The Dallas Baptist Association offers advice
Meet The Need partner, the Dallas Baptist Association (DBA), focuses on leadership development, evangelism, church planting, and family and community ministry. Founded in 1903, DBA now serves over 500 churches and ministries throughout the Greater Dallas area.
As we approach the holiday season, I talked with Jana Jackson, Director of Family and Community Ministries, to gather insight and ideas about using the Holiday season as a catalyst for ministry partnerships throughout the calendar year.
How can ministries and churches use the upcoming Holiday season as a spring board for ongoing collaboration and ministry impact?
The holidays provide a wonderful opportunity to connect with others in your city because everyone is more motivated. Both churches and ministries are hosting events and serving families. There is an incredible opportunity to build relationships that will last into the coming months if you are strategic about it.
A few years ago a wealthier suburban church in the Dallas area got connected with a church in a high-poverty urban community during the holiday season. Both pastors took this as an opportunity to learn from each other and build a true partnership that is growing stronger by the day. Both congregations recognized that they needed each other. The value of cross-cultural friendships, Christian community development and the personal growth among church members can’t be measured. Both churches seized the few months surrounding Thanksgiving and Christmas as an opportunity to build a deep ministry partnership and personal friendship.
I also want to emphasize that we need to be prayerful about how our Holiday ministry is designed so that the dignity of families can be honored and the Gospel shared. Two good books to read regarding this are When Helping Hurts, by Brian Fikkert and Steve Corbett, and Toxic Charity by Robert Lupton.
What has DBA found to be the ‘key’ to maintaining momentum amongst member churches throughout the calendar year?
We rely heavily on prayer. We have been convicted, even recently, that we need to pray first, wait with an attitude of discernment, and then move. Unfortunately, so often things seem to move in the opposite direction—we get a ‘great idea’ and ask God to bless us.
As a DBA staff we seek to respond to how God is leading us to serve our churches. We pray for our churches at the beginning of every work day. We also pray Luke 10:2 as a staff frequently, and we’ve seen God answer that prayer by sending workers into the harvest field.
An attitude of prayerful response to the Lord’s leadership brings much more “momentum” than if we as an organization are trying to push our own agenda and simply hope that the Lord will bless it, and the churches will support it.
That said, we also make every effort to maintain regular communication via personal conversations, on-site visits to our churches, email, and social media. Also, keeping the website, including the service opportunities on our Meet the Need “CityServe” site, fresh, is helpful.
If you could recommend one critical communication strategy to unite and inform churches and ministries in the Association (and other organizations like yours throughout the US)—what would it be?
Know your God-given mission—everything you do should fit your mission. Our mission statement at DBA is: “Dallas Baptist Association exists to assist our churches individually and cooperatively in fulfilling the Great Commission of making disciples of all nations.” We serve our churches as they fulfill the Great Commission, and that’s what unites us. And, we do our best to remind ourselves and our member churches of this whenever we can. It keeps us all focused!
Related to this, it is crucial that all of our staff work as a team to accomplish our mission. Our executive director, Bob Dean, does a phenomenal job of leading us as a team. When our churches take note of this, and they have, it inspires confidence that we really can do more by working together as an association.
In order to inform our churches about what’s happening within the context of that mission, we use every communication method available to us. Some of our pastors and church leaders really enjoy our Facebook page. We hire a social media consultant from time to time to keep us on track with latest trends and best-practice.
Additionally, we consistently get about 30-40 percent “opens” on our weekly e-newsletter, which is higher than the industry average. Some people want to find everything they need on our website. Others simply want to pick up the phone and call one of our staff when they want to know something.
As you build ministry partnerships with others throughout your community in the coming months, we hope you’ll find Jana’s insights encouraging. Keep pressing on toward unity and collaboration in all you do. If you’d like to learn more, visit DBA’s website, email Jana, subscribe to Jana’s blog, or contact us.