We are better together. As Baptists, we celebrate our independence and church autonomy. But when we read the New Testament, we also see how the churches worked together to accomplish larger goals and missions. In our community, we have a huge task before us. In Hamilton County there are over 350,000 people, and the vast majority is unchurched. Every church in our association could be filled to capacity, and we wouldn’t come close reaching all these folks. And it is our local association that helps us accomplish this goal together. Through fellowship, training and unified missions, we are able to minister to so many more together. Silverdale Baptist Church has increased its giving and participation in the Association because we realize this task is too great to do alone. We are blessed to be part of an organization that has the heart of God to reach the lost and to minister to this city. And because of this, our church has discovered that we really are better together.
As a pastor of a church that began as a vision of the Hamilton County Baptist Association, I know firsthand the important role it plays in the community. I found that the director was as supportive when we were a small struggling mission as he has been since becoming an established church. The Association has always been interested and involved in our work in North Hamilton County. Dallas Bay has been greatly helped with manpower, equipment and wisdom over the years by being associated with our association. The nearness and access we have had to the director and staff has made HCBA the most valuable tool within the framework of the SBC as a whole.
Our association is our association.
Churches (actually, messengers from churches) make up an association, our association is our churches acting cooperatively. Associations were organized by representatives from churches in a defined area to enhance fellowship, resolve doctrinal and policy issues, and assist churches in accomplishing their mission. The mission of an association is an extension of the mission of the churches which make up the association. Therefore, our association assists our churches in proclaiming the gospel to the lost, disciplining the saved, and ministering to persons in Christ’s name.
An association is a group of churches doing missions.
Churches can do collectively through the association what no one church can do by itself. An association involves churches in varied mission ministries. Churches can better serve the total geographical area cooperatively through the association. An association is a family of churches involved in special local missions and ministries such as (1) language or ethnic congregations, (2) ministries in inner cities, recreation areas, or institutions.
An association is a group of people doing missions.
An association is involved in meeting local and community needs through mission action projects which involve “hands on” participation. In an association a large percentage of the people can be involved. At the state, national, and international levels, missions is usually done by giving financial support to others who do the ministries.
An association promotes teamwork.
An association gives churches an opportunity to work together on local projects, thus helping each other to accomplish common mission responsibilities. An association teaches and encourages churches to work cooperatively to carry out local mission projects.
An association is an open door to world mission outreach.
The world has come to us. Internationals visit and reside in our association. An association plans strategies and assists churches in proclaiming the gospel to internationals and ministering to them in Christ’s name. An association faces the challenge of stimulating growth in local missions along with state, home, and foreign missions. It is not either/or, it is both/and.
An association trains church leaders.
An association helps train and develops church leaders and other members by involving them in leadership and service responsibilities. Also, an association provides conferences, seminars, and workshops each year which are designed to train church leaders to do a more effective job in their positions of leadership. An association exists to supply information, resources, and training to equip lay leaders in local churches to develop believers, witness to the lost, and minister to the hurting.
An association gives personal assistance to churches.
An association director of missions and other staff assist churches to more effectively do their work within the church body and to meet the needs of people in the irrespective communities. Other elected association leaders offer assistance to the churches: Sunday school, Discipleship Training, WMU, Men’s Ministry, etc.
An association provides opportunities for fellowship.
An association provides pastors and other local church leaders with opportunities for fellowship. As fellowship is developed and experienced, church leaders realize that they (and their churches) are not alone in seeking to serve the Lord in their local setting.An association is a link between churches and the denomination.An association provides a two-way channel of communication: from the churches to the denomination, and from the denomination to the churches.
Churches are an association’s primary source of financing.
The expansion of association missions and ministries depends on the commitment of the local churches to meet opportunities that are growing in number each year. If churches support an association adequately, the association can do the needed networking of ministry.