Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Second Thoughts About Associations

I’ve served Union Baptist Association in an executive leadership capacity for twenty-five years, and now I’m beginning to have second thoughts about the value of the association.
There was a time when Baptist churches recognized the value of the association. When Baptist churches started forming in Texas in the early 1800’s one of the first things they did was form a Union Baptist Association. For almost a century and a half the value of the association for local churches was undisputed, but that was primarily because churches were smaller and was easier to see the value of cooperation and working together through the association.

The trend now is toward larger, better-resourced churches.  In Houston, 19% of the people who attend church every weekend attend a megachurch (see Barna).  (As late as the 1960s there were no UBA churches that qualified as a megachurch by today’s standards.)  Today, with larger, better-resourced churches who are capable of doing many things for themselves, many are wondering if associations are outdated. If not outdated, is their usefulness limited to smaller churches? Hard as these questions are to consider, they deserve an answer.