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Baptist Associations are a Family Heritage

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

Yesterday 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 anticipate the possibility of my election as the director of missions for the Columbia Metro Baptist Association this Thursday, I had a good time reading through some of the papers and remembering my family commitment to Baptist associations.

(For any readers not familiar with associations, they are the local denominational dimension for various Baptist tribes.Think of them as districts, circuits, presbyteries, dioceses, classes, etc.)

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.

My father did not attend seminary until he was 30 years old. He loaded up Mom and my two older sisters, and went to Fort Worth, TX where he and Mom did a two-year certificate program. Neither had a college degree. To do this Dad had to resign from a church where he was serving as pastor.

Following seminary they moved back to North Carolina for Dad to serve as associational missionary for the Roanoke Baptist Association in Rocky Mount. He served there three years before going on the staff of the regional denomination known as the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.

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Eddie Hammett Endorses Captured by Vision -- George's Newest Book

Eddie HammettGeorge has given the church of today and tomorrow a real gift as he shares his wisdom gained through his decades of consulting with churches. The bite-sized approach to sharing heavy truths is masterfully crafted to provide pastors and lay leaders points for prayer, reflection and action. Captured By Vision is truly a treasure of truths that inspire, encourage and guide!

--Edward “Eddie” Hammett,

Click HERE here to see and purchase Captured By Vision: 101 Insights to Empower Your Congregation.

Captured By Vision Insight 096 to Empower Your Congregation

Captured By Vision Final Cover  01.17.17Vision Insight 096: In general, the longer people are connected with a congregation, the more difficult it is to see a new vision.

The routine patterns and habits within the fellowship of a congregation blind people to new vision. In older churches, there is a group of people I call 60-40-20 people. They are at least 60 years old, have been in church at least 40 years, and have been attending your church at least 20 years. This is a cohort for whom it is almost impossible to see new vision.

They are also overly churched culture people. They have difficulty being led to see new vision by people of a short tenure. They cannot speak the language of the unchurched culture. They can only speak the language of the churched culture.

They know the language of Zion and the secret handshake, and do not understand why non-churched people might think that hymns with the word “blood” in them are talking about some form of cannibalism, vampires, or perhaps zombies.

They still understand highway signs that suggest people are going to hell without Jesus. They do not realize the next generation of pre-Christians do not understand the signs, and if they did, they would be driven away rather than attracted.

The book of 101 insight--Captured By Vision--is now live on Click HERE to see and purchase it.

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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Captured By Vision Insight 095 to Empower Your Congregation

Captured By Vision Final Cover  01.17.17Vision Insight 095: When vision wanes in congregations they can become angry at God for forsaking them, when they may actually have forsaken God.

Congregational vision does not move forward on auto-pilot. Congregational participants must believe in the vision sufficiently to be part of God’s empowering force. When vision wanes within a congregation, then it is not being cast assertively, movement toward its fulfillment is not a high enough priority within the congregation, or the congregation has become distracted and lost its focus. Vision killers love to distract their congregation.

God does not forsake God’s empowering vision for a congregation. Congregations forsake God’s empowering vision. Anger is never a great response. Perhaps as close as a congregation ought to come to anger would be the concept known as “righteous indignation.”

During the second and following generations of a congregation, when vision wanes in less than seven years, congregations need to recalibrate and move forward. When vision wanes at or after seven years, it may be time to go through a season of renewing vision. If a congregation does not renew vision within ten years since its last vision was cast, it is likely to become aging, declining, and perhaps even dysfunctional.

The book of 101 insight--Captured By Vision--is now live on Click HERE to see and purchase it.