Baptist Steering Group - January 2018
Baptist Steering Group and All Team Leaders met at the Woodbrooke Conference Centre in Birmingham at the start of a new year.
Lynn opened our gathering by sharing what she felt that God was laying on her heart for our Baptist movement at this time. She felt that God was saying, “I will breathe fire over my church – Body of Christ, rise up!” and there was a sense that now was the time for that. This contributed to a sense of expectation, optimism and confidence that pervaded our time together. We were aware of God’s presence with us.
Our evening hearing about the fledgling Growing Churches Forum from Alex Harris was truly inspiring. We praise the Lord for the stories we heard of growing churches who are vibrant and sharing Jesus and His Kingdom in their communities. Through these stories we glimpsed God is on the move through this and we want to release and help resource their plans to share what they are learning regionally during 2018. This is a great opportunity for churches that want to change and grow to be inspired and equipped by their peers.
Each church that is part of the forum has experienced significant conversion growth – at least doubled in size within two years. There is no doubt that God is at work in a significant way and the group wanted to work out what the common characteristics were from their experiences to share with the wider Baptist family.
The common factors included:
An attractive presence – All had building work that required risk and sacrifice, so buildings were accessible, attractive and visible.
Of passion and prayer who wanted to see people coming to faith and being added to the church. They have a deep love and passion for their community.
Of vision and expectation. They act on the vision before it can ever be a reality and pursue it with conviction.
From non-traditional pathways. Many had not followed a traditional accredited route into ministry
Catalytic component. They were part of a team leadership with accountability. They were under authority.
Conscious and clear conviction about the bible and preaching – no reinvention, simple evangelism. Word and Spirit, incarnational. They preached Jesus from the Bible and lived that out actively.
They were small. Growth was not linked to abundant resources, but courage to use what they had. As they grew they pursued creative methods to catalyse and enable further growth. For example, The Beacon’s congregations must plant a new congregation before they reach 100 people.
You can read more about these unearthed factors here.
They have a plan for this year with a significant goal:
Pursuing Jesus to catalyse a significant shift in conversion growth in 40 churches in Baptists Together in 2018 and 80 in 2019 who attend these – measured as seeing twice the number of baptisms in the following 12 months as the previous five years.
They prayerfully hope this will happen through six regional conversations where churches can come and listen to the growing churches.
Alex said this is about preparing the Bride for Jesus, it is his church and yet we have our role to play, being the rock on which it is built (Matthew 16:18, Revelation 19:7-9).
Let us trust in the ‘one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all’. Ephesians 4:6.
All Team Leaders celebrated our progress against the priorities that we had discerned together back in 2015 . In the light of our progress and also mindful of the rapidly changing context that surrounds us, we began to prepare for enabling our Council and Assembly to discern afresh what our shared priority areas are for the next 3-5 years.
Baptist Together Mission Forum:
the Baptist Steering Group continued to work out practically what it means to offer oversight for this area of our life as Baptists Together. In doing so we were really encouraged to see and hear the breadth of mission that is happening and just how Baptists are being Beacons of Hope in so many amazing ways. We recognised that the Mission Forum reflects something of the strength and creativity we can release when we collaborate for the sake of the Kingdom.
As part of our desire to be adaptable and build in a capacity for on-going review and reform, All Team Leaders reflected on the original purpose of Association Partnerships, our differing experiences of them in practice and how we might move on, given where we are. We are planning to do further thinking arising from this at our November Council.
Historic Case Review:
As part of our commitment to integrity as leaders and excellence in safeguarding practice, Andy Hughes and Rachel Stone shared key insights and learning points from our Historic Case Review with All Team Leaders and commended the training and support that is available to them and all those who work with children, young people and adults at risk. We were delighted to hear that the new level 1 safeguarding training video was now available via the Baptist Together website.
The Lord’s Provision:
We praise God and are enormously thankful to each other for the generous giving of churches and individuals to Home Mission during 2017. Whilst humanly speaking we are facing many financial challenges, by God’s grace we were able to increase our Home Mission Giving by 1% on 2016! That, together with other streams of income, will mean that it is likely that we will break even for the year. Whilst this increase is lower than inflation, these small reminders of God’s provision encourage us to grow in faith that He will provide the resources for us fill His call.
In other news…
We worked on the agenda for Council in March, we approved the Terms of Reference for a collaborative group to look at a possible new approach to subscriptions and we had a lively discussion about how the compiling of the BUGB Report and Accounts for 2017 could provide a showcase for the gathering together of the Home Mission story so we can convey “the bigger picture”, whilst providing one mechanism of appropriate mutual accountability via Council.
Our times of prayer were led by Nigel Coles and woven around two brief passages from Proverbs; “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” (3:5-6) and “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” (4:23)
This was the last occasion that Rupert Lazar was going to be with us as he will no longer be part of the Accompanying Group in May. Rupert’s wisdom, insight, listening, prophetic words, encouragement and unfailing support have all been deeply appreciated and we shall miss him!
The Revd Lynn Green is General Secretary of our Baptist Union
The role of the Baptist Steering Group is to offer collaborative leadership in the management of the implementation of the broad strategic direction offered by Council.
The purpose and role of All Team Leaders (Regional, Specialist and College Principals) is to deepen relationships and to provide a regular space for sharing and listening as part of the consultation process that is so important in helping BSG to fulfil its own role.
 Priorities – a five-year plan
In 2015 a number of priorities were identified with a hope that within five years they would have been achieved. These were:
Our vision for Baptists Together is clearly embraced and understood and our renewed culture has become the norm.
We have established structures for relating that reflect our governance report and enable relationships of trust to flourish and mission to be enabled.
Please share this update with your church.
?We have a clear grasp of the health of our churches and what needs to be done to enable mission across Baptists Together.
To have implemented the Ministries Project recommendations (Ignite)
To navigate the issues of human sexuality and find a settled place.
To implement the Loaves and Fishes project to identify new income streams.
To ensure that a strategy is developed and implemented to stabilise the Pension Schemes.
To complete and implement the review of our Safeguarding.
To develop the database
To develop a communications strategy.