Mike Day is Director of Missions for the Mid-South Baptist Association, Memphis, TN. He earned the D. Min from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. Dr. Day, who previously served with the North American Mission Board, is highly respected for his creative leadership.
1. The Philadelphia Association
The Philadelphia Association captured the heart of associationalism. It set the course for what the association of the future should be. It should be church-centered and cooperative. It set forth some concepts how churches should relate to one another.
1. The association is not superior or a superior adjudicatory over the churches. It has no superintendency but was subservient.
2. The association was autonomous just as the churches were autonomous.
3. The association could advise the churches about proper procedures and beliefs, but it would not dictate them to the church.
2. The Transitional Years (1814-1920)
It changed from being doctrine-based to implementing Convention policies, from guardian to denominational promoter, from churches to Convention.
3. Boom Time for Baptists (1920-1978)
During this period, cooperation became a watchword for Southern Baptists. It set the stage for the Cooperative Program and the adoption of the Baptist Faith and Message (which addresses cooperation).
4. The Re-formation (1978-present)
This period was rough, necessary, fruitful, and dramatically defined. It was not a period free of frustrations. In response to dramatic change, both associations and state conventions have experienced great pain.
Birthed by Biblical Baptists
Nurtured by Believing Baptists
Shaped by Bureaucratic Baptists
Defined by Battling Baptists
Questioned by Befuddled Baptists
** B.L.O.G. = Better Listen to the Outpost Guys **
The Predicament of the Present
1. “The Duplicated Effort Syndrome” (doing the same thing in Baptist life in many different levels)
2. “The Institution First Syndrome” (caring for institutions above everything else – “feeding the beast”)
3. “The Autonomous Hierarchy Syndrome” (implied hierarchy where we seek the approval of others)
4. “Codified Cooperation Syndrome” (BF&M isn’t good enough but trying to use other means to define cooperation)
5. “The Thinly-Spread Missions Dollar Syndrome” (mission dollar is thinning out – we have to share more dollars with more ministries)
6. “The Lost-Influence Syndrome” (the church is losing its influence in the world)
These are not to be controversial or from a prophet. Any everyday Southern Baptist can see these predicaments at every level. We know from our pathway where we have been. We sense where we have landed and what predicaments have arrived.
A Paradigm for the Future
1. It is Church-driven. The Great Commission was given to the Church and not denominations or its entities.
2. It is priority-based (that of the Church). The Church is to be like Jesus since we are the Body of Christ. Jesus sent the Church into the world. Three main priorities: Church planting, mobilization of God’s people, and leadership development.
3. It is resource-focused.
4. It is institution-free. It will work hard to avoid owning anything (maybe a building). It doesn’t have to own camps, ministry centers, schools, etc.
5. It is strategically-managed. The administration will model a catalytic, facilitative, missionary role. They will provide resources and help for churches.
6. It is regionally-located but not geographically bound. It will not longer need a county line or state line. Why would we compel ourselves to operate with outdated boundaries? Configured how? Maybe 100 largest cities?
7. It is denominationally-connected but not in its traditional ways. It will be a combined entity. It will not rely on state convention for training, income, etc.
It is what it is. It is where we are. That’s our Convention as I see it. It is time for us to apply the pressure and stop the bleeding.