From President Jeff Swart
BMAA National Meeting: A Means to An End?
The officers of your national association have been concerned about the dwindling representation of our churches at the national meeting for several years now. Charting the meetings over the last 17 years, the highest number of churches represented by messenger was 345 in 2002, in Joplin, Mo.; and the lowest number of churches represented by messenger was 204 in Jackson, Miss. in 2018. Concerning the number of attendees, the highest attendance was in Joplin in 2002, with 1,172 people present; and the lowest was in Arlington, Texas in 2017, with 369 people present.
Although we do not pretend to know the reasons why the majority of our churches are simply deciding not to attend the annual meeting, the department directors and officers of our association believe that if we offered our churches more reasons to attend the national meeting, our participation might actually increase.
I first remember discussing the restructuring of our national meeting at a Coordinating Council meeting in May 2015. We talked about making the annual meeting less about business and more about offering our churches resources to enhance their ministries. The department directors, and officers of our association believe the time is now to act upon that discussion and restructure our national meeting.
In previous years, the national association has actually been an end in itself. We have the meeting, go out to eat with friends, talk in the display room and all go home when the meeting is over until the next national meeting the following year. What we are suggesting is a radical new idea — let the national meeting become a means to an end. The “end” is the strengthening of the ministries of our local churches.
We are proposing that the national meeting become a ministry resource for our pastors, church leaders and churches sharing practical information that can be taken home and implemented into the ministry of the local church. Then, we return to the national meeting the next year and receive further equipping skills for ministry. We anticipate that the result will be healthier churches whose ministries are reaching more people than ever before. We are praying that the national meeting will become a resource for our churches instead of just a meeting where we conduct business.
We are planning two new features for this year’s national meeting — a BMA Town Hall Meeting and a Pastors Table Talk Forum. At the BMA Town Hall Meeting, our directors will cast their vision for the future of their departments and our association. Then, your input will be welcomed concerning what you have heard, and you will also have the opportunity to ask the directors any questions you might have. The DiscipleGuide trustees will also be in attendance to talk about the future of DiscipleGuide and explain how certain decisions have been reached.
At the Pastors Table Talk Forum, pastors will enter the room and be allowed to choose to sit at one of 20 different tables, each table discussing a different ministry related topic with other pastors. After 20 minutes, church leaders will have the opportunity to move to a different table to discuss a different ministry related topic. This will be an occasion when we will learn from one another. We anticipate this to be a very practical, helpful and popular session for church leaders.
Seven breakout sessions will be offered on Tuesday for all church leaders. The WMA changed the format of their meeting last year, and will do it again this year. They will conduct business on Monday afternoon, and Tuesday morning will be dedicated to a women’s conference for all ladies.
An altered format may also prove beneficial to our bivocational pastors. They may be able to attend only one day of the meeting, and if so, they could choose to attend the business session or several of the breakout sessions that are offered.
We are praying that our churches will view our national association in a new light. Instead of being merely a meeting where we conduct business, we would like to repurpose the BMA of America national meeting as a church conference where we do business.
Our prayer is that the BMA of America national meeting will become a means to an end — the national meeting is the “means” and the “end” is the edifying of the churches of the Lord Jesus Christ. We hope that you will agree and ask that you begin even now praying for your leaders and the upcoming meeting.
For the Registration Letter, click HERE!
For the Meeting Schedule, click HERE!
For the WMA Meeting Schedule, click HERE!
It’s Time to Make Your Reservations!
Reservation Information for the 2019 BMAA Meeting in Rogers, Ark.
By BMAA Committee on Arrangements
The 2019 session of the Baptist Missionary Association of America will meet May 6-8 at the Northwest Arkansas Convention Center in Rogers, Ark. The facilities and hotels are looking forward to our meeting there. Rogers’ accommodations offer plenty of space for all of our meetings and lodging.
We hope you will make your reservations early. Most of the hotels can make your reservations either by phone or online, but you must identify that you are with the Baptist Missionary Association of America.
The Embassy Suites Hotel, 3303 Pinnacle Hills Parkway, will serve as our headquarters hotel for the annual meeting in Rogers. The Embassy Suites adjoins the convention center to provide the easiest access to all of the association meetings and activities. Here is the contact information for the hotel:
- Embassy Suites Northwest Arkansas (Headquarters Hotel), 3303 Pinnacle Hills Parkway, Rogers — (Single/Double, $149 per night; Triple, $159.00; Quad, $169) (Standard Double or King room); (479) 254-8400; complimentary self-parking for all guests (valet parking is available); full breakfast included; reservation cutoff date is April 14.
In addition to the headquarters hotel, additional overflow facilities are available in the area. Following is a list of properties that have blocked rooms for the BMA meeting.
- Candlewood Suites, 4601 West Rozell, Rogers — (Studio suite, two full-size beds: $99); (479) 636-2783; reservation cutoff date is April 19.
- Country Inns & Suites, 4304 West Walnut, Rogers — (Standard two queen or one king suite: $129); (479) 633-0055; use Group Code 0505BMAOFA; reservation cutoff date is April 5.
- Hyatt Place, 4610 West Walnut, Rogers: ($116); 479-633-8555; reservation cutoff date is April 1.
- Fairfield Inn & Suites, 4611 Rozell Road, Rogers — (Single $99, Double/Double $99, Executive King $109); (479) 936-5900; use Group Code SMERF; reservation cutoff date is April 20.
- Hampton Inn, 4501 West Walnut, Rogers — (Double Queen $144); (479) 986-0500; reservation cutoff date is April 6.
- Aloft Rogers-Bentonville, 1103 S 52nd Street, Rogers — (King $119); (479) 268-6799; reservation cutoff date is April 5.
We need your help. Our roster shows that we have 1,260 churches who are affiliated with the BMAA. However, the representations in our Annual Meetings reflect the participation of only about half of them. We recognize that the association is the servant of the churches. Each church is autonomous and participation is voluntary. However, there are many benefits offered to the member churches. Below is a list of some of those benefits:
- Legal certification that the church is a registered member of a non-profit association, (the BMAA is a registered non-profit organization with the IRS.)
- Certification to assist if the church chooses to incorporate for legal or tax purposes.
- Gives the church a voice in the actions and decisions of the BMAA.
- Encourages and strengthens the voice in their stand on moral, political and doctrinal issues.
- Offers fellowship with other churches of “like faith.”
- Opportunity for involvement in fulfilling the great commission on a worldwide scale.
Please remit funds for meeting and minute expenses. All expenses for facilities, equipment and supplies for the annual meeting plus travel expenses for several committees and the printing of the yearbooks are paid from this fund. The total cost is $35,000-$40,000 each year. It is imperative that we increase contributions to this fund. Thanks to your response last year, we made it. However, our balance is dangerously low, so we still need extra help.
Pastors, you are our first line of communication with our churches. Your help will be deeply appreciated. If you have suggestions for helping us communicate with the churches, we invite your input. Please know that we are praying for you, and stand ready to serve in any way possible.
Even when attendance is not possible, the letter of registration affirms their membership. The registration letters need to be forwarded to: James Ray Raines: P.O. Box 17872, North Little Rock, Ark. 72117. For more information, call (501) 231-4204.