Depending on your specific denomination and inclusive convictions, there are different reasons and ways that local churches agree to associate with one another. Social justice, mercy ministry and the presence of organizations like ECT (Evangelicals and Catholics Together) force us to ask this question. In my SBC circles, we are autonomous churches who associate at a national level (SBC Convention), state level (state conventions), and local associations. Our church in Louisville, KY is apart of the Long Run Baptist Association (LRBA), one of the oldest, functioning, local SBC associations (over 200 years old). With an historical association as this, there is a rich heritage that should be celebrated, yet there also exists some great challenges. One of those challenges in this post-conservative resurgence era in the SBC is what must we at least agree upon if we are to associate and work together.
I would argue regardless the kind of church and denominational associations of which we are apart, we must find our basic common ground in one place…the exclusivity of the gospel. For many years as this historical association continued to move forward through the aftermath of the conservative resurgence, the perception of this line of gospel exclusivity continued to become more and more fuzzy. Last night at our annual meeting, a major resolution was passed unanimously that we are convinced will set in motion the trajectory for the future as we ask this question and determine who we can and cannot associate with as churches.
Here is the resolution for Gospel clarity passed at the annual meeting:
Because of our awareness of the increasing spiritual darkness and confusion about the one true Gospel, we the churches of the Long Run Baptist Association resolve to affirm our commitment to this one true Gospel: That Jesus, God’s only Son, our sinless Savior, died on the cross, bearing the full wrath of God for our sins in our place. He was raised from the dead and is now seated at the right hand of the Father waiting to judge the living and the dead at His return. Whosoever repents and places faith in Jesus alone receives the forgiveness of sins. Jesus’ perfect life is credited to that one, and that person is fully and eternally reconciled to the Father. We further resolve to communicate with clarity that Jesus is the only name under heaven that has been given among people, by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12, John 14:6, John 3:16).
In addition to this resolution, the gavel of moderator for this next year was also passed to me. Therefore, I would ask that you would pray for me and our association as we try to determine the next step to gospel faithfulness and local church health in this coming year.