Association is a term that defines how Baptist churches work together in partnership. Churches choose to be part of the local Baptist association and each determines how much participation and financial support they will invest. Many of today’s associations have stepped up to provide value and are leading member churches in revitalization, church planting, leadership development and missions.
Churches partnering through the local association is sometimes overlooked. Yet, we know that partnership between churches is an important aspect of New Testament Christianity. The apostle Paul and other New Testament leaders modeled partnership between churches. While their context may have been different from ours today, the pattern of partnership is repeatable. God still provides uniquely gifted people to lead partnerships today.
In the past, churches partnered together – helping each other with doctrine and practice (Acts 8:14-25; Gal. 3), relocating leaders to strengthen other situations (Acts 11:19-23, 25-26, 12:25, 16:1-3), sending individuals and teams on short-term visits (Acts 11:27, 19:21-22; 1 Cor. 4:15-17; Phil. 2:19-29; 2 Tim. 1:18), sending money to help each other (Acts 11:28-30), and together advancing the gospel and church plants (Rom. 15:24; 2 Cor. 10:15-16).
Here are 5 reasons why your church should partner in the local association –
- Partnership Contributes to the Mission –
Our mission from Jesus is to take the gospel to our neighborhoods and the nations, from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth (Matt. 28:19; Acts 1:8). How could any local church do that alone? But if we partner with the association, every church can participate in local and world missions. Every church can pray for, give to and participate through the association towards church planting and missions. Together, our mission can be healthier, stronger, longer, and more sustainable.
2. Partnership encourages Maturity –
No matter how educated or experienced your church leadership is, the local church will mature and strengthen when it receives challenge and encouragement from other church leaders, like those in the association. Churches working together in an association hold each other accountable to doctrine, practices, and outreach efforts.
3. Partnership Is an Expression of Humility –
It honors Christ when we consider others better than ourselves (Phil 2:3) and seek ways to work together for the sake of the gospel. A church is sadly mistaken if they pridefully believe they don’t need to partner with other churches involved in the same mission.
4. Partnership Provides Synergy –
An association can help strengthen member churches and prop up weaknesses that may be slowing the work. Associations help maximize a church’s potential influence, providing a network through which the churches can influence more broadly than they could individually.
5. Partnership Provides Support –
Sometimes churches go through immensely challenging seasons. If a church loses a leader to burn out, sickness, or failure, she will find support and encouragement from other member churches because of their partnership in the association.