"How Does This State Association Stuff Work, Anyway?"
By Jerrod Vickers
Recently, while standing outside our church before the annual meeting of Kansas Free Will Baptists, Wesley, a new attendee at our church, asked, “How does this Free Will Baptist state association stuff work, anyway?”
I quickly ran the mental gambit of our fellowship of churches and administrations, and, wanting a simple answer, replied something close to this: “Free Will Baptists believe in the autonomy and authority of the local church. These churches voluntarily come together and associate with one another, so we can accomplish greater things for the Lord, on a much larger scale, than we could ever do as a single church. It also gives us the opportunity to encourage and help one another as we co-labor in the Kingdom, working beside one another.”
Wesley smiled and nodded approvingly, seemingly content with this brief answer to his question. His question came at a great time for me. Kansas was about to adopt a new constitution and a repentance declaration. We also were tasked with choosing a new state treasurer and clerk. The nominees were to replace the current leaders who had led for decades but were now retiring. Big shoes to fill!
I was a little nervous about the business meeting where we would complete these important tasks. I couldn’t help but wonder if there would be contention over documents or nominations, or even the roles they would fill.
Yet, answering Wesley’s question reminded me of our real purpose of the upcoming meeting. I love my Free Will Baptist brothers and sisters. It is an honor and privilege to labor together to bring glory and honor to Jesus. When I stepped into the business meeting later that morning, I looked around and saw others who loved Jesus just like me. They wanted God to move in Kansas just like I do. I began to relax, reminded by a simple question that God is in control of the Free Will Baptist work in Kansas, and He will continue to lead us in powerful, unified ways.
It would help us all to remember this: our sister churches, districts and quarterlies, state associations, and national departments are not our competitors or our enemies. They are our comrades-in-arms, our peers, the ones who have our backs when the true enemy of the soul attacks.
I love Jesus, and I love Free Will Baptists, too. Let’s work together for the Kingdom. We have much work to do, and we will do it better together.
About the Author: Jerrod Vickers is pastor of spiritual development/youth at Cross Point Free Will Baptist Church in Wichita, Kansas: crosspointfwbc.com.