Associational leaders are chief missions mobilizers, panelists say

August 6, 2021

Associational missionaries rank among the primary mobilizers of pastors and churches for the Great Commission across the country, a trio of Baptist leaders told a gathering of pastors and ministry leaders during a recent conference held in North Carolina.

“You are the first and primary mobilizers in our country,” said Todd Unzicker, new executive director-treasurer of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. “It’s not the national convention. It’s not even the state convention. It’s our (local Baptist) associations.”

Unzicker’s remarks came during a panel discussion titled “Ministry and the Future of the Southern Baptist Convention” that was part of a conference for associational mission strategists (AMS) held Aug. 3-4 at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) in Wake Forest, N.C. Unzicker was joined on the panel by SEBTS president Danny Akin and Kevin Smith, executive director of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware.

“These (leaders) are invaluable to the future of reaching our nation with the gospel and catalyzing their churches to reach the nations with the gospel,” Akin said. “I am their biggest fan, and they are my heroes.”

Smith agreed with Unzicker and Akin, adding that associations are the natural place for pastors to connect and partner around missions, prayer and mutual support and encouragement.

“The association is the most intimate and deliberate place for continuous interaction,” Smith said. “I can’t speak for every state, but more and more pastors I meet are alienated, alone and in need of relationships…. Spiritually, discipleship and relationship-wise, the association is so, so, so, so valuable.”

The third annual conference featured panel discussions and workshops on topics such as ministry strategy, missions mobilization, leadership development and more. The event drew 85 attendees, who represented associational missionaries, pastors and other ministry leaders from 11 different states.

“Our focus is to connect and serve our Baptist associations,” said event organizer Chris Allen, denominational relations specialist and ministry teams coordinator at SEBTS. “We feel that this brigade is where the center of our churches gather and where our pastors band together.”

“I can’t wait to work with our AMSs to be a movement of churches on mission together.” — Todd Unzicker

Unzicker and other N.C. Baptist staff members also led workshops during the conference.

Terry Long and Sandy Mark, state convention staffers in the area of church health and revitalization, led a workshop on church fostering, a process in which a healthy church provides resources to a struggling church.

Unzicker led a workshop titled “Leveraging the Association to Be on Mission.” During the workshop, Unzicker facilitated a conversation with attendees on thinking biblically and creatively about how to mobilize local churches to be on mission.

During his talk, Unzicker shared aspects of his personal testimony along with his ministry experiences as an international missionary, associational missionary, local church pastor and now as a state executive.

“I really feel like I’m the least likely person to be standing here before you,” said Unzicker, who left his self-described dream job as a sports reporter after coming to faith in Christ and surrendering to God’s call on his life. “God, by His grace, saved me in September in 2004, and I haven’t gotten over that.”

Unzicker shared five guiding principles for associations to be on mission. They were:

  • The local church is God’s “Plan A” for reaching a lost world.
  • People are the mission.
  • Prayer must be our top priority.
  • Let local leaders lead.
  • We must proclaim the gospel in word and deed.

“God invites us to be on mission for Him,” Unzicker said. “The local association is the No. 1 spot for partnership to take place.

“Let’s put everything on the table to reach people, no matter what it is. Associations can be on the frontline for that. I can’t wait to work with our AMSs to be a movement of churches on mission together.”


by Chad Austin  
/  Communications  /  Baptist State Convention of North Carolina

Meet the Directors: John Butler

As a movement of churches on mission together, the work of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina is organized into five groups, each headed by a director of that ministry area. The five groups that make up the convention’s structure aim to connect churches and...

Meet the Directors: Seth Brown

As a movement of churches on mission together, the work of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina is organized into five groups, each headed by a director of that ministry area. The five groups that make up the convention’s structure aim to connect churches and...

Ser socios ha dado por resultado el plantar una iglesia hispana al oeste de Carolina del Norte

Hace dos años que una iglesia al oeste de Carolina del Norte y un creciente estudio bíblico en un hogar comenzaron una asociación de la cual surgió Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church en Español. «Me entusiasma saber que estaré haciendo la voluntad de nuestro Señor», dijo Carlos Pérez, el...

Partnership leads to Hispanic church plant in western NC

Two years ago, a western North Carolina church and a growing home Bible study began a partnership that led to the recent launch of a Hispanic church plant, Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church en Español. “I am excited to know that I can do the will of our Lord,” Carlos Perez, the new...

Meet the Directors: Kathryn Carson

As a movement of churches on mission together, the work of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina is organized into five groups, each headed by a director of that ministry area. The five groups that make up the convention’s structure aim to connect churches and...

Being pro-life calls for advocacy and action

As followers of Jesus Christ, the sanctity of human life is an issue that we can all stand united together on. Scripture tells us that all human beings are made in the image of God, are knit together in our mother’s womb, and are fearfully and wonderfully made. In 1984, former...

Meet the Directors: Chuck Register

As a movement of churches on mission together, the work of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina is organized into five groups, each headed by a director of that ministry area. The five groups that make up the convention’s structure aim to connect churches and...

Meet the Directors: Brian Upshaw

As a movement of churches on mission together, the work of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina is organized into five groups, each headed by a director of that ministry area. The five groups that make up the convention’s structure aim to connect churches and...

1 Comment

  1. Shirley Sells

    Great story Chad. It’s exciting to see new leadership in action. I am excited for the AMSs.

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Stay connected by signing up for the N.C. Baptist monthly newsletter.

Select Language ^

Share This

Share this with your friends!