“Siri, What Is an Association?”

AME 2018 clipart

During my 18 years as director of missions, the world of handheld technology has exploded. On my cell phone or newest tablet, I can talk to this pleasant person named Siri or Alexa and get a fast response to the question, what is a Baptist association? Siri’s response quickly reveals an article saying a Baptist association is “a self-governing fellowship of churches on mission.”

Thank you, Siri! It is hard to believe that in the palm of my hand, I hold a device that has more computer capacity and memory than the computers on the first lunar module. I am truly amazed at the amount of information that is available right at our fingertips. I am even more amazed that after more than 300 years, so many in Baptist life do not know the power contained in the association.

The association is

  • a source of information. Through the multiple trainings and the collection of information gathered from the member churches, the association can be a valuable resource for any church. From church issues to church planting, the association serves as a warehouse of information to be distributed whenever a church has need. Plus the local association is much more acquainted with local culture and traditions than are more distant entities.
  • a connection to the world. If an association is functioning as it should be, it is providing opportunities for churches and individuals to serve on mission. Whether the work is right there within the area of the association or with an international people group, serving produces healthier churches. There is also great value in the association keeping all everyone aware of the continuing missions work internationally, across the United States, statewide, and locally. I think of the support we were able to offer when some of our sister churches were damaged by natural disasters such as floods and tornadoes. It is hard to imagine dealing with that alone.
  • a shoulder to lean on. In addition to connecting churches to the world, the association encourages and promotes fellowship among member congregations. Even though a simple search of the World Wide Web can yield answers to almost any problem or issue a church endures, sometimes pastors or church leaders need more than information. What they need is the embrace of a fellow brother or sister in Christ to assure them that Jesus is still with them (Matt. 28:20).

Celebrate all your local association is or could be to your church during the Associational Missions Emphasis, May 20–27. The theme for the week is Mission Partnerships: Partnering with Someone Missional Somewhere, based on Acts 16:9. Download free 2018 Associational Missions Emphasis materials at sbcassociations.org.

Thomas Biddle has served Enterprise Baptist Association in Kentucky for more than 18 years.

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