The local Baptist association is dead.
At least that’s what I’ve heard.
By now I’ve already angered some and others are nodding in approval. Historically Baptist associations served as a connection point for most of our congregations. The association served churches by helping them stay doctrinally strong, encouraging shared evangelistic outreach, and helping churches in various stages of their life cycle – plant, renewal or death. I think they are a valuable part of our Baptist communion.
But it doesn’t take long to discover that participation in the local association is waning. On some levels, its not surprising. Associations that served churches where I pastored often demanded much in the way of resources but gave back very little to member congregations. Some even had leaders who acted like Bishops with control over our church – not a smart move if you are working with Baptists!
Sitting in my local Chamber of Commerce meeting the other day, I began to realize something. What if our associations began to work more strategically and carefully. What if they took on some of the components typical of the local Chamber while they sought to serve the church and advance the Gospel?
While I am sure there are more ideas here, I propose at least 6 major emphases that can revitalize many of our associations while we do the work set out for us in our community. Some of these are for the association and its leaders. Some of the ideas are for the member churches. We can only succeed if we work together!
Some have proposed that the day of the local association may well be over. Spending time in my local Chamber of Commerce convinces me otherwise so long as our Baptist associations begin to cast a compelling vision for the future and serve the member churches as they engage the community. We could see a new day! Get your church and yourself involved in your local association for the good of the Kingdom!
John Mark Yeats