I'm not sure if this is indulgence on my part but one final blog about the Baptist Assembly; largely because I spent some of yesterday pondering what impact Assembly might have on local church life here. I've not worked this through but here are some starter thoughts:
Mission: BMS drew attention to the drop off in numbers of people offering for long term service. Notwithstanding Craig's point about language I wonder if we make too little of the call to long-term service. I'm wholly committed to helping people live as whole life disciples but in doing so have I let people avoid the call of God on their lives?
Who do we think we are: Our preaching theme this term has this as the title, it is a series based in Ephesians though the title and our sermon graphics owe something to the BBC as we seek to reflect on what it means to be in Christ and to be part of his body. Maybe we also ought to give some space to including items about baptist history and baptist distinctives? If anyone wants to know what we do you can check the church website and podcast the sermons.
Worship: It's all very well me writing about worship at the assembly but what about in the local church? I think we have made some progress in many of the areas I've highlighted but it is a challenge to keep seeking to do our best in response to God. It is also a challenge simply because resources are limited. Nevertheless I return with a renewed sense that we need to think creatively about how we use our church worship gatherings.
Home Mission: I hear the calls for more giving to Home Mission but at the same time recognise the financial constraints of local church life. Yet there is more to this than finance. As a church we are involved in other ways, we help other local baptist churches with preachers and worship leaders, we try to support some baptist mission initiatives in Manchester and the church releases me to be involved in Union life. But I wonder how much the church here sees itself as being part of a network of churches who are in a covenant relationship with each other? Being a baptist church is not simply a flag of convenience it is part of who we are; so how do we make it a meaningful part of our corporate life?
Questions rather than answers. But questions that suggest this year's assembly might have been more than a weekend by the sea.