Associations Either/Or and Both/And

I have been asked to serve on the search committee for the new Associational Mission Director for the Lauderdale Baptist Association. I've thought more about Baptist associations over the last few weeks than the last few years. I believe that associations can serve as positive catalysts for the Kingdom of God but they must be aware of the change in time and climate. I read Paul Stripling's book, "Turning Points in the History of Baptist Associations in America", this morning and appreciate his good work. There was a quote in there that I think is important. Well, it was one quote among many. Here it goes -

"Without doubt, the increased emphasis on the local church as being God's primary agent of mission is having a profound effect on all denominational organizations. As more churches take on direct mission efforts, traditional cooperative methodologies may lose their importance. The current trend is for churches to self-direct mission money and work through their church with less reliance on other denominational groups. Efforts by denominational entities to fight this trend may result in undermining a foundational Baptist value that denominational entities support the local church, not vice versa. The leverage point is to show how associations can help the local church achieve its mission goals with both/and thinking rather than either/or thinking."


Archie Mck said...

Agreed. Growing up in a SBC church the greatest breakdown was in communication, the whole left hand right hand thing. There can be a catalyst there but communication is key.

Matt Snowden said...


Thanks for the comment. Communication is very important that is why I want to listen to the churches in our area and others so that we will do something truly positive through our association.

Matt Snowden said...


You are working with a big independent ministry. How do they facilitate communication and cooperation in it?

art rogers said...


You and your Association need to look at Tulsa Metro.

We've completely reorganized around the principles of facilitating the church's engagement.

We've released all of our entities - campground, pregnancy center, clothing center - to raise money and govern themselves and they've all flourished as a result.

It has freed us to take that money and give it back to the churches through three teams: Church Planting, Church Strengthening (resourcing projects churches have), and we've combined Staff Support and Leadership Development into one team.

You can check out our stuff at

Some stuff just changed a couple of weeks ago and the website hasn't been updated to reflect it, but I think you will get a lot of info.

Archie Mck said...

Matt, Actually I was more speaking of the Conv. communicating with the church. I think there was a feeling to do things on our own because there was only a annual feedback report, one that was usually too broad or vague.

Great question and to be honest it's something we're constantly re-addressing. Most of the issues we run into are either due to a sense of "ownership" of information or simply no protocol or channel of information distribution. Actually part of my position is locating and identifying why those breakdowns occur. It can definitely be daunting at times! Simply establishing a channel (ie. Blog, newsletter, emails) can go a long way into creating a personal investment and a shared sense of involvement. Compassion International is a great example of this concept applied to a cause. We know God can change the world, but it's nice to know when He uses our sacrifice to help.

Matt Snowden said...

Art and Archie,

Thanks for your imput. It is valuable and I appreciate it very much. We're doing some great stuff as an association in the Dominican Republic. I think it could serve as a model for others. We want to do things well. Thanks for your help.

Wade Phillips said...

Couple of thoughts come to mind . . .

Over the last few months, I've discovered that Meridian-Lauderdale County is on the back end of the curve on a lot of things, church-related things included. So I think traditional associational missions may have a longer shelf life here than they do in some other places.

I know there are some churches in this area that are doing a lot of missions on their own, but there are also a lot of small ones that wouldn't be able to do things without the association.

We don't want to be stuck in old methods that don't work, and we want to try new things, but we also have to know our community and know what works in our particular community. It's a delicate balance.

Also, I wouldn't worry about getting in a big hurry. Bro. Charles will do great as interim. God really worked that one out. He'll also be an invaluable asset to you as you search for a new Missions Director.

Let me think more about this. I might have more thoughts later.

Matt Snowden said...

Thanks Wade

I look forward to your thoughts on this. Charles is a great guy.

The Hill Hangout said...

Matt, my comment will not address your question dorectly, but I hoe it will give you some food for thought both for the association and in your role at FBC. J and I joined Shades Mountain Baptist when we moved to B'ham. It is a blessing to worship and serve there. One of the things I believe Shades does well is it's approach to missions. Several years ago our pastor felt God's call to our church to have a more intensive focus on missions on all levels - locally,nationally and internationally. He and the church's leadership developed a missions plan like I have never seen or experienced before. We call it the 2010 plan, and it includes a list of mission outreaches that our church will accomplish before 2010. I'll get the list to you in a separate email. Our mission work culminates every year in a week-long celebration, which we call "Global Impact Celebration". We fly in missionaries from all over the world, those who have been sent from our church and those not. We have an NBA-style rally on Wednesday night where our missionaries are the superstars. Our MITs (missionaries-in-training aka RAs and GAs) make banners and signs ans we get rowdy in church. It's a lot of fun, and the missionaries feel like we truly do appreciate their work. While they are here, they stay in host homes and have meals and wish-list items provided by Sunday school classes. On Saturday night, each SS class has a dinner at someone's home which serves as a time to really gt to know that class' missionary. Invariable, mission trips are conveived during that time. There are many other events that take place, too many to list here. As luck (or God) would have it, GIC starts next Wednesday night. Any chance you and Meredith could come over and be our guests for the rally? You would get to experience first-hand how a fantastic plan culminates in a grand celebration of God's work around the world.

Matt Snowden said...


Thanks for the comment. Good stuff. I'll talk to Meredith about B'ham. We would have to shift a lot of things around but it's not an impossibility. Thanks again.

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