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Baptist Steering Group - January 2017

Thank you for your prayers as we gathered to seek the Lord at the beginning of a New Year.  Steering Group gathered in the South East Baptist Association; in Reigate. We were delighted to welcome Adrian Argile to join BSG to represent the HEBA/EMBA Partnership following Dianne Tidball’s retirement.  It was also really good to welcome Richard Wilson, our new Support Services Team Leader.

The Steering Group met with ministers and leaders from SEBA and were, once again, hugely encouraged by their stories of transformation, growth, creativity and listening to the Lord; much of which is directly enabled by our giving to Baptist Together Home Mission.  We say that what we do as Baptists Together is pioneering and planting, equipping the local church, investing in Godly leaders and enabling a voice in the public square – these stories illustrate this brilliantly! 

We met with Cathy and Niall Burroughs (Secretary and Treasurer) from Aldershot Baptist Church and heard about how our support through Home Mission has enabled the church to thrive and make a difference in the community.

Neil Hilton (Good News Church, Brighton) told us about the journey from Moulscombe Baptist Church dying to the establishing of a new expression of worship and witness.  Neil and his family have moved onto the estate and, after taking time to simply listen to the Lord for their community, now have many opportunities to be a Beacon of Hope.  This church plant has only been possible with the financial support of Home mission through their Association church planting strategy. 

Finally, we heard from Ken Benjamin and Ellen Wild (Chichester Baptist Church) and how they have developed missional communities as a way to engage with people beyond the walls of the church.  We were particularly struck by their vision to run these missional communities on a Sunday morning and releasing their people once a month to be involved in mission in this way. Here are some of the highlights to inspire you as well!

When we met as All Team Leaders I shared that, in the light of all the amazing things that we see God doing up and down the country, I believed we needed to allow ourselves to be pruned by the Lord in order to enable the fruitfulness that He has for us (John 15:1-17).  I sense that we need to change as Baptists Together in order to face the significant challenges that lie before us and to enable us to be faithful to God’s mission.  Having reflected on what God had been saying to us through Scripture in recent years and having also reminded ourselves of the things that we have identified through various reports, I urged that these key areas be addressed:
  • Covenant – to articulate our covenant and inspire deeper covenant relationships across Baptists Together so that we can be “Growing healthy churches in relationship for God’s mission.”
  • Associating – to renew our commitment to continuing to build and develop mutually supportive relationships/clusters/networks as envisaged in the “Relating and Resourcing” report of 1998.  Effective associating is vital so that our churches can be equipped, inspired and supported in their worship and mission.
  • Strategic Mission – asking whether it would be helpful to identify a few strategic mission goals that could be owned by us as Baptists Together?
  • Ignite – the urgent need to implement the recommendations of this report and also to consider whether the report went far enough.
  • Simplification – how can we simplify our structures and governance to enable us to fulfil our vision for mission more effectively and with clear mutual accountability?
  • Sustainable finances – with Home Mission giving gradually decreasing the simple fact is that we cannot continue to fund the way we relate and work at the moment.  We need to develop a different approach and one that is financially sustainable.
  • The DB Pension Deficit – we need to tackle this whilst we keep our focus on our mission.
It was agreed that these were the right issues to be tackling and, whilst there were considerable questions about the best way forward on some of the issues, we sensed the urgency of getting to grips with these things for the sake of God’s mission.

Subsequently, Steering Group reviewed progress on the Ignite project and agreed plans to ensure implementation continues apace.

Lynn Green January 2017

The Revd Lynn Green is General Secretary of our Baptist Union

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