The Baptist Steering Group - July 2015
General Secretary Lynn Green shares key messages from the July gathering of the Baptist Steering Group
I am very conscious that my original aim with these key communications was to be brief – something I am constantly encouraging in others! But as I reflect on our meeting of BSG this week there is just so much that I want to convey to you; not so much about what we did, but the way in which we did it.
So, if you need brief, please skim the headlines in bold, but if you have time to read more I would love to share with you about what God has been doing through our time together.
Call to prayer
When we last met Lynn shared the call to prayer that she had sensed from the Lord and we weighed that together. That has resulted in the Beacons of Prayer call to prayer (www.baptist.org.uk/beacons) and also challenged us to work and relate together as BSG even more deeply through prayer and waiting on the Lord. This has worked itself out in many different ways as we met this time…
Andy and Sue Glover from Hoole Baptist Church and Fresh Streams joined us to help us reflect on how we might make more space for the prophetic when we gather as Baptists Together. They shared with us some of the things they had learned as church and leaders along the way. But we didn’t just talk about the prophetic, we also had a go!
In the evening we met with some ministers from the Heart of England Baptist Association; they shared and then together we prayed for them, their churches and communities and our mission as Baptists Together
The small version of Chris Duffett’s brilliant Beacons of Prayer painting (above) was brought to the meeting and this provided a visual focus for our prayer and reflection throughout the meeting
We also used 13 of the stories that churches and leaders have shared through email in response to Beacons of Prayer and took one each to inspire our prayer and our seeking of the Lord together. We also prayed for those people and places.
We put into practice one of Andy and Sue’s ideas from their Church Meetings and gathered in smaller groups to prayerfully wait on God about a particular issue and used two questions to help us hear and receive wisdom from the Lord. nterestingly, we did not reach a consensus but found ourselves equally led between two options! So we are holding this and will continue to seek the Lord and will welcome the wider input from our Council to help us discern how God might be leading us.
There were times when we just were silent together and made space for God to speak to us and Rupert Lazar (East Barnet BC and Baptists Together Vice President), who was our accompanier for this meeting, encouraged us to develop more of an openness in our gatherings for the Lord to bring us issues that are not on our agenda!
We received the final report for Loaves and Fishes and also an update from Ignite and of the things that we were reflecting on, three key threads seemed to run through our discussions!
Covenant community – what does it mean to be in covenant relationship with each other in Baptists Together and how does this vision shape our relationships, leadership, finances, identity and so much more. Some verses that became key for us were Ephesiains 4:15&16. Sue Glover also shared with us the quote about focussing on, “…affirming what someone is rather than stumbling over what they are not…” and this seemed particularly relevant to us and our renewed culture as Baptists Together
Leadership – the ministers who shared with us from HEBA were all in fairly urban contexts but we were really struck by the uniqueness of each leader and their context. In different ways the gifts and passions of these leaders was being worked out and lives and communities are being transformed. We were struck yet again, by the quality of these leaders, their availability to God and their connectedness to their communities. It was also interesting that they represented different lengths of ministry – 2, 7 and 22 years! Whilst only one of the churches is financially supported by Baptist Together at the moment, we saw how our network was resourcing and encouraging each leader and church to be faithful to God’s call in the place where God had placed them. Thinking about ministries and leadership from the bigger perspective we recognised that we needed to have a bi-focal approach! Up close we need to focus on improving the way we do stuff now, but we must also address the big picture and look at how we release and support all sorts of ministries for the future.
Communications – at almost every turn we found ourselves with a story to share that could inspire and encourage us as Baptists Together! We recognised that we drastically reduced our capacity to co-ordinate our communications through the Futures process and we need to continue to work on how we can develop communications that support and reaffirm our sense of being covenanted together in mission and also release the resources we need to do this.
It was great to welcome Alex Afriyie (LBA) back onto BSG and this helped me to see what a good sense of team that we have together. There was lots of laughter, 2 birthday cakes (!), a team challenge involving marshmallows and kebab skewers, and lots of sharing and critiquing that helped us to see things even more clearly. People were bringing their different gifts and that really enriched our gathering and discernment.
We so value you praying with us as we seek to offer leadership with Baptist Together. There are three particular prayer points:
That together we would have clear discernment where we currently lack that
For the appointment of key leaders that are coming up – Team Leader for Support Services and 3 Regional Team Leaders.
Churches and Associations are being invited to begin to pray about nominations for the Baptists Together President for 2017!
The Revd Lynn Green is General Secretary of our Baptist Union