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Baptist Steering Group - May 2018

Baptist Steering Group met via group Skype for the second time.


Our second meeting held via Skype was a contrast to the last time we met this way when the ‘Beast from the East’ was in full flow! As before, we created an appropriate agenda that we felt would work this way. It meant we did not have the opportunity to reflect with local ministers.


Be ready for the surprises, catch the wind of the Spirit

Our new President Dave Gregory opened in prayer and reflection and invited us to explore John 3.8:
The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.
Dave has worked for the Met office and he explained how the wind causes weather forecasters headaches. More uncertainty doesn’t mean less accuracy, but sometimes a small change makes all the difference between a dry sunny day or a cool and overcast one. Relating that to our time together Dave said, “Little things that strike me – what is God doing in the small conversations, the impromptu, the unplanned?”. At our national meetings like BSG we are focusing and seeking the bigger picture and setting the environment. We need to remember the small, led by the Sprit interactions “Be ready for the surprises, catch the wind of the Spirit”.

Baptist Assembly
We spent time reviewing this year’s Baptist Assembly which was held in Peterborough on 12 May. In total 825 people came, including 60 Newly Accredited Ministers and a group of millennials. 315 churches were represented. Themes being drawn from the day include it being the best one-day Assembly, an appreciation of the multicultural worship and the seminar programme. In critical reflection, BSG noted small and large areas of concern and these will be fed into the larger review as we plan for 2019 in Telford. It was agreed at the last All Team Leaders meeting that we will use the agreed two-day format in a fresh and new way. The words ‘inspire, equip, connect’ were discerned as key to this new approach.

Vision Refresh

During Council (March 2018) four key themes were identified and affirmed for investment as we look to the future. These were agreed and have been shared with Assembly.
  • Pioneering & Planting
  • Equipping the local church for mission
  • Investing in Godly Leaders
  • Enabling Baptist Voices in the public square

During group discussion at Council several further themes emerged. They were all felt to be important, although there was reluctance to add them as additional theme(s).

  • Building and strengthening relationships in the Baptist Community and our interconnectivity.
  • Distinctive Baptist identity and DNA
  • Developing a culture of discipleship 

BSG were asked to further consider these additional themes, including the possibility of them forming a preamble to communication of the four main themes, i.e. are these separate themes or do they underpin the four identified themes?
Our discussion began to unpack what this might mean. Connectedness verses identity was seen as important. How do we become intentional in our connectivity? What’s outward facing? The basis of our union is the Declaration of Principle and yet most people that attend our churches know nothing about it. The conversation so far has not explicitly named our concern for justice – how is this to be incorporated? Then there is the question of how do we communicate all this and explain what we are? 
As can be seen we arrived at many more questions than answers and we need further prayer, reflection and conversation. It must also be remembered that this vision sits alongside the culture we are committed to developing:

 Five-year plan

We want to grow healthy churches in relationship for God’s Mission. In addition to our vision and culture we need to have good stewardship of our resources. BSG has been asked by the Trustees to consider whether the projected funding for our Regional Associations over the next five years is sufficient for them to function as needed. This will require clarification of what Associations need, for example in respect to ministerial formation, settlement, safeguarding and communications. It was suggested a small working group is formed to work through this activity to report back to BSG and Trustees at the joint meeting in September.
BUGB Trustees are also concerned about the slow growth in income projected. One idea being considered by BSG is whether we fund a role for a “Fundraising Enabler” to drive improvements in income.

Catching the wind of the Spirit

Dave Gregory, as our Accompanier reflected back that he had been encouraged with the depth of discussion. There is still a long journey ahead and we need to ensure we are catching the wind of the Spirit in all our conversations.
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.

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