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Baptist Steering Group - April 2018


This month, Baptist Steering Group (BSG) and All Team Leaders (ATLs) travelled to the Kairos Centre, Roehampton to meet in the London Baptist Association (LBA).

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Kairos is a retreat and conference centre, an urban oasis in south-west London. Being a tranquil, peaceful setting, it provided BSG the space to pray, space to think and time to meet.

God called forth a people, and we responded to His call

Beth Powney, Regional Minister Team Leader for the Eastern Baptist Association led worship and shared ‘Restoration Song’ by Gerry Tuohy. This was an appropriate reflection as we walk in our shared life together.
 
Restoration Song

God called forth a people, and we responded to His call
‘Rebuild this ancient ruin, restore my city walls.’

He has led us day by day, as we listened to His voice
and we were fed on finest wheat, and manna from the skies.

When we started, we were strangers. We hardly knew each other’s names.
Now we are brothers and sisters, and we will never be the same.

As we built, brick by brick, we discovered the corner stone,
and as we let Him mould and fashion us, He built us up in love.

Now we have seen, and we have heard, that the Lord our God is great.
For a wilderness has been transformed, into His holy place.

by Gerry Tuohy

 

Building brick by brick
 
As we reviewed our projects and priorities that sense of building brick by brick came through in our conversations.
 
Together with ATL’s we reflected on future plans for the Baptist Assembly beginning to consider how we could use the agreed two-day format in a fresh and new way. Our conversation was informed by our previous and current experience of ‘one day Assemblies’ and the survey which received over 1000 submissions in 2016.  The words ‘inspire, equip, connect’ were discerned as key to any new approach. 
 
Andy Hughes, Team Leader for Ministries explained how the marks of ministry will be discerned through ministerial recognition going forward. The formal process has been reviewed, re-organised and a new format agreed. Particularly important is a standard interview process across our Associations and this was welcomed by the regional teams.
 
Richard Wilson, Team Leader for our Support Services Specialist Team shared how much the team has been doing to develop our structure, finance and processes. This includes significant advice to our churches on the new General Data Protection Regulations, pensions and our move to becoming a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO). Further communications about pensions will be coming shortly and we will discuss our move to a CIO at Assembly on 12 May in Peterborough.
 
We heard that our Home Mission appeal is progressing positively this year and we are grateful for that giving, enabling us to grow healthy churches in relationship for God’s mission. Legacy giving was very high during 2017 and we have a new scheme for those interested in giving that way.
 
Much of this progress will be shared in our 2017 Annual report which will be ready for Assembly in May. It has been designed in a new way to be a very positive public facing celebration of the past year.
 
We heard about the positive developments in our Children, Youth and Families Round Table which is our national voice in this area of mission and ministry. Also, in our Baptists Together Mission Forum which reflects, discerns and provides mission grants. There is an emphasis on young leaders and how to support them; and in 2018, Mission Forum are investing in a listening project, a pioneer lab in Leeds and Seventy Two was supported in both Spring Harvest sites this year.

Small church is a big deal!

We met with Hilary Taylor, Small Church Enabler for the London Baptist Association. She has a passionate calling for smaller churches and shared her insights and reflections. Within the LBA, around a third of the churches have 40 members or less (the definition of a small church); and, nationally, this proportion increases to roughly 50%. The key to a small church fulfilling its calling is Kingdom thinking, ensuring they are open to change. When that happens, growth is possible, and a significant statistic shared is that across 8 out of 13 associations smaller churches proportionality have more baptisms than larger ones. Small is not failing as fewer numbers provides many positives as Hilary shared:
 
  • Family
  • Safe oasis
  • Flexible
  • Mentoring
  • Attractive 

There are also many challenges about leading smaller churches:
 
  • Morale
  • Money
  • Leadership 

Which translates as
 
  • Overheads
  • Needy people
  • Lack of musicians
  • Building issues 

Hilary To support the 112 small churches in the LBA, the Small Church Connexion (which was formed in 2003) has been running day conferences, celebrations, resources days, retreats, encouragement days and workshops. Nationally, this approach has been shared with small church networks in other Associations at annual gatherings  - convened by Hilary - over the past 4 years. As a result of this, initiatives are now taking root across the country.
 
Hilary concluded by saying working together is the key to progress for smaller churches.


You are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir

Marjorie Allan (The Well, Sheffield) was our Accompanier. She reflected on Galatians 4 and 5, reminding us of the freedom we have in but not beyond Christ. We need to be careful of going back to old ways, old religion and institutions, for now is a new day.
 
Majorie related this to Luke 5 when Jesus asked the disciples to trust him when he asked them to put the nets back in the water. An interruption from Jesus, when he gives a new instruction is what we must be ready for. It is then up to us to be obedient. If we listen and trust Jesus he can show new ways that challenge our professional opinion and ways. He is above and beyond what we dream and imagine. We have to put the net in the other side because there is a promise of fruitfulness.

This was echoed in a Syrian Orthodox prayer that Beth shared which asks God to ‘give light to our minds’ so that we may thank him.

Open your doors of mercy. Lord;
hear our prayer and have mercy upon our souls.
Lord of the morning and ruler of the seasons,
hear our prayer and have mercy upon our souls.
Shine on us, Lord, and make us light like the day; let your light shine in our minds
and drive away the shadows of error and night.
The creation is full of light,
give your light also to our hearts
that we may praise you all the day long.
The morning and evening praise you, Lord,
they bring you the prayers of your Church.
Light which gives light to all creatures,
give light to our minds that we may thank you. Lord


You were born to make manifest the glory of God

Beth drew our time to a close with these apt words from Teresa of Ávila.
 
Christ has no body now but yours.
No hands, no feet on earth but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world.
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good.
Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands,
yours are the feet,
yours are the eyes,
you are his body.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.
 
And to ensure we truly reflected on those words, these words by Marianne Williamson (often misattributed to Nelson Mandela) hang in the Kairos Centre:
 
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Stephen Keyworth, Faith and Society Team Leader
 
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.

 
Please share these messages with your church
 
 
 

 
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We were reminded today that meeting via Skype has its advantages!
It was good for some of our leaders to connect and spend time together at High Leigh this week in various combinations; the National Settlement Team, Regional Minister Team Leaders, the Baptist Steering Group with All Team Leaders and BUGB Trustees.
I’m pleased to be able to report that this has been a good Baptist Steering Group (BSG). Together with All Team Leaders (ATLs) we had time to pray and be together as well as make progress in a number of areas.
The BSG met by Skype on this occasion as we continue to make the most of technology in helping us to connect together
The Baptist Steering Group, together with All Team Leaders, met this time against a backdrop of uncertainty and concern.
Baptist Steering Group met by Skype, which always gives a different feel to this shorter format of meeting.
     Baptist Steering Group