We are an association of autonomous churches that operate with an Executive that is put in place by the churches of our association. Here’s how it works…
Church Congregations Call and Appoint their own Pastors
Being an association of congregational churches, we encourage our member churches to appoint godly and like-minded pastors in their congregations and naturally, they are keen to do so. We are often called on to assist churches in finding the perfect pastor by forwarding our ‘A list’ candidates, which comprises the names of people who have indicated that they are available for a call and who hold to the doctrinal position we hold to as written up and agreed to in our Statement of Faith and our Baptist Principles.
Pastors Attend Fraternals
We then encourage the church appointed pastors and elders to attend the fraternal or regional group meeting in your area. We do so because we have found there is such a thing as unhealthy independence or what Syd Hudson-Reed refers to as “the tyranny of our autonomy” (1983:405). We have found that independence leads to isolation, isolation leads to sin and sin leads to personal and ecclesiastical failure. As a result, we push hard for every pastor and as many elders that can, to commit to the area fraternal, area fellowship or regional meeting.
Fraternals Appoint a Representative
In the BNA, we encourage every fraternal to appoint a fraternal or regional representative. This person then automatically joins the BNA Executive, subject to the ratification of this appointment by our churches at the next meeting of the churches of our assocation and subject to the space allocation in terms of number of seats per region. This means that, as an expression of our congregationalism, each representative is appointed by the pastors of the churches that appointed them. Our constitution makes provision for the BNA Executive to appoint a representative on behalf of the fraternal or region if they do not do so – obviously, this is not ideal.
In this way, the seats of the BNA Executive is automatically filled by leaders of leaders of churches from varying areas. This ensures that the Executive reflects the various cultures They, in turn, appoint a chairman, vice-chairman and any staff. Nominations go out for the positions of Treasurer and Secretary and these are agreed to at a BNA meeting.
The BNA Executive Appoints Three Representatives to the Baptist Union of Southern Africa National Executive
The BNA Executive currently appoints 3 positions (because of the number of churches in our area) to the Baptist Union Executive carrying with them the concerns of the churches and pastors of the association. This has worked well in the past, but may be changing imminently to make way for a new Baptist Union structure whereby only one seat is made available to each network of churches.
Our current system has a number of advantages;
- Congregationalism at every level is recognised, retained and enhanced.
- Fraternal / regional pastoral attendance is greatly encouraged.
- Uninvolved churches and pastors have no place to elect leaders beyond their own church.
- Fraternals/ regions become the hub of relational and co-operative ministry.
- Tested and recognised leaders ‘bubble-up’ through the ranks without jumping levels of involvement (e.g. no pastor can become the National Leader without first proving themselves at fraternal and associational level).
- Proportional, racial and regional representation is guaranteed.
- Dynamic building of each level takes place from the ‘Bottom Up.’
- The same structure can be duplicated for ministries /departments.
- Associations are ‘weightier’ being closer to the church and the Baptist Union ‘leaner’ being further away.
1983, S. Hudson Reed, “By Taking Heed: The History of Baptists in Southern Africa 1820-1977.” Roodepoort, Baptist Publishing House.