So far it has been a great Assembly; the weather has been fantastic, the speakers good and the opportunities for meeting up with people plentiful. Yesterday I particularly enjoyed Jeff Lucas who was much better than I remember as a preacher (I know that sounds a bit pompous!)
Yet in the midst of this love-in I wonder, who is Assembly for? Who do we want to attend and why do we want them to? Is it a deliberative gathering of people, a celebration of Baptist life or a short ‘Bible week’ for Baptists? Our answer to this question affects the type of Assembly we create. For most of my own congregation, Baptist Assembly has no real link to them, nor do they express any great desire to go; this may reflect my inability to promote the event effectively but again raises the questions of what, why and who.
Personally, I want us to aim for excellence in Baptist life and worship; opportunities for deliberation together with space for prophetic and listening to the Spirit. I think Assembly should be an opportunity for a plurality of Baptist voices and a diverse programme, but I am aware if you want to do the ‘big celebration’ thing it helps to have a ‘well known’ name. I think Assembly should be an encouraging gathering but am aware that this can too easily gain a manipulated and premeditated feel.
Whatever my questions though, Assembly has improved in recent years, we are moving in the right direction and the questions are about fine-tuning not a complete overhaul. Let’s see what today brings, starting with my friend Lynn Green preaching at Communion.