Associations: A Good Samaritan Story
Associations come in all shapes and sizes, just like local churches. Comparing associations is like comparing children in a family – Which one is your favorite? I have a dear friend who is the director of an association in Texas that has about 600 churches. To compare this association’s worth and value to one that has only 40-50 local congregations is preposterous. The large association can provide almost limitless funds and resources, but they do not personally serve all their churches with the same level of fellowship and personal support that the smaller association offers.
Originating in 1707, associations were created by churches who wanted fellowship and knew that doctrinal integrity and theological agreement were invaluable. Some churches expect the local association to accomplish what the state and NAMB are tasked with, but this was not the foundational mission of the local association. These “first-responders” can reach a church or pastor faster than any other institution and begin triage toward healing before any other agency is even aware of the damage or trauma.
Associations do not possess the deep pockets of the SBC, NAMB or state conventions, but these agencies can never replace the speedy response, personal time, support, encouragement, and intimacy of the local Associational family.
Gateway Baptist Association is located in the east St. Louis Metro area of Illinois. Gateway is comprised of 40 churches who work in voluntary cooperation for the purpose of spreading the Gospel. The association exists as an equipper and coach to healthy congregations and a “first-responder” and caregiver to churches and pastors that feel needy, helpless, or discouraged. Unlike the Southern Baptist Convention, the North American Mission Board and state conventions, GBA receives no financial assistance from Cooperative Program dollars.
Normally the convention and the state are unaware of the local church’s current needs, but the association works in and among the churches and pastors and has first-hand contact with their present conditions, present struggles, and present successes. GBA is the Good Samaritan for the churches in our local area.
We serve our churches and pastors so they can focus on the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) and Acts 1:8. We all function together as the body of Christ living out the Great Commandments. If your pastor or church is struggling, your association is most likely the first one to hear about it and respond to that need just like the Good Samaritan. When your church partners with the local association you are joining this Good Samaritan as we bind up the wounded and care for the needs of those struggling or impaired.
We are a church-first association! We serve our member churches, so our Lord is lifted high! May our united efforts help us reach the lost and keep churches thriving!
The three major areas of GBA assistance are: Gospel Saturation, Leadership Coaching, and Church Improvement. Each area is performed in a multiple of ways.
- Church Starting/Planting
- Disaster Relief Ministries
- Missional Engagement
- Evangelism Training
- Spiritual Support
- Personal Support
- Staff and Leadership Equipping
- Deacon Training
- Interim and Transitional Pastor Training
- Peer and Church Planter Coaching
- ReCharge (Revitalization process)
- Demographic Awareness
- Children’s Missions
- Technology Enhancement
- Training/Equipping Seminars