Baptist Steering Group - June 2018
This month, Baptist Steering Group (BSG) and All Team Leaders (ATLs) were once again blessed by the hospitality of Windmill Farm Conference Centre, which feels a bit like ‘home base’ for us! Here are the key communications from our time together:
In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1.4-6
Philippians 1.1-11 spoke to us throughout our meetings, beginning when we shared communion together. We prayed that our love ‘may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight’, so that we ‘may be able to discern what is best’ (v9-10).
A new level of energy!
Together with ATL’s we continued our reflections on future plans for the Baptist Assembly
looking to discern how we could use the new two-day format in a fresh and creative way. The conversation has been informed by our previous and current experience of ‘one day Assemblies’ and the survey
which received over 1000 submissions in 2016. ‘Inspire, equip, connect’ are the words around which thoughts are forming.
We recognised that in one day assemblies the seminars and networking opportunities were particular highlights and with two days they can be given more space. We are working on our ideas and will continue a close conversation with BMS so that together we can deliver an outstanding event. A formation group is now going to take these ideas to the next stage and will include people from across Baptists Together.
Loaves and Fishes
Our vision is to grow healthy churches in relationship for God’s mission. Our structures and finance should therefore aim to create space for that to happen on the ground. Following the Loaves and Fishes report we have been made progress on a number of areas of our finances, but we are aware that we need to make more progress in exploring new ideas. We agreed to a scoping project around the key questions of how we progress and which ideas to pursue. This means we are looking for a Baptist fundraising consultant to support us in doing that. Can you help or know someone in your church? If so, please contact us.
One initiative that is now well underway is our Legacy pack
. All churches have now received them, and church members have the opportunity to have their wills written free of charge. The pack assists in the process of writing a will and emphasises the importance of doing so. There is also the invitation to include a bequest to your local church as well as Baptists Together.
From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded
At April’s BSG
we met with Hilary Taylor, Small Church Enabler for the London Baptist Association. This month we heard from Ken Benjamin, President Elect and core group member of the Larger Churches Network. He explained what the network is about and the ways they are prayerfully discerning how to serve the wider family.
Luke 12.48 has been a significant verse for the group:
From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.
Larger churches (defined as membership over 180) have got particular distinctives;
Particularly responsible. They have contact with more people.
Particularly vulnerable. It’s easier to be critical of the leadership both in and out of the church.
Particularly able. They have staff teams, large venues and a local voice.
Ken told the story of how of how those distinctives have shaped their journey so far.
The network started in November 2007 with a one day gathering at Baptist House. The blessing of that day was to be told what the larger churches do is significant, that they are valued by the wider family. From then they committed to gathering once a year.
Learning from each other is a very important part of the network. An honesty about what has or hasn’t worked (from building projects to house groups) has helped Ken and others avoid pitfalls and progress.
They are a network that supports each other. Some Ministers are only still in ministry because of group support. They are there for each other.
The network wants to serve Baptists Together more widely They are asking what does that look like? What will be a net gain? What have we got that is working and can be replicated across the Baptist family?
They are a group of ‘can do’ people and want to share what they have been given.
Don’t give instructions give intent
Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. John 5.19
Investing in Godly leaders is one of the key ways we will achieve our vision but recognise this is very challenging. At NST (National Settlement Team) earlier in the week the current issue of a shortage of ministers was apparent. We watched a video summary of the book Turn the Ship Around! By David Marquet. As a grass roots movement this is an inspiring approach to nurturing leaders.
His approach is Intent Based Leadership
. When Commander of the nuclear submarine Santa Fe, he realised during a simple drill, having one point of command was not only limiting to the efficiency of operations, it was also dangerous. He changed his approach and now gives authority where the information is. That creates the environment for thinking, gives control and creates leaders.
We recognise that this isn’t a simple fix for the leaders we need to raise, but what we can do is learn from this approach and create fertile environments for leadership. Our Ignite report
recognised there are a variety of foundation training courses for leaders. It recommended these should be more proactively affirmed and encouraged across Baptists Together, and as much as possible given a common identity. ATL agreed to move this recommendation forward.
There are further ways potential leaders can explore their calling. An example was shared by Adrian Argile from HEBA (Heart of England Baptist Association). Last year they held their first ‘Explore Call’ morning and are repeating it this year on Saturday 22 Sept at the IMC in Birmingham. They are asking churches to challenge their people about God’s call on their life. God is calling people into a variety of ministries and HEBA are offering an opportunity for people to explore this and discover something of what may be involved. You don’t have to belong to a HEBA church to attend so if you want further details
, please email Adrian at email@example.com
What good is the church?
We reflected on research The UK Church in Action, based on a Barna Global study sponsored by World Vision UK
. When it comes to measuring the social impact of Christian communities in their region or around the world, many adults in the United Kingdom draw a blank. Despite the huge social and community provision by churches, 81% of non-Christians don’t perceive churches making a difference. The research shows that the church has a significant image problem and it needs addressing.
One way we may address our image problem is by being open to the Missional God. The Missional Adventure Project shared at the June Mission Forum
could help achieve this. The aim of the project is to create a culture of hope and opportunity, which leads to individuals and churches anticipating fruitfulness in mission, seeking God for his direction, and then developing in discipleship as they journey together, experimenting and taking risks to the glory of God.
With these thoughts in mind we returned to our verses from Philippians.
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God.
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.
Please share these messages with your church