‘What Does the Austin Baptist Association Do Anyway’?

As a Baptists, we believe in local church autonomy. Yet that doesn’t mean we ignore or neglect the broader community of the body of Christ. Indeed, we are in friendly cooperation with the Southern Baptist Convention, the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, and the Austin Baptist Association. And what does the ABA do? I’ll let Executive Director David Smith explain in his own words. Here is a letter the ABA recently mailed to all associating churches, explaining their priorities and strengths:
 
—————
 
I want to begin by thanking you for your participation in and support of our Austin Baptist Association. I am frequently asked the question,What are we doing as an Association?” Many times, I hear this question at budget planning times as churches are justifying their supported ministries, but it comes up at other times as well. By the way, I am happy to answer this question any time.
 
As an Association, we have defined our work in three priorities: Church Planting, Church Strengthening, and Vision Casting.
 
We are currently funding 11 churches at various levels of financial support, based on need (see the list of church plants at the end of this document). Of course, there are many other ways that we support our plants beyond finances. We support with strategy development, staffing, policy development , etc. The church strengthening priority has grown into a church to church, or peer, approach to meet the needs that an individual church has identified. We accomplish this strengthening through a variety of forms of consultation. Many times, it is through connecting sister churches that have expertise in a particular area.
 
Vision casting is the mandate to lead our Association of churches to participate together to do something that no one church, or even a handful of churches, could do on their own. Leading our churches to unite with the Unceasing Prayer ministry in the city is one such initiative. This year, we are encouraging churches to permit their church building(s) to be utilized by other congregations. Not only is this an effort to be good stewards of the building(s), but also as a way to advance Christ’s Kingdom. We are not asking the churches to give their space away, but to allow it to be used for a reasonable fee.
 
As I pray about the unique role of the Association, I think of three words: networking, proximity, and leverage. These three words describe some of the ways the ABA can serve you, We network/connect churches through close relationships. Someone has said that the relationship to the national SBC can be described as an acquaintance, the State Convention can be described as friends, but the local Association is family!
 
Last year, two of our ABA churches were in need of a pastor. Because of our network and intimate knowledge of our churches, we identified Associational churches with very capable associate pastors. These two churches granted permission for the churches in need to talk to their associate pastors, for the good of the larger body of Christ over the comfort of one congregation. As a result, the churches in need hired these men as their pastors. What typically takes 6 to 9 months took less than two months. This type of synergy can only happen in the context of an Association.
 
The second word is proximity. Because of the closeness of our churches, we know and can intimately respond to sister churches and their needs. Knowing the culture of the greater Austin area is a fantastic starting point when offering help to Associational churches. We have seen great things come from churches in regional vicinity when they join forces to provide ministry and service to their area of our Austin region.
 
Third, the word leverage. Leverage is defined as using (something) to maximum advantage. We, as an Association of churches, can maximize our efforts for the greatest Kingdom impact. Selling the Associational building is a great example of this desire for maximum impact. We know that new church starts are effective in reaching the lost. We now have a strong and growing investment fund that is totally restricted to the work of planting churches. We now are in a position to put more into church plants than we ever have before. Because our Associational staff is using free space at Hyde Park, those monies can be maximized for our churches. Finally the association has been deeded 3 church properties on which we are maximizing the ability for church starts to meet at a greatly reduced rent! We presently have 14 churches speaking 10 different languages! We are also in the process of making upgrades to these facilities as funds become available.
 
I hope this helps you answer the question of, “What are we doing as an Association?” I would be happy to come share with your church and/or staff about the work of the Association. I would ask that you continue your faithful giving. As every church commits to 1% of their undesignated receipts to the Association, we are able to do something together that would not have been accomplished alone. We are better together!!
 
Please let me know how I may be of service to you and your church.
 
David W. Smith
Executive Director, Austin Baptist Association
 

List of Church Plants we support and their pastors. We encourage you to keep these in prayer.

  1. Austin Woori Baptist Church: Hyung Joong Kim
  2. Austin Zotung Baptist Church: Khaw Lian
  3. Caldwell County Cowboy Church: Ty Shafer
  4. Iglesia Bautista Gracia de Dios: Felix Guerrero
  5. New Life Christian Development: Kenneth Perkins
  6. Austin Karen Baptist Church: Looking for a Pastor
  7. Japanese Church of Austin: Byoung Lee
  8. IB Alfa Y Omega: Jonathan Norambuena
  9. Iglesia Bautista Vida Nueva: Felipe Garcia
  10. Hope of Life: Dieudonne Ratabagaya
  11. Epic Life: Brent Isbill