Associations are networks of churches in your geographical region that gather together usually around this time of year and many in October: (1) to celebrate what God has been doing among the churches and (2) to help you understand what the churches in your association can do to spread the Gospel together to reach communities for Christ.

Some associations have already gathered for business sessions and for a celebration of what God has been and will be doing. Your presence as messengers at the annual meetings can help determine the direction of associational leadership.

I have the privilege to serve the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions (SBOM) as the missionary on assignment to work with associations, their leadership, associational search teams, and especially your Associational Missionary (Strategist)/Director of Missions (AM/DOM).

Associations are dependent upon the contributions of the churches of their association to sustain the work. The SBOM does not hire your AM/DOM or oversee the work of any association. In the same way that your church is autonomous, so is your association.

My role is to be an encourager, a provider of training opportunities, and assisting your AM/DOM in being strategic in their work with you and your churches.

Your responsibility – and, yes, you do have a responsibility should you choose to accept it – is to be an encourager, to walk alongside your AM/DOM in the work you have commissioned him to do, and to reach your communities for Christ with the partnership of your cooperating association member churches.

We are blessed in Alabama to have some of the finest missionaries serving your associations. We are blessed to have the opportunities to partner through associations and through the SBOM with missionaries in Alabama, across the nation, and around the world.

Many associations work in partnership with your churches in training and sending church planters as well as in supporting missionaries through long-term and short-term missions projects.

Join your association this year in your annual meeting. Support your AM/DOM through prayer and the financial support of member churches in an association.

Be an encourager of your pastor and encourage him to be a leader in the work of your association.

Remember Paul’s challenge to us in Colossians 3:17 (HCSB): “And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.“

State Missionary Rick Barnhart may be contacted at 1-800-264-1225, ext. 220, or (334) 613-2220, rbarnhart@alsbom.org.

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Rick Barnhart

State Missionary Rick Barnhart has been employed by the State Board of Missions since August 2012 and is director of the office of Associational Missions and Church Planting.
Rick and his wife, Marcy, are members at Lifeway Community Church, Loxley. They have three children and two grandchildren.
Rick Barnhart
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