The Baptist association has been an important part of our history as Southern Baptists. It has been described as “the oldest cooperative unit in Baptist life tracing its existence back over 300 years.”
The Baptist association has been defined as “a fellowship of local autonomous churches with a singular vision to work together to claim their surrounding areas and ultimately the world for the Kingdom of Christ!”
Southern Baptist associations are much like Southern Baptist churches in that they are a diverse group and are unique in many ways. Some associations are large while others are small, so they cooperate with a neighboring association to accomplish their vision, maybe even sharing an Associational Mission Strategist (AMS).
I am blessed to have been part of some great associations in my ministry. I remember as a young man how the Green Valley Association brought churches together to do missions that our individual church could not do by itself. I’ve seen associations equip and resource leaders for ministry service through their church. I know of several Kentucky associations that serve as catalysts for church planting, and others that lead member churches to engage in evangelism and ministry efforts.
The Baptist Association is a value to member churches and important to their accomplishment of The Great Commission. Therefore, Southern Baptists have chosen to recognize October 18-25, 2020 as the Week of Prayer for Associational Missions.
Would you join with me in praying for your association in the following ways?
1. Pray for a spirit of unity and harmony within the churches as they partner together. Satan loves to cause division between believers and churches. Jesus pointed out the importance of unity in His priestly prayer (John 17) and a lack of harmony between churches is a stumbling block to accomplishment of Kingdom goals.
2. Pray for your Associational Mission Strategist and his family. An AMS is many things to many people, but he must first-of-all be a spiritual leader. He is expected to care for and challenge churches while loving and leading pastors. He has a difficult task. He and his family will be under attack and need your prayer support.
3. Pray for a clear vision to plant new churches. There is great opportunity in our state today for the planting of new churches. New churches are needed as we become increasingly unchurched and lost. Existing churches may not know how to plant a new church, but an association can be proactive and helpful to provide needed leadership and support.
4. Pray for effectiveness in strengthening existing churches. Many existing, traditional churches are struggling today. Their effectiveness is sometimes hindered by history and attitudes that limit their vision and create unnecessary challenges to outreach. An association is able to encourage and provide the resources for dysfunctional churches to become healthy and spiritually reproductive.
5. Pray for a passion and plan to impact lostness, both locally and globally. The 2010 Glenmary reports shows that only 12.9% of Kentuckians attend a church of any kind. Lostness in the Commonwealth abounds! Some churches need training, resources, or an evangelistic initiative like the Gospel to Every Home in-order to impact lostness.
6. Pray that your association is challenged to resource, support and encourage every pastor. There is no doubt that pastors are targeted by the enemy who desires to destroy their families and ministries. The AMS can be a great friend and encourager to local pastors. Fellowship and time together gives pastors the opportunity to just be themselves and share their needs and frustrations.
So, please pray for your association and your AMS during the week of prayer for associational missions. Lead your church to pray for the association and AMS too! As the association grows stronger, the churches will benefit and become more effective in their Kingdom work.