Why the Descriptor: Associational Mission Strategist
How did the blue-ribbon Study Team, after months of prayer, research, and study, come up with this new descriptor, Associational Mission Strategist (AMS)?[i] The title came out of the 17 Proficiencies that were agreed upon as most helpful for an associational leader to be successful, regardless of context.
“Associational” refers to the member churches that constitute the local Baptist association. We encourage pastors and churches to associate together for fellowship, equipping, encouragement, missions, and evangelism. Synonyms for association include: friendship, relationship, connection, and involvement.
An effective associational leader must be associationally minded, not focused on himself (he should not seek to preach as often as he can, for example). He loves, cares, and prays for his pastors, whether or not he agrees with everything they do since each church is autonomous.
“Mission” is singular because it speaks of the Great Commission that Christ gave to each church.[ii] J.C. Bradley encapsulates our mission well in his classic book A Baptist Association: Churches On Mission Together:
“Associations help the churches in ways no other general Baptist body can. The association is concerned with the whole life of its churches just as the family is concerned with the whole life of its members. In whatever the churches do in faithful response to God’s mission, the association exists to help them. The association is a network of relationships through which churches give and receive assistance in the fulfillment of their mission.” [iii]
“Strategist” concerns the overall work that the associational leader does in serving the congregations to accomplish the mission. Synonyms for “strategic” are: planned, tactical, calculated, deliberate, considered, and intentional. Do those words describe your association? Are you being strategic in the ways your association is assisting its churches in advancing the Gospel? Is the mission and vision of your association seen as planned, tactical, calculated, deliberate, considered, and intentional? Honestly, mine is not there yet. This new descriptor stretches me and my associational leadership in a good way. I hope it will do the same for you, whether you decide to accept it as your title or not.
To the praise of His glory,
Quotable Quote: Next to the favor of God, everything rises and falls on leadership.
Dan Reiland’s leadership blog, 1.17.20, Leading from the First Chair
[ii] Matthew 28:18-20
[iii] J.C. Bradley, A Baptist Association: Churches On Mission Together (Convention Press, 1984), p. 19