WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (BRN) — A mere three weeks ago, the Baptist Resource Network (BRN) held its annual meeting in Harrisburg, Pa. The yearly business meeting is an opportunity for pastors, missionaries, and executive leaders to be encouraged, recharged, and informed about changes occurring within the network.

This year, one of those changes included welcoming a familiar face into a new role. As former BRN President Buff McNickle presided over the meeting’s business session one last time, he made the motion to accept nominee Pastor Bryan McClelland as the new BRN president, effective January 2022.

McClelland family
McClelland family

Pastor McClelland has served on the BRN’s Executive Board since 2017. He has operated as the chairman for the Finance and Operations Committee and as a member of the board’s leadership team. This year was the end of his second term with the executive board.

“The thing that keeps me coming back to these meetings is an opportunity to love and serve our churches. I think that the church is the primary vehicle that God has given us to preach the gospel, to shepherd people, to make disciples, to do the work of an evangelist, [and] to proclaim the glorious good news of Jesus,” shared McClelland.

He continued: “What we do with the BRN is aimed at helping churches do what the Lord has called them to do. So, serving in this role specifically is an opportunity to continue to serve our churches and to serve our executive board, as they serve our churches and our staff. I hope that by God’s grace we get to do that and do it well over the next year.”

McClelland came into the role of president through his involvement with the executive board and, jokingly, “purely by accident.”

“I’m not, in any way, uniquely or specially gifted to be like some kind of entrepreneurial leader. I just keep being reminded – even in this season of life – something I feel like the Lord has been teaching me is just in humility [and] that I have been called primarily to faithfulness to the task, and He’s the one that brings fruit [and] increase in growth,” said McClelland.

McClelland continued by applying this lesson in humility to his new role as president.

“So, when I think about serving in this role, there is a lot of humility there, because I have a lot of respect for the people I serve alongside. I don’t think any one person on our board is necessarily more important and more talented than any other person. I just get to be a part of that and I’m really grateful for the opportunity to do that.”

Heading into this new position, McClelland shared that he hopes to help with initiatives the board has already started – such as the #LovePASJ initiative – and see those movements expand throughout the network.

“Some of what I hope to see happen is a byproduct of what the staff and the team have been doing over the last two or three years with Will Mancini [of the Future Church Co.]. Barry and the team have been working with Will to kind of help fine tune our vision and what we’re aiming after, as we seek to come alongside and help churches. I’d love to continue to see that rolled out and expanded.”

McClelland continued: ‘We just started our #LovePASJ initiative, which is really just right in the heart of what we hope to do in accelerating Kingdom movement – seeing God help churches just continue to move forward.”

The #LovePASJ initiative is a three-phase plan built around loving our neighbors, as commanded in Matthew 22. The plan is designed in such a way to help BRN PA/SJ churches “know” their community through exegesis and prayerwalking, “show” the love of Christ through evangelism and compassion ministries, and “grow” through intentional discipleship and leadership development.

“I’m hoping that what we see with the BRN, over the next three years of kind of thinking through that together, is those things continue to flourish, plant roots, and bear fruit in our churches. I’m excited about that and just praying that the Lord would continue to bless that work and help us,” said McClelland.

As the BRN president, McClelland will help lead meetings to discuss these ongoing initiatives, as well as prepare for the next annual meeting.

“One of the primary things the president does is help lead the annual meeting every year and then, in between annual meetings, the president also leads the executive board meetings,” he explained.

For the BRN, the executive board meets three times a year, and the network’s leadership team meets monthly.

“As president, I will help lead alongside Dr. Whitworth. If there’s any kind of urgent issue that comes up in between meetings, then we’re having those kinds of conversations, too. So, between kind of leading and overseeing the annual meeting and guiding the executive board, that’s the primary role of what the BRN president does.”

Along with being the BRN president, McClelland is also the lead pastor at First Southern Baptist Church in Williamsport, Pa, where he has been serving for nearly four years.

“We want to put good systems in place [and] we want to make sure that we’re laboring to do the work that God has called us to do. I often tell our saints here for Southern that we want to rest well in Jesus, but we also want to break a holy sweat in the process,” shared McClelland.

“I feel like one of the things I’ve been learning is that just in humility – as pastor, as a father, a husband, and just as a man who wants to love and serve the Lord, it’s really easy to assume or to be distracted by my processes or systems. I think I just have been learning over and over again [that] it’s not about me. It’s not about our church, it’s not about the BRN, it’s not about any of those things…it’s about the Lord and the work He’s doing.”

Listen to the podcast interview.

The “50 Stories of Transformation” series, told in honor of the Baptist Resource Network’s 50th anniversary, highlights the many ways God has moved throughout Pennsylvania, South Jersey and beyond. Your generous support of the Cooperative Program makes this ministry possible and fuels evangelism and outreach in our local churches and all over the world! Thank you!