Partnering with associations
June 7 2002 by Jim Royston , BSC Executive Director-treasurer

Partnering with associations | Friday, June 7, 2002

Friday, June 7, 2002

Partnering with associations

By Jim Royston BSC Executive Director-treasurer

One of my earliest memories of church life was attending association meetings with my father in Holston Association in East Tennessee. At an early age, I became aware of how a group of churches located in the same area would come together for fellowship, ministry and mission projects. One of my first ministry roles after graduating from seminary was with an association - the Mecklenburg (now Metrolina) Association in Charlotte. Without a doubt, those "Charlotte years" were one of the greatest growth experiences of my entire ministry career.

I hope you will use this time of year to explore your local association.

Now is a good time to take a look at this important area within Baptist life. Associations were the first Baptist organization in America, beginning in Philadelphia in 1707, some 138 years before the founding of the Southern Baptist Convention. In fact, almost one-fourth of our North Carolina associations were organized before the Southern Baptist Convention, with a majority of them being older than the Baptist State Convention.

Most associations are comprised of churches located in a single county, although the Chowan Association covers 11 counties. Wilkes County is divided among five associations (Stony Fork, Brushy Mt., Stone Mt., Brier Creek and Rocky Face).

Not all associations are geographical in nature. Burnt Swamp Association, with offices in Robeson County, is comprised of Lumbee Indian churches scattered in eight counties, one county in South Carolina and one in Maryland.

The Baptist State Convention is committed to partnering with associations in every way possible. Although we have been in partnership for virtually all of our history, in 1996 the convention officially formalized this commitment by adding this sentence to our constitution's purpose statement: "It is understood that the Convention works in partnership with the district associations in seeking to fulfill these (convention) purposes."

The focus of both groups is, and must always be, the local church. Everything we do must ultimately serve churches. Church is the only institution for which Christ died. Everything else - every other Baptist organization of any kind - is only some type of support mechanism for local churches.

The role of associations and conventions will (and is) undergoing many changes. Both groups are finding themselves "re-defined" by the shifting cultural environment. Churches have a variety of resources and materials to assist in their ministries.

In a word, Baptist associations and conventions are no longer "the only game in town." Today, virtually any church can go anywhere or communicate with anyone on almost any topic without the help of an association or a convention.

Reaching the lost with the gospel is simply too important to wait until everyone has agreed upon and signed-off on a particular denominational structure or plan of action. Associations and conventions must find creative and innovative ways to remain vital and be more than a funding conduit. I believe we will succeed on both counts.

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6/7/2002 12:00:00 AM by Jim Royston , BSC Executive Director-treasurer | with 0 comments
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