WHAT IF THE CHURCH IN THE U.S. GOT SERIOUS ABOUT REACHING PEOPLE?
UBA has gone through three distinct stages in her 170 history.
UBA 1.0 - Formed in the early 1840's by a group of three small , UBA promoted Baptist understanding of doctrine and Baptist church polity, provided fellowship, encouraged starting new churches, and promoted benevolent work - as did other associations. The later development of national and state conventions led to the next stage of associational life for associations.
UBA 2.0 -- Baptist churches became standardized, each virtually like every other Baptist church. Local associations became implementers of national programs at the local level. The primary purpose of the association was to help produce good Baptists.
UBA 3.0 - in the late 1980's and early 1990's, UBA transitioned from being a promoter of Baptist programs to a team of consultants for churches and community transformation in the mid 90s. UBA led the way in leadership development with programs like Young Leaders (later LeadersEdge) which was duplicated in associations across the country, church planting and community transformation. Mission Houston grew directly out of the community transformation initiative of UBA.
Houston itself has transitioned from being a bi-racial Southern city (1960) to being one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse cities in America. We've identified about 350 different ethnolinguistic people groups in Houston with 142 languages spoken. Four out of ten people living in Houston will not speak in English when they go home tonight. There are more Hispanics living in Harris County today than the total population of Harris County in 1960!
The folks moving into our neighborhoods from around the world are no longer predominantly white, Protestant or Jew. Many will be Catholic (often a syncretized version of Catholicism). More likely they will be Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, animist, or of no religious faith whatsoever. This provides the greatest opportunity for world missions at a local level we have ever known. While our forefathers learned about missions in a study group, we can learn by doing it firsthand in our city. This is one of several reasons it may be time for UBA 4.0.
What might the next iteration of Union Baptist Association, what I'm calling UBA 4.0, look like? That's yet to be determined, but I believe it must focus on our Great Commission responsibilities.
Peter Drucker said every organization must answer two questions: what business are you in? and how's business? I believe churches are in the Great Commission business. We are in the business of making disciples of all peoples. If that's true, then how's business? (I addressed this a bit in my previous blog "A Parable Inverted.") The short answer is this -- "not good!" If the Great Commission is the church's primary task, and if we are not doing that job very well, and if it is the function of the association to assist the church in fulfilling it's purpose, then maybe it's time for us to rethink the purpose and function of the association.
I continue to wonder what would happen if the association, UBA or any association, saw as it's primary purpose to mobilize churches to take on lostness - intentionally and persistently.
I think it's time for UBA 4.0. What do you think?
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