As an organization, we are dedicated to aiding churches in Valrico, Florida by inspiring pastors and staff, equipping pastoral and lay leaders, and helping churches engage their communities. It is not uncommon for pastors to express dissatisfaction with their local association. For churches to cooperate together in an association, they must agree on certain doctrinal positions and commit to upholding them. In the past six months, many associations have revised their ministry programming, leading to a newfound openness to their partnership.
When churches provide adequate support for an association, it can create a powerful network of ministries. Historically, the Baptist association has been “at the forefront” of doctrinal responsibility, as stated by Dr. John Sullivan: “The association is the theological watchdog of Southern Baptists”. This is especially true during the pandemic, when the value of local associations has grown significantly in the eyes of Southern Baptist church leaders.
An association can plan strategies and help churches spread the gospel to internationals and minister to them in Christ's name. The perception of associations has been improving over time due to the efforts of the Southern Baptist Conference of Associational Leaders (SBCAL) and its president and CEO, Ray Gentry. William Thornton, a lifelong Southern Baptist and semi-retired pastor who served in churches in South Carolina and Georgia, believes that associations give churches the opportunity to come together, work together, and be encouraged by one another. The association also provides credibility in their area by connecting them with other like-minded churches.
If churches adequately support an association, it can establish a strong network of ministries.