By Bill Webb
Nodell Dennis, newly elected president of the Southern Baptist Conference of Associational Directors of Missions, plans to do his part to help the organization become more effective.
Dennis, who serves Blue River-Kansas City Baptist Association, was elected by his peers during SBCADOM's annual meeting in Indianapolis June 12-13, prior to the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting.
"There are two things we've been talking about for four or five years," he said in an interview. "I plan to get it beyond the talking stage in my administration.
"I'm going to appoint a task force as soon as I get home...that will study the future of the SBCADOM and come up with a report next year on the direction we want this organization to go," Dennis said.
"We do agree, to some extent, that denominationalism is on its way out, or at least is suffering right now," he said. If there were no denominational entities, "the first thing churches would form would be just like 30 years ago - the association."
One of Dennis' goals is for the national organization to "become more self-sufficient and provide more services for directors of missions and their associations.
"We would like to really do an orientation, for example, where we actually train a DOM to do his job and have meetings throughout the year, perhaps, that deal with issues that help directors of missions," he explained.
"I don't think most directors of missions want to be looked at as just a delivery system for convention agencies," he said.
"We want to be seen as equal players on the field. I've tried to make my association the first line of help as far as the denomination is concerned. I tell them that if we can't help, we will find someone who can, either statewide or nationwide.
"DOMs need to have a good strong self-image about their work and their job, and they need to communicate that to their pastors and their churches. It's a constant job of communication."
A task force already is in place for planning the 2007 celebration of 300 years of associationalism among Baptists in America. The first Baptist association was organized in 1707 in Philadelphia. Dennis' organization said discussion has begun to incorporate the anniversary into the 2007 SBC annual meeting in San Antonio.
Dennis is a staunch defender of the need for and the importance of local associations.
"Too many people ask the question, 'What's the association do for us?' And I tell them, 'Tell me one place where Jesus ever asked, 'What's in this for me?' That's not what associationalism is all about.
"It's about missions. It's about stronger churches helping weaker churches," he said.
Before he became director of the Lee's Summit-based association nine years ago, Dennis spent 26 years as a full-time pastor.