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'We need to encourage each other, and recognise the ministries we have'


A report from the Baptists Together Mission Conference, by Liz Connelly 

Mission conference 1Alex Harris, the minister from hosts the Beacon Church in Stafford, introduced the day, setting the scene with Jesus’ words about the harvest being plentiful, but the workers being few. We do indeed need to ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest field.

Simon Goddard followed by introducing the keynote speaker Alan Hirsch as a significant missional thinker, looking at how we engage in the mission of God at this time. Alan is the founder of 100Movements, Forge Mission Training Network, and Future Travelers. He is known for this innovative approach to mission, and is widely considered to be a thought-leader and key mission strategist for churches across the western world.
Alan encouraged us to look at the Bible differently, to recapture the full weight of its message. We often face the challenge of singular controlling ideas. There are reductions in the way we see ministry - and we are very good at it. He reminded us of the fivefold ministry - Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Shepherds (Pastors) and Teachers - APEST. He pointed out that all of these aspects of ministry could be seen in Christ, and where present they represent the fullness of Christ in the church.

Looking at Ephesians 4, he alerted us to those to whom the message was addressed. This included slaves, women too: this was radical. It is for all of us.

Where are our churches in relation to each of these core aspects of ministry?
We were given a wide choice of seminars and could each attend three. I chose to attend those speakers who I had not heard before, and topics which I felt would most add to my future ministry.

Glimpses of what was said:

  • We have a hope for transformed communities. What are we willing to let go of to be beacons of hope?

  • People of faith didn’t just believe - they stepped out. We need to be risk takers, and be willing to try things that may not work and step out into the unknown, follow where God leads and see what happens

  • The love of God must go beyond the walls of the church

  • We all need to play our part in God’s missional adventure.

  • We need to encourage each other, and recognise the ministries we have

  • If we continue to seek God’s Kingdom, then God will do more than we can imagine

  • Stop doing things for people, do things with people

  • When you put yourself at the disposal of other people’s hospitality as Jesus did, you are putting yourself on their patch

  • We are called afresh in each generation to proclaim the message 


Other speakers at the event included:

  • Carolyn Skinner on Mission in Third Spaces

  • Kwame Adzam - Missional Leaders and Missional Congregations;

  • Ali Boulton - regional minister and pioneer practitioner, and Penny Marsh – regional minister and pioneer practitioner talking about stepping off the Map and engaging with new housing areas;

  • Carl Smethurst – regional minister South West Baptist Association talking about Millennials in a Changing World, and Changing Faith;

  • Alex Harris – minister of Beacon Church talked about The Beacon Story, and ‘learning why and how God has grown one church six fold in six years through catalysing new congregations across new communities.’

  • Ruth Rice – from Renew Wellbeing spoke about Mission and Mental Health

  • Roy Searle – Northern Pioneer Co-ordinator spoke about Pioneering

  • Simon Goddard – Baptists Together on the Fresh Expressions Partners Hub, shared about the work of Fresh Expressions,

  • Andy Glover – Fresh Streams team leader spoke about Exploring Missional Communities, and helping our churches to get out of their buildings;

  • Nigel Coles spoke about Small Groups for Missional Discipleship.

  • Yinka Oyekan spoke about The Turning, saying, 'The Turning is becoming a phenomenon….The fact that we are looking at the possibility of reaching over 3 million people across six nations in five years bears witness to the enduring power of the gospel.'


One of the great benefits of attending the conference was being able to meet with fellow Baptists from all over the country; to be inspired by the wealth and diversity of activity and projects that are taking place throughout the denomination and to hear those involved first hand.

I was also challenged about what may be relevant where we are, with the people we serve, and the people we hope to bring to Christ and encourage in their own walk and service. Not least, our own individual response and taking God’s Kingdom forward.

Liz Connelly's home church is Whetstone Baptist Church, and she is currently on a placement at Cross Hills Baptist Church while exploring ministry and studying the Equipped to Minister course at Spurgeon's College.


Other responses to the conference: 
  • "That was the best conference I have been to on the church and its mission, in years."
  • “An excellent conference. Please do it again!”
  • “Thank you for organising - we need more of this type of stimulation and challenge please!”
  • “Great conference. Really appreciated the time to chat to Alan Hirsch personally as well as the small group sessions.”
  • “This was a really great day - thoroughly biblically rooted, fresh application of APEST and practical insights into leading a local church forward in what it means to follow Jesus.”
  • “Well organised. Great array of options. Thank you.”
  • “I thought this was an exceptional conference, really good venue, Stafford an ideal location, really good content and value for money. I went to the Willow Creek Leadership summit last year but found this more engaging and helpful. Thank you!”
  • “A real blessing thank you.”
  • “Practical, refreshing and encouraging.”
  • “Thanks for a great, well organised day.”



Were you at the Mission Conference? Or do you have any thoughts following this report? Share in our letters' page. 

Baptist Times, 08/10/2018
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