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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George Bullard Nominated as the New Director of Missions for the Columbia Metro Baptist Association

CMBA Logo 01Today, Thursday, June 15, 2017 it is being announced that I am the nominee of the search committee for the new Director of Missions for the Columbia Metro Baptist Association that involves the city of Columbia, Richland County, Fairfield County, and the southwest portion of Kershaw County in South Carolina.
 
The Executive Board of this @110 congregation fellowship will meet on Thursday, June 29th to consider my nomination. If elected, I will begin service on July 1st.
 
Local Baptist associations have been a part of my life since birth. This is a great capstone spiritual call for my full-time ministry. I was asked by the search committee to project a five to seven year strategy for the Association. I have done that. But, as anyone who knows me will realize, I believe that is simply a statement to get the dialogue going. Any real strategy must be deeply and broadly owned by the member congregations of the Association.
 
More information will be forthcoming about this transition and how the my Ministry Legacy Season will feed into and help empower this ministry. Stay tuned.

Yes, Virginia, We Need Baptist Associations

300 Years of AssociationsOr, Other Forms of Local Denominational Organizations

My denominational tradition—Baptist—and specifically my denominational tribe of heritage—Southern Baptists—has three dimensions of denominational structure. They are known as associations, state (or regional) conventions, and national agencies and institutions.

Associations are the local entity which I categorize generically as dynamic spiritual and fellowship organisms. State conventions and the national expressions are organizations.

In historic order associations came first. The initial association of Baptists in my tradition was the Philadelphia Baptist Association established in 1707. The first association in the South that was ultimately part of my tribe was the Charleston (SC) Baptist Association established in 1751.

The first state convention in my tribe was the South Carolina Baptist Convention established in 1821. Finally, the Southern Baptist Convention came into existence in 1845. These two entities did not replace local associations, but carried forward the work of Southern Baptists from a different dimension and with somewhat different foci.

With the transformation of denominations in the past 40 years, it is a legitimate question to raise as to whether all three entities of my tribe’s denominational structure are still essential and needed. It is certainly a question discussed in formal and informal settings, and acted on by congregations in an autonomous denominational movement such as Southern Baptists.

With significant transition and changes in how congregations and individuals financially support the three dimensions of denominational life among Southern Baptists, one observation can be made without fear of successful contradiction. Southern Baptists are unwilling to financially support all three dimensions of denominational life unless they see added value expressed by each for the fulfillment of the mission of God.

If three dimensions of denominational life are not sustainable, and one needs to disappear, which one is that?

To read the full article, Download Yes Virginia We Need Baptist Associations


Are Moderates/Progressives Confusing the “e” Word with the “E” Word Again?

EvangelicalismMany years ago my mother told me about a trip she took with a group of people to attend a national denominational training event. If you knew my mother, you would know she could hardly tell it without laughing.

The event was far enough away that they had to spend the night to get there. The driver told everyone to be ready and in his car the second morning at a certain time. They had just enough time to make it for the start of the event.

Ten minutes after the deadline, the three passengers were in the car, but the driver was not. As the passengers tried to figure out what might be going on, my mother said the last time she saw him, he was in her room helping her with her luggage.

My mother got out of the car, and went to her room. The door was slightly open. When she went in she saw no one but heard voices coming from the bathroom.

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The Baptist World Alliance: Truly Global?

BWA LogoSee the article I wrote on this subject at Baptist News Global by clicking HERE.

The end of this month [July 2016], I bring closure to my role as General Secretary [read as executive coordinator] of the North American Baptist Fellowship of the Baptist World Alliance. This is so I can launch the Legacy Season of my ministry as I seek to pass along my learnings from 50 years of congregational and denominational ministry with 40 of those years serving as a consultant/coach, teacher, writer, and speaker on congregational and denominational transformation.

I still have a volunteer role with the Baptist World Alliance as I serve on its Mission Commission. I still have positive spiritual passion about the work and ministry of the Baptist World Alliance. To that end, I believe more leaders and congregations from North America ought to be involved in BWA. I wrote about this for Baptist news Global last week. Here is that article--The Baptist World Alliance: Truly Global?