I have to confess that often I feel a bit strange in my current role as a Director of Missions. I love what I do, mind you. Its just that at one time, I considered Associations to be among the most useless institutions on planet earth...right up there with congress and those TSA guys at the airport.
In fairness, I admit that my strong bias against associations were based largely in negative experiences I had with them early in my ministry. And in truth, some of those perceptions were real, and regrettably, still are in some areas. The charge that the Association is a denominational dinosaur, and the Director is usually nothing more than a washed-out pastor is, as much as I hate to admit, true to a large extent in many areas of the country.
At the same time, two men over the past seven years have convinced me that if its done right, the Association still has the potential to produce a Kingdom synergy unparalleled anywhere else. Churches working together, leveraging their collective influence to extend the reign of Christ in our world is a wonder to watch, and I've never seen them work together with more effectiveness than when they are utilizing a lean, mean, well-oiled, Kingdom-minded Association to do it. The first of these men, Ron Davis, gave me a vision of what the association could be. The second man, my predecessor, demonstrated what it could be by building the association I now lead into a missionally-driven, local church centered entity.
Others have also been "shining lights" in this area, including Mike Day of the Mid-South Association in Memphis and Doyle Braden of Orange County Association, where Saddleback holds its associational membership.
But tonight, I want to talk about the association that I'm currenly the most familiar with; the one I am privileged to lead. While we haven't yet "arrived," I believe we are currently on a trajectory that will end with our being the kind of networking, synergistic, missional organization our churches both need and deserve. The following video was played publicly for the first time today at our annual meeting. It highlights what God has been doing in our midst, and how our association has played a role in His work. In short, this video represents our move toward what Associations were meant to be. Enjoy!