By Roger P. Freeman
Pastor, Grace Baptist Church, Nashville
But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1:8).
The missions strategy for the Southern Baptist Convention ministry through our churches is found in Acts 1:8.
“Jerusalem” represents missions through the local association.
“Judea” represents missions through our Tennessee Baptist Convention.
“Samaria” represents missions through our North America Mission Board to unchurched areas of the United States and Canada.
“The uttermost part of the earth” represents missions through our International Missions Board to unreached peoples in all nations of the world.
The local association is the first line of biblical missions. The purpose of this article is lovingly to encourage pastors to be very active and supportive of the local Baptist association. In other words, love your association!
By way of testimony, God has allowed me to serve as a Baptist pastor since 1969, such an holy honor. In each ministry, the director of missions/associational missionary and associational relationships have been a strength and blessing to my walk with Christ and ministry. Thank you to the DOMs in Tennessee (Robert Mizelle, Wesley Pitts, Dennis Pulley, Rick Stevens, Robert Tyson, and Rusty Sumrall) who have led the associations where we served.
Here are a few reasons we should be active in support, involvement, and attendance in our local association.
Missions vision begins at home. Your DOM will be a great guide and resource as churches do local missions. Every DOM in our state wants with all their heart to be a help to the churches and a catalyst for new church plants and reaching souls for Christ and the gospel. As we unite together with Randy C. Davis (TBC executive director) and the TBC’s vision to start more churches and reach more people with the gospel, the association is more important than ever. “The light that shines farthest shines brightest at home!”
Continuing education is a great benefit of attending associational meetings and pastors conferences. We must be lifelong learners. Each associational gathering teaches us about missions, Bible study, and church leadership, thus aiding us to be more effective pastors.
Doctrinal issues in Baptist life have been best addressed by the association. The association pre-dates both state conventions and the national convention. Great doctrinal statements like the 1742 Philadelphia Baptist Confession of Faith guided Baptist churches long before other great statements came along. The 1925 Baptist Faith and Message is modeled after this 1742 association confession. When doctrinal issues arise among Baptist churches, the local association can address and handle them in tidy, efficient manners better than at a state or national level.
Relationships built in the association will make us and the church we serve stronger and more fruitful. Younger pastors need the wisdom of seasoned veteran pastors. Veteran pastors need the bright spirits of the younger pastor. We need each other! The “Lone Ranger” pastor is not the biblical model. We are soldiers together in Christ’s army. The DOM will be a friend and counselor for pastors. “Together for the Gospel” is our motto.
Prayer support is our continual need and associational relationships give us many prayer partners. We are to “pray one for another” (James 5:16). The sincere fervent prayers of fellow believers will carry the pastor as we fight the battles of life and ministry.
So, let’s love our association! We will be better laborers for God and our people. The local Baptist association is a blessing to the life and work of a pastor and a strength to the mission of our churches.