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


Southerland Springs Calls for Solutions

Sutherland Springs  FBCO Lord, there are no adequate words to express our grief over the violent death of any individual. Every person is a person of worth created in Your image to live and to love. It is especially sad when a church at worship, gathered in sanctuary, is violently interrupted by an act of evil. 
 
We pray for all the souls gathered for worship at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas on Sunday, November 5, 2017, just as we pray for all the souls gathered for Bible study at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC on Wednesday, June 17, 2015, just as we pray for all the souls gathered at various places of worship throughout the world who have had a visitation of evil, just as we pray for all places and venues beyond places of worship who have experienced a visitation of evil, and death as resulted.
 
Our world is not a ignorant world. We can figure with Your holy help a reasonable and peaceful solution to many of our incidents of violence. Our solution must be a dynamic response because of the presence of violence and evil in Your world. We must have the courage to go beyond simply asking Why?” We must have the conviction to develop complex solutions that are effective, and not simple fixes that are ineffective. 
 
May all the churches of the Columbia Metro Baptist Association and all Christians of good will be people of solutions. Amen.

Jesus and Our Brain Compete for Racial Reconciliation

Multi Cultural Bible StudySunday, October 15, 2017

Today I attended a presentation and dialogue on changing the way the Church views racism. With me were six people representing various member congregations of the Columbia Metro Baptist Association.

It was sponsored by the Fellowship of South Carolina Bishops. Guest speaker was Drew Hart of Messiah College in Pennsylvania, and author of Trouble I’ve Seen: Changing the Way the Church View Racism.

In the dialogue around our table, one team member suggested there is competition between Jesus and our brain. Here is my spin on what she meant.

Our relationship with Jesus is one of unconditional love. Through such a relationship external racial reconciliation is possible. It involves our awareness of racism in our words and actions, repentance of racism in our lives and the systems of society we enable, and forgiveness for our sin of racism. This awareness may ultimately lead to actions to rid society of unjust laws and systems, racist cultural practices, and racial privilege.

The challenge is our brain. Among things that may be missing in the Jesus-focused actions of racial reconciliation is forgetting. Reconciliation is about repentance, forgiveness, and forgetting. Forgetting is the harder of the three to achieve.

Continue reading "Jesus and Our Brain Compete for Racial Reconciliation" »


Intentional Interim Pastoral Ministry is an Art More than a Science, Post One

Tom HarrrisSaturday, October 14, 2017

This week I had the opportunity to speak to the leadership, and some invited guests, of one of my favorite organizations that seeks to recruit, train, place, resource, and coach interim pastors for congregations.

It is Interim Pastor Ministries.

My relationship with the people of Interim Pastor Ministries goes back almost nine years when its current executive director—Tom Harris—was serving as interim pastor for a church in Atlanta, GA, and saw an invitation where I was leading a church consultation weekend where others were invited to observe a Friday night session. He signed up, attended, and we talked briefly.

I few years later Tom become the executive director for Interim Pastor Ministries. Three years ago, he saw another invitation where I invited people to shadow me through a four-day weekend experience with a church. He signed up, we had extensive conversations during that weekend, and since then we have been together a dozen times.

The most recent was this week in Myrtle Beach, SC.

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Not Necessarily FaithSoaring Churches Characteristics

Soaring-birdAnother set of characteristics exists which I call, ”Not Necessarily FaithSoaring Church Characteristics”.

(See article on FaithSoaring Churches Characteristics that preceded this article.)

They more clearly define who can be considered a FaithSoaring Church.

Already you may be typecasting or stereotyping who these congregations may be.

You are probably wrong at some points and right at others. Keep reading to discover the five "not neceesarily FaithSoaring Churches" characteristics.

Continue reading "Not Necessarily FaithSoaring Churches Characteristics" »