I thought I'd pop down a few thoughts regarding the BU Assembly in Plymouth over the weekend. I didn't think I'd bother (not sure RM's are supposed to comment), but having read the blog list sent from Baptist House, I thought I might pitch in on one or two things:
It seems I'm not the only one who thought Anne Wilkinson Hayes was the most insightful and incisive preacher (and best exposition) we had. I may be biased as we were at Spurgeon's together long back.
I thought there were many good moments and much to be an encouragement, so the following really needs to be read in that light. I'm also conscious, because I happen to be a Regional Minister i'm regarded as part of the establishment, but you may not have noticed, unless you're an RM, but the associations barely feature and yet we represent one of the fundamental structures within Baptist life.
- as I say, there were many good things about it and I'm still reading reflections around the theme of 'you should have gone twenty years ago and see the change.' I am one of those who's said that (and probably will again), but what are we saying? Are we lulling ourselves into a false sense of security rather like the churches I encounter who changed, often as a result of the influences of charismatic renewal in the 80's & early 90's, and now think they've been 'renewed' sufficiently?
- I love being part of the Baptist 'family', but this is not the only word and, in view of the theme this year 'One World, One Mission' I would suggest does not help the cause. My conviction remains we were designed to be a movement of Churches and, at the risk of using a word which seems to be being used rather too loosely at present, 'movement' is what we need to be about if we're to regain any missionary impetus. Family is about coming together, unity, loyalty to an institution. Movement is about being sent, diversity, loyalty to values and vision.
- I agree with something said elsewhere. Some more recognition that we part of something much bigger - mission is not simply what 'Baptists' 'do' - would have been a bigger framework in which to explore.
- to what extent would some of the criticisms, which seem as far as I can see, be largely based on 'I liked, didn't like', change if we looked at our own local churches through the same lens? Wherever you have 2 or 3 Baptists you have 4 or 5 opinions. If this is what it boils down to, I'm not sure we know what today's Assembly is for, but I am sure it's not really intended to be simply a larger church gathering where we do the same stuff, but with better technology, etc.