News about associational missions was among the headlines during the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) annual meeting in Dallas, except for one action by messengers of importance to the 1,100 Baptist associations across the country.
What made the news: a recommended title was unanimously approved by the Southern Baptist Conference of Associational Leaders (SBCAL) – “associational mission strategist,” or AMS – to be considered by Baptist associations to supplant the title of “director of missions.” The AMS designation was among an SBCAL study committee’s recommendations to more accurately reflect the range of strategies being utilized by local and regional associations of Baptist churches.
Not garnering headlines, yet significant to Baptist associations, was a vote by messengers at the annual meeting to change the name and dates for the annual associational emphasis on the SBC Calendar of Activities.
The new name: Week of Prayer for Baptist Associations (formerly Associational Missions Emphasis).
The new dates will be the third week in October: for 2019, Oct. 20-26 (formerly in May).
The annual emphasis, said Ray Gentry, SBCAL executive director, underscores “the importance of cooperating together as sister churches to reach our local mission field and to pray for the association, its leaders and its ministries. … Southern Baptist missions cooperation and collaboration starts at home and goes forth to the ends of the earth.”
In churches, the emphasis can highlight “what your association is doing to assist churches in advancing the gospel – whether church planting, mission trips and missions mobilization, church revitalization, school and community impact events, children’s camps, church leadership development, etc.,” Gentry, who also leads Georgia’s Southside Baptist Network in McDonough, noted in comments emailed to Baptist Press.
Six years of undated resources, which can be utilized at any time of the year, can be accessed at http://www.ameresources.org through a partnership between the SBCAL and the North American Mission Board.
“There are themes, graphics, videos, sermon helps and bulletin inserts,” Gentry said. The 2019 Week of Prayer for Baptist Associations theme is “Associations: Equipping Churches to Make and Mobilize Disciples,” with next year’s resources to be available on Dec. 1 of this year.
“The association is how Southern Baptist churches collaborate in their city/county/region to help one another in missional partnerships,” Gentry said. “Associations assist pastors and churches in advancing the gospel in a variety of ways, depending on their setting. Examples include, but are not limited to, providing a block party trailer for churches; pastors’ conferences; leadership development for pastors, staff and church lay leaders; community impact ideas and assistance; associational mission trips and partnerships; and church planting and church revitalization helps, coaching, manpower and support.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by Baptist Press senior editor Art Toalston, with reporting by Joy Allmond of LifeWay Christian Resources.)