Associations: Partners on Mission
Moses had his father-in-law…
Jesus had his disciples…
Paul had the Philippians…
What did they all have?
Partners. Someone they could turn to as a resource, as an encourager, as a fellow pilgrim.
What partners do Baptist churches have?
Each other. And they have a fellowship group called an association;
Baptist associations, first established in Alabama in 1814, are partnerships of Baptist churches. The 75 associations generally follow county boundaries, but not always. Some associations are smaller; some are larger. They believe they can do more together than they can alone. The Baptist association is a self-governing fellowship of Baptist churches sharing a common faith which engages in mutual support and fellowship, as well as mission and ministry activities.
What do associations do?
They provide an avenue of partnership among Baptist churches by:
- doing local, regional, state, national, and international missions and ministry together;
- serving as a training, materials, and personnel resources for Baptist churches and leaders; and
- providing encouragement and support for their churches.
Through associations …
- Baptist churches can do local missions and ministry together that they probably could not do individually – a food pantry/clothes closet, a Hispanic ministry, raceway ministry, outreach to resort areas, starting a new mission/church, and many other ministries.
- Church leaders can get all kinds of training in all kinds of areas – from Sunday School to Vacation Bible School to community ministries to church music.
- Church leaders can get resources and materials – videos, tracts, references, guidance and advice, and more.
How does the association work?
Alabama Baptist associations are financially supported by church gifts (usually 3-5% of undesignated offerings), with some financial assistance from the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions through Cooperative Program gifts.
Each association has a team of elected leaders, usually including, the Moderator, a called associational missionary, the Director of Associational Missions. All associations rely on volunteers to assist with the organization and administration of the fellowship, mission, ministry, and training activities.