I’m gradually getting into the swing of things after a post Christmas break but before I get completely overwhelmed by my ‘to do’ list a couple of thoughts about why the year ahead may prove to be a good year for BUGB.
Mind the gaps: Looking afresh at what we do creates some pain and difficulty. But, if the current consultations reduce the gap between local churches and wider structures this will be a good thing. Associations and Union grow out of the need to relate and work together, a mutuality that can be lost in the institutionalisation of Baptist life. The fresh impetus to relate together as ministers, local church and wider church should bring us closer together; something that can only be good.
Let go: Our union is more than the institution it is the people and churches who make it up. As we try to retrain ourselves away from centralising tendencies and control based governance we can develop new models of empowerment and expression. Some of it will be messy, some will go wrong, some of it will push the boundaries but mission isn’t about doing what we have always done, engaging with fantastic programmes, or learning the latest technique it is about joining with the fresh, creative and surprising things God is doing.
Brave new world: The model of Victorian societies with secretary, treasurer, chairman and members is a thing of the past; though elements linger on in the way we organise local churches. The C20th free church model with its centralised structures, public profile and desire for political influence is on the wane though it characterises much of the way our denomination is structured. The later ‘Blairite’ modernising with its sofa style of decision making, ‘we know best’ intervention, focus on presentation and impression rather than substance and policy has trapped us into patterns of thinking and processing which lack clarity, detail and ownership. The challenge for us is to learn lessons from our history, reflect on the things we value and consider how our theology can shape our ethos, structure and activity.
The next few months may not be easy but they have creative potential and give us the opportunity to change in positive ways for the years to come.
If you haven’t yet contributed to the BUGB consultation you can do the survey here.