This years Baptist Assembly is now underway. The annual showcase of Baptist life in England is up and running in Blackpool with ‘Your Kingdom Come’ as its theme.
One question posed on the opening night was ‘what is God saying’? Perhaps the answer lies in the question: where are we going as a Union? What does the future hold for us? Can we articulate an image of the sort of people God wants us to be in the years ahead?
The Union’s strap line is ‘Encouraging Missionary Disciples’ the difficulty with this is that the Union is a network of churches not individual disciples so it isn’t easy to impact them (anyway are there any disciples who are not missionary?). The solution is to sidestep this with a focus on encouraging; suggesting that the role of the Union was to be the national encourager of Baptist life: reminding people that discipleship is a corporate walk and we need to be in this together.
My take on the question of vision? The future health of the Union depends on the quality of character that we develop rather than the programmes we run. In our ability to resource churches and individuals to live for Christ wherever they are and our aptitude in describing the journey ahead so people can walk humbly, reverently and with justice before God yet confidently, compassionately and with conviction before the world.
As Pat Took reminded us on the opening evening the gospel is good news when it results in reconciled relationships lived out in justice.