What Is a Baptist Association?
Written by: Wesley Smith, Associational Missionary
There is a popular TV show on right now entitled, “This Is Us.” Though I haven’t watched it, I have to wonder if the draw or connection to the show is that it’s a raw depiction of an American family that many can relate to. With Social Media only showing the good of today’s family, and not necessarily all the struggles, I would say that many are relieved to see a family much like their own.
The more I talk to people, the more I realize that not too many understand the Southern Baptist Structure, or what a local Baptist Association is. I get many questions, “What do you all do,” or “What is this place?” I love those questions, because I love being able to share what we do.If you’re new to being a Baptist, or simply just don’t know, here it is, “This Is Us,” part 1.
Baptist churches in the southern region of the United States have been working together since the mid 1800’s. The Southern Baptist Convention began in 1845. I believe many churches were working together even before then. That’s how the national group began. A local Baptist Association is a network of churches working together to share the gospel in their area or region. There are currently about seventy associations across North Carolina and about six hundred in the United States.
The Greater Cleveland County Baptist Association began in 1851 as the Kings Mountain Baptist Association. Churches in the area had been working together since 1800 as the Broad River Association. The association became the Greater Cleveland County Baptist Association in 2002. We continue the work together that God began, one hundred and sixty seven years ago.
Today we are eighty eight churches working together to impact lostness in Cleveland County. GCCBA exists to “Unite congregations in effective missions and ministry.” Each church has a unique gifting or way to reach the people in their community or area. We work together in many ways. We provide fellowship and training opportunities for pastors, church staff and church leaders. We also provide short term mission projects for churches to be involved in. Our office serves as a community assistance office for our churches. We want to help you, help those in your communities. There is a food pantry and clothing room at our office. We also help assist with utilities and some medicine.
Sixty Five percent of churches have plateaued or declined across the U.S. Nineteen churches a week in North America close their doors. We believe the local church is God’s Plan A to reveal himself to world! Our goal is to provide training that will help the local church discover who God wants them to be in their community and help them make disciples. We offer weekly fellowships for pastors and church staff to network and grow together. The Ministers Conference meets each month to fellowship, learn and grow together. There are two deacon training’s each year, as well as a yearly church leadership training, and a Senior Adult Rally. Tuesday Bible Study is offered quarterly. This give us the chance to study and grow in God’s word together. We also promote other opportunities for training offered by our state and national ministry partners.
There are other ministries of the association like the Baptist Counseling Center, Jail Ministry, Back to School Ministry, Greatest Treat Festival, and the Toy Store. Our goal is to help you meet the needs of those in your community. We would love for those who are being assisted to have contact with a local church so they can be discipled. Along with helping churches, we also work with local agencies helping to assist those who live in Cleveland County. Volunteers and donations are always needed. This ministry does not exist without you, the churches.
There are an estimated 7.5 million people who are far from God in North Carolina; 80,000 of those are in Cleveland County. We need to work together to make disciples, bring glory and honor to God, and bless our community. Big churches medium churches, and small churches, we are stronger together!