The Pathway from the Past
- The Beginning Days (1707-1814) The first association was the Philadelphia Association in 1707. The association does not have power over the churches, but was subservient to the churches. The association is autonomous, just as the church is autonomous. The association could advise the churches, but the churches were under no obligation to comply. They simply provide local churches the opportunity to cooperate together.
- The Transitional Years (1814-1920) During this time period the Southern Baptist Convention came into being (1845). The role of the association changed during this period. From providing doctrinal unity to promoting denominational materials.
- The Modern Era (1920-1978) During this period, the Cooperative Program came into being (1925).
- The Re-Formation (1978-2007) Begins with the Conservative Resurgance. Major institutional changes and a new Baptist Confession of Faith.
- Birthed . . . by Biblical Baptists
- Nurtured . . . by Believing Baptists
- Shaped . . . by Bureaucratic Baptists
- Defined . . . by Battling Baptists
- Questioned . . . by Befuddled Baptists
The Predicaments of the Present
- The Duplicated-Effort Syndrome
- The Institution-First Syndrome
- The Autonomous Hierarchy Syndrome
- The Codified Cooperation Syndrome
- The Thinly-Spread Missions Dollar Syndrome
- The Loss of Influence Syndrome
We have a great past and a present full of predicaments which we must manage. How will we manage these problems? Some have suggested that we start a new kind of association, united by affinity or functionality. Local associations are in need of an overhaul. But is an overhaul enough? Do we need a new car?
A Paradigm for the Future
- Church-driven (Sees that the Great Commission was given to the church, not to institutions.)
- Priority-based (Focused upon the priorities of the church, to behave like Jesus. Jesus started the church, developed leaders, preached the gospel, and sent others to preach the gospel.)
- Resource-focused (Exists to assist the churches.)
- Regionally-located (but not geographically bound)
- Denominationally-connected (will not rely on a state convention to be the primary source of resources and funds)
The state conventions and local associations will no longer exist as they now do. They will morph into regional associations centered around major cities.