Seven Strategies for a Baptist Association--An Overview

Strategy 02The following conversation could have taken place between any Baptist pastors, staff ministers, or laypersons anywhere in North America any time in the past 50 years. It could have taken place this week in the Midlands of South Carolina. 

A pastor, a church staff person, and a layperson met at a coffee shop, ordered their favorite caffeinated drink, and on this gorgeous day decided to sit outside and enjoy the breeze flowing gently through the trees.

Greg, the pastor, is new to the church having arrived just three months ago. The worship leader, Carlton, has led worship for seven years since the congregation made the transition from traditional to contemporary worship. Stephanie is the chairperson of the Finance Committee, and has attended the congregation all her life.

The reason for gathering was to talk about the missions section of their church budget for the coming year. Questions have arisen as to the value of contributing financially to the three dimensions of their denomination—international, regional, and local. In days of limited funds for the church budget, pressure has arisen to cut contributions to the denomination. This is not a new agenda. It has come up before, and cuts to denominations already have been made.

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Baptist Associations are a Family Heritage

Church Pin Map

For my family, Baptist associations have been part of our DNA since at least the 1940s. I suspect it goes back even farther.

Several weeks ago I was organizing my home office and aggressively throwing out things I no longer need that have piled up over the past 11 years. I came across a couple of boxes of family archives. Much of one box were various papers from my father. As I anticipated beginning as the director of missions for the Columbia Metro Baptist Association, I had a good time reading through some of the papers and remembering my family commitment to Baptist associations.

From stories told by my parents, I suspect it was through associational meetings in Wilmington, NC where my parents met in the 1930s. Beyond these gatherings, Dad would preach at churches who needed someone to fill in, and often he would take Mom to play the piano. Not a bad way to court one another.

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Our One Priority

PriorityDownload Our One Priority

Respond to This Post:  (For members of Columbia Metro Baptist Association churches only.)

For your congregation to effectively move forward, how many spiritual and strategic priorities should you have? Three? Five? Seven? How many priorities are too few? How many are too many?

Did you know the word priority only existed in a singular form for the first five hundred years after it came into common use? It was primarily after World War II that it was expressed in a plural form and became priorities? If that is the case then the correct answer to how many spiritual and strategic priorities a congregation should have is one.

If you could only have one priority as a congregation, what should it be?

  • To reach people for a Christ-centered, faith-based spiritual journey?
  • To pay off the debt for your buildings?
  • To connect the unchurched with your church for Christian discipleship?
  • To grow you church bigger?
  • To make disciples of Christ who make disciples of Christ?
  • To make sure your church exists until you die?
  • To call a pastor who will bring vision that your church can follow?
  • To reach young adult families with children?
  • To fill up your sanctuary with worshipers?
  • To care for the spiritual, physical, and emotional needs of your members?

If you could choose only one, which one would you choose? Which one is a worthy priority that fits your congregation and honors our God?

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George Bullard Speaks to Accept His Election as Director of Missions in Columbia, SC

George Bullard  06.29.17With great joy, and with my promise to you of faithful, effective, and innovative service, I accept your election of me as the next Director of Missions for the Columbia Metro Baptist Association. 

In many ways this is an emotional experience for me. Local Baptist associations are nestled within the DNA of my family heritage. I learned about the importance and the primacy of associations in Baptist life at the breakfast, lunch, and supper table from a father and a mother committed to Christian ministry, and joyfully engaged in the life and work of Baptist associations.

The past 45 years have involved me in ministry with Baptist associations as I served on the staff of two associations, as the key point person for associations while on the staff of two state conventions, and on our national missions staff as Southern Baptists in the Associational Missions Division.

It is a great crescendo that I will have the opportunity over the next five to seven years to serve as the missional leader of this association. We have great potential in this capital city and the surrounding areas. I commit to you that we will help all willing member congregations to journey in the direction of their full Kingdom potential from the base of our associational fellowship area. We will focus on essential strategies and actions to fulfill the Great Commission in the spirit of the Great Commandment.

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Where Have All My Sundays Gone?

United Baptist ChurchDo you remember—or even know about—the folk song written by Pete Seeger in 1955 entitled “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” I did not know it from Seeger. I knew if from the recording made famous by folk singers Peter, Paul and Mary.

That tune is already swirling around my head as I consider the possibility that I will be elected Director of Missions for the Columbia Metro Baptist Association a week from today. Only the words associated with it are “Where Have All My Sundays Gone?”

A core commitment of a leader who comes alongside a family of congregations in a Baptist association is to worship with, enjoy the fellowship of, and encourage the ministry of pastors and congregations by being present in their weekend worship services. It is also essential to learn and understand the worship and fellowship characteristics of all congregations in the family. 

If elected, and thus I acquire the privilege to serve these churches-in-association with one another, I will start the role two days later. Thus, I am already having to think about a plan for visiting with congregations on Sundays and at other times. Three Sundays my first month are already tentatively planned.

This will be the first of many issues where I must do what I have been advising the staff of Baptist associations and other local denominational organizations/judicatories to do for the past 40 years. Or, I must declare I gave them bad advice. 

This side of the practice of serving as the director of missions for a local Baptist association, here is my plan for the four Sundays in the month based on the advice I have given others:

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