Associations: relics of the past or opportunities for the future? : Friday, May 6, 2005
May 6 2005 by Ken Kessler

Associations: relics of the past or opportunities for the future? : Friday, May 6, 2005
Friday, May 6, 2005

Associations: relics of the past or opportunities for the future?

By Ken Kessler

Climb into your time machine and go with me to the year 2025. What will Baptist life look like? What will happen to local Baptist associations? Considering that some people think associations are relics of the past, do they have a future?

As we emphasize the ministry of associations in N.C. Baptist life this week, here is how I think effective associations will be defined in the months and years ahead.

A - A region of communities of churches committed to each other through the common cause of living out the Great Commandment and Great Commission. The use of the word "communities" is intentional. There may be multiple communities in the region who connect around diverse learning, cultural and theological issues. The glue is the common cause of evangelism and disciple-making. I expect to see more associations forming across geographical, cultural and theological lines in places where multiple communities are not developed.

S - Share the gospel of Jesus Christ in unique and targeted ways to the cultures in which they reside.

S - Strategically knows the people groups it serves. The people are aware of the human hurts and hopes of its region that God has gifted them and called them to serve.

O - Openly committed to building a world missions sending-center in their region.

C - Catalyst for transition and change in its local churches, using the prophetic voice of Scripture and the key learnings of 21st century Christian leaders to seek revitalization and hope for its present congregations.

I - Intentionally birthing new congregations to reach people who are presently pre-Christian, unchurched and dechurched.

A - Adopt a strong prayer and spiritual formation focus as the foundation for God's work in and through the congregations

T - Transformation is the key word by which associations live. The churches are seeking transformation in church leadership, church membership, and the contextual setting in which they are placed. Associational leaders are the models of transformation in their personal lives and the organizational life of the association.

I - Implement a coaching strategy that walks alongside pastors/staff and key lay leaders as God pulls them toward their full kingdom potential.

O - Organize associations around visions, key priorities, and goals rather than the way things have always been done. Organization has a more flexible nature that allows people to serve in mission rather than just serve on committees or task forces. The association models for its congregations this ministry-sending focus.

N - Negotiate key relationships with pastors/staff, lay leaders, other denominational leaders, and anyone else who will help associations fulfill their mission and reach their full kingdom potential. Good, healthy relationships are an important key to the future of associations.

So what will associations look like in the future? I am not sure, but I am sure they will look different than today. Those associations that continue to exist the way they do now have a limited future. Those associations that are flexible in priorities and structure and open to the Lord's leadership will have a wide-open future for ministry and transformation.

(EDITOR'S NOTE - Kessler is Baptist State Convention senior consultant for associational partnerships.)

5/6/2005 12:00:00 AM by Ken Kessler | with 0 comments

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