MIDLAND, MI – Southern Baptists have long insisted that the local church is primary in our denomination and that associations and conventions are secondary – existing to serve the local church so it can carry out its mission. The local church does not exist to serve associations and conventions. (Jesus never said, “I will build my association” or “I will build my convention.”) Since denominational entities exist to serve the churches, we believe churches should be directing the convention rather than the convention directing the churches. Southern Baptists also believe that stronger, healthier churches result in stronger, healthier associations which ultimately result in stronger, healthier state and national conventions. In other words, it is advantageous for associations and conventions to serve and invest in the churches because, in the long run, they will benefit from it.
Associational leaders across Michigan believe that the local Association can play a vital biblical role in helping our churches fulfill the Great Commission. We desire to see Associational Champions arise, receive training and take leadership in the Associations that lack Associational Missionaries. This Champion would become a Pastor-to-Pastors and attempt to build community, trust, fellowship and relationships. As this occurs, he would learn and understand the uniqueness of each pastor and his church, their needs, and how the Association could best serve them. Occasional Association-wide events could serve to rebuild relationships, trust, provide opportunities for networking between churches and pastors, and such events would allow everyone to celebrate what God is doing in the local churches. Things like this would strengthen and encourage the churches and pastors in that area.
Bay Area Baptist Associational missionary, David Roberts, says, “We believe there needs to be more ‘cooperation’ among our churches and less ‘program’. We need more associating so we can get more done together than we can do alone. Sometimes churches and pastors needlessly suffer and struggle because they feel they are alone in the work. Listen… YOU ARE NOT ALONE! And the best way to experience the reality of cooperation where you are is to get involved in your local Association and start fellowshipping with other pastors and other churches. If the Association you are a ‘member’ of is not functioning, START A NEW ONE! You don’t need anyone’s permission to do that. You know what you need where you are and you know what you have where you are. How can you use that to elicit, combine and direct the energy of the Southern Baptist pastors and congregations in your part of Michigan?”
If any of your state Associational Missionaries can help you revamp and revitalize your Association (or start a new one), reach out to them and let them know. We want to do whatever we can to make that happen. It’s time to move forward in Michigan. We need each other. Let’s do it together!
There are five associational missionaries who serve across Michigan:
Jon Beard (Motor Cities Metro)
Jim Glidewell (South Central)
Jim Marcus (Genesee)
David Roberts (Bay Area Baptist)
Chuck Turner (Central and Lendale)
There are 14 Associations of Southern Baptist Churches in Michigan, eight of which do not have an Associational Missionary:
Michigan Associational leaders have asked Jim Marcus to serve as Associational Liaison to the BSCM to represent Associations of churches and advocate on their behalf.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
David Roberts has 23 years of pastoral ministry experience in MI, NY and NC and has served as an Associational Missionary in the Bay Association for 2.5 years.