Monday, January 21, 2019
Leadership, Service, Missions
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Mission Dignity


Dear Friends,

I believe the purpose of an Association is to serve Christ by serving congregations. One of my objectives is to build on the work of my predecessors by organizing the Association’s resources, staff, and services around helping each local church achieve excellence in ministry. I will gauge the success of our ministry together as we see the kingdom of God advancing in every congregation. An association which cannot serve all the congregations gives up the right to serve any congregation. However, since every church is unique the Association cannot serve all churches in the same way.

Since announcing my call to Shelby Baptist Association, some people have asked the question, “Just want is an association?” Here is a definition I like. An association is a diverse group of congregations on mission together to meet the spiritual and where possible the physical needs around them.  I feel called to help churches become or remain healthy so they can reach their full kingdom potential. The starting point for this objective is working with pastors to help them be spiritually strengthened and encouraged to lead their congregations toward congregational health and balance.

A Baptist associational Director of Missions is not like a bishop in the Methodist Church. Each Baptist congregation is autonomous, and I will work within the bounds of that distinctiveness. The only authority that an associational Director of Missions has is that which is granted to him by individual churches. Therefore, I must ask you to invite me to assist when and where needed. I have been trained or have experience in the following areas: church consulting, congregational coaching, conflict intervention, deacon training or retreats, marriage enrichment events, committee training (including the critical nominating process and functioning of the pastor search committee), ventriloquism, pulpit supply, staff relationship building, world religion and cult training, evangelism training, prayer partner training, and greeter ministry training. My desire is to be available to help you in any way that I am equipped to help, so call on me when you need my ministry.

Over the course of the next few months, I want to establish a relationship with every minister in the Association. I have developed a systematic plan where I can be in every church either on Sunday morning, Sunday night or Wednesday night. On many of the initial visits my wife, Wanda, will accompany me. These visits are for the purpose of getting better acquainted and learning how I can pray for each church specifically.

There are opportunities for you to participate in a series of “Listening Sessions” during this month (see the schedule elsewhere in the newsletter). Please attend these events, and let me hear from you about your Association. From these meetings we will begin to develop steps to advance toward a vision for our journey together. I look forward to seeing you in these meetings.

Because He lives,
Brother Steve


Shelby Baptist Association Calls New Director                                                                     

The Shelby Baptist Association consists of 28 churches located in Shelby and Spencer counties.  On September 17,  the Association met for their Annual Meeting at Mt. Moriah Baptist Church. The meeting celebrated the work of God among the churches. Among the business items presented to the messengers (delegates) was a motion from the DOM Search Team to extend a call to the Reverend Dr. D. Steven Gouge to serve as the Associational Director of Missions. The recommendation was approved and Dr. Gouge began his work on October 1.

Dr. Gouge grew up in North Carolina and made a commitment to Jesus Christ as an eight-year-old boy. He and his wife, Wanda, have two adult daughters, Mandy Howie of Taylorsville, and Aime Nance of Lawrenceburg. They also have six grandchildren.

Brother Steve graduated from Western Carolina University. He earned a BS degree with a double major in psychology and social science. He received two master’s degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and was awarded the Doctor of Ministry degree from Sothern Baptist Theological Seminary.

He has served as a pastor in Texas, South Carolina, Tennessee, and North Carolina. In 2010 he was called to serve the Brushy Mountain Baptist Association in Wilkesboro, North Carolina as their Director of Missions. While serving in this capacity, he led the 40-church association in a visioning process resulting in a clear understanding of its purpose. He helped the association transition from a committee-driven organization to a team structure. Brother Steve supervised the operation of the Association’s H.O.P.E , which is a ministry that meets food and financial needs, while presenting the gospel.  He also coached pastors, conducted training events, trained pastor search teams, assisted with conflict management, and guided churches to help improve their spiritual health.

Steve’s wife, Wanda, is a graduate of Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, NC with an Associate’s degree in Sign Language Interpreting for the hearing impaired. She has worked as an educational interpreter, church ministry interpreter, and has also worked as a church administrative assistant.

When asked the question, ‘just what is an association of Baptist’” Brother  Steve replied, “I like this definition. An association is a diverse group of congregations on mission together to meet the spiritual and where possible the physical needs around them. I look forward to working with our churches to fulfill this definition.”


The Shelby Baptist Association welcomes the Gouge’s, and we are eager for the community to get to know them.