Commentary: Intentional missiology behind partnerships and planting partnerships


We must be intentional in our missiology, and we often must make intentional turns in our methodology. The Missions department of GBMB’s Church Strengthening team has made some significant shifts for 2024 going forward. Both moves are based on biblical and practical theology. One involves church planting, and the others speak to facilitation in missions partnerships.

Churches plant churches

The best model of church planting is when churches plant churches. The idea of a mother church and daughter church is nothing new, of course. The North American Mission Board has a partnering missional focus on supplying the financial needs of church planters throughout America’s key cities. Usually this involves a necessary assessment of the planter and his wife as well as a vetting mechanism for assuring a margin of success in the planting process. Of course, the best scenario is when that church planter can find mentorship and camaraderie from a nearby mature pastor. However, often there are planters who come to Georgia with a distant sending church, so finding intimate mentorship from a mother church pastor is sometimes met with difficulty.

Recognizing this, the Church Strengthening team of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board has made an intentional shift toward reinforcing the bond that should exist between a church plant and the mother church. Accordingly, GBMB has begun offering one-time grants for mother churches. The board notified associations at the end of 2023 that these were being made available. Through application by the mother church and identification of an active church plant, the Associational Missions Strategist where the church plant is located gives final approval and the grant can be processed. Already in the past two months, twenty-two mother churches have received the grant and an additional seven are in the process of conversation. Afterward, sister churches in Georgia- especially those within the same Baptist association- are encouraged to make mission trips to provide tangible help. It is hoped that up to 60 new churches will be planted in Georgia this year because of a healthy mother church model and some accessible financial resources.

“Refined focus” in partnerships

Over the past five years, the board has fostered six national and six international partnerships specific to Georgia’s specified regions. After the board identified six “most lost zip codes” in Georgia, three of those cities were targeted with crossover events and evangelism projects. Just last week, one of the zip codes experienced an elevated engagement through a partnership project with NAMB, GBMB, and the Augusta Baptist Association. Those six zip codes will still be targeted, but more secondary locations are being added as the Lord has opened doors for greater involvement.

In January 2020, the leadership of six state conventions came to Atlanta to meet and consider a five-year partnership with Georgia Baptist churches. Some of these have been more successfully connected than others, but Georgia churches have been active in engaging New York, New England, Pennsylvania and South New Jersey, Michigan, Utah and Idaho, and Puerto Rico. Moreover, churches have actively taken trips to Guatemala, Nicaragua, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, and Argentina. And although COVID realistically robbed missional engagement of about two of those years, each of the state-to-state partners as well as international missionaries have expressed a gratitude to Georgia Baptist churches for their involvement in supplying the needs of their churches. As this year draws those partnership agreements to a close, the Church Strengthening team has considered two important shifts in missions facilitation.

One shift is in removing the regional borders for partnership purposes. This move reflects the reality that many of Georgia Baptist churches have already developed partnerships beyond the state convention level. In fact, we have discovered that GBC churches in the north and south have mission teams going to almost every US state and several continents. It only makes sense then that the Church Strengthening-Missions team will continue to seek to foster active relationships regardless of regional emphasis. With two Georgia Baptist missions consultants at work throughout Georgia, any church can still find help and direction for making connections in the partnering states and countries.

Another major shift is the refined focus of those partnership locations. Although churches will still be encouraged to go as the Lord leads to any location, the Georgia Baptist Mission Board will begin to limit its facilitated partnerships beyond this year to Utah/Idaho, Michigan, and Puerto Rico for state-to-state convention relationships and to Argentina, Peru, and Guatemala. Any church wishing to find current connections for trip planning and facilitation for these partnerships can contact the Georgia Baptist Mission Board for support.

Missional leadership development

Yet another shift is the adoption of a leadership development tool for equipping missional outreach leaders in every Georgia Baptist church. Only five percent of GBC churches have reported a full-time or part-time paid staff person with missions responsibilities. Another fourteen percent have indicated a volunteer person who helps to lead prayer emphases or mission trips. With over 80 percent of GBC pastors without a point person to mobilize the church in missional engagement, the GBMB missions team has developed a six-week equipping process to be delivered in cohorts online or through associations. The first Missional Outreach Leader Training cohort is already underway, and more will be started throughout this year.

Buck Burch is the state missions catalyst for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board.