  4. Hosting regular missions meetings as needed

Although Maranatha values missions on a global scale, Nancy reminds us that outreach often starts with the person sitting right next to us at church or work. Her encouragement for us is, “Don’t wait to get involved! We each have something valuable we can offer to the Lord in missions.”