Thursday, 1 March 2012

from permission to intentionality?

I've been somewhat sidelined from blogging recently, but need to air one or two things, which I sense we need to grapple with more than appears to be the case.

I spent some time with the Eastern Baptist Association Ministers last week and really enjoyed my time among them - they're not so different to their Western counter-parts!  Much of the mealtime and coffee conversation revolved around the stuff I was talking about, although I tried to say too much in the first session, so suspect a lot was lost. However, one thing, I acme away from there thinking, is how much we need to move from simply permission giving to intentional empowerment.

'As Baptists, we don't need permission to do anything'. I've heard it, you've probably heard it. This may be true, but it has clearly been an issue for Anglicans. It has often been cited; one of the reasons Fresh Expressions has taken off, along with various other initiatives in their wake, is because of 'the permission of the Bishops'. The Baptist response is 'we don't need permission' and specifically in relation to FE 'we do these anyway'. So, my questions, at this point, are:

-  'If we don't need permission, why are we such conformist non-conformists?'
-  Are we actually experimenting (very much) with new patterns and forms anyway?

Last week, I was exploring Ephesians 4: 1-16. My take is this is, primarily, a 'local church' text. It's not usually sufficient for whoever the key leader is to simply say to the apostolic, prophetic, evangelistic types, 'you have my permission'. It either doesn't happen, or you get chaos! In other words, you still need leadership, but of a particular ilk.

However, as we await the unfolding thinking of the Futures Group, we need to be careful and ensure we also embed such leadership in every strata of whatever structures we go for. Simply, saying 'you have our permission' will not cut it. We do need intentional empowerment - of regional ministry and local ministry. This only happens if we're clear about direction and outcomes. This needs more leadership than management.

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