Baptist Futures survey

As part of the conversation BUGB is having about the future their website has a survey that anyone involved in Baptist life is invited to complete. SurveyMonkey questionnaires are of course only part of the solution, the danger sometimes is that they make a monkey out of survey results; by forcing you to make choices based on the questions asked rather than the values and assumptions behind them.

Nevertheless if you haven’t done the survey can I encourage you to do so here. And as you do think what aspects of the current Union and Association set up could we live without and which parts are essential. If you or your church were paying directly for the services, what would you do without? If we separated out giving towards the cost of Union and Associations from Home Mission Grants to churches what proportion of your current giving would you give to each?

And what if we scrapped the lot and started again, perhaps encouraging larger churches to take responsibility for wider Baptist life in their areas; developing low cost advice provision for churches; funding 30 people who had regional & national co-ordination responsibilities and conducting much of our national life through working groups accountable to a Council? (I recognise this isn’t without cost, not least to the people who are currently employed and am not proposing we do it, simply suggesting options).

As always comments welcome.

8 thoughts on “Baptist Futures survey

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  1. 2nd attempt!
    I agree about working groups relating direct to Council as long as they can remain open groups and not restricted to Council members – wider consultation. Also hopefully strengthen Council role which I feel has been weakened in recent times. Deeper/wider consultation and transparency.
    Problems:
    1. Define large – we have two 500/600 + churches, one 300+ and 13 200+
    2. Geography
    None near this area., most 2-3 hours away – how do they give support, enable, give personnel etc?
    3. Most help is given through relationship and rarely through autism – if it were smaller churches wouldn’t need to ask. ( I know your church does)
    4.Ecclesiology/theology – risk of larger imposing on smaller
    5. Take responsibility: oversee? impose? paternalistic? Who decides what help/support given – smaller or larger?
    6.How does a region of small churches do this?
    7. Risk of ‘we’re better’/ more successful than you feeling – felt by smaller if not by larger!
    8.This is not ‘together as equals’

    Not deeply thought out – just gut reactions!

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  2. I’m wary of empowering larger churches … I’d rather see them support associations – esp. financially and so making associations more viable … problem in too many areas is larger churches don’t engage in association or even local clusters …

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  3. I agree with Andy.
    Rarely, if ever, in my experience (except when speaking – sharing their sucess!) do ministers/people from large churches attend ministers conferences or Association meetings.
    Also large churches are often the reason other churches are declining – because they ‘have it all’ people change church rather than staying and ensuring local church remains possible. I have am tired of all the people who say we don’t come to your church ( I have heard this in three different towns!) because you don’t have enough children/a band/ youth work etc etc. Well if all of you came to us instead of driving past to the ‘large church ‘ we would have all of those things!

    Rant over!

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  4. I entirely understand the issues of power, success and paternalism in the relationship between larger and smaller. Nevertheless I want to argue that it doesn’t have to be this way; not least because all these negatives imply that we are somehow in competition and that larger = better. One of the things I caught a glimpse of in Iquitos, Peru, was of churches working together; where the larger churches see part of their responsibility being to stand with smaller churches. The context in Iquitos is very different (and it is not all good) but I think there are lessons we can learn from overseas which would help us here.

    As BUGB considers the way forward we need to think outside the box otherwise there are three solutions:
    1. Dramatically cut the central resource to balance the books removing the majority of the advice & support provided and significantly reducing our capacity for national representation. (Do we want to be a national union or a federation of likeminded churches?)
    2. Reduce Association funding so that the only the richest Associations can afford paid staff.(which would hit the smaller churches hardest)
    3. Compell churches to give significantly more to Home Mission.(flogging a dead horse is the analogy which comes to mind).

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  5. Please can you put flesh on how it actually works in Peru and how in practical terms you see it working here in a very different cultural and historical context.
    Also define ‘larger’ church.
    Sadly my experience is that larger churches – which for me has meant anything over 100 has not been positive. One church had two bands but would not help us run a monthly all age until I made friendships with some people and they decided to help and told church that is what were doing. I over heard a minister saying he had 7 worship bands, another local minister commented that they just had him and a guitar and nothing when he wasn’t there – no offer came to help!

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  6. I’m reluctant to be too specific about Iquitos, because I’ve not spent enough time there to really understand what is going on but perhaps the sense of being a long way from anywhere else means they feel cut off from other Baptists and the Convention; in my meetings with the church pastors there appeared to be a greater sense of being together in mission, co-operating not competing. A sort of, no one is going to come and sort it out for us so we need to get on with it ourselves.

    Defining larger is a dangerous thing but so often in UK church life we are worried about what we don’t have enough of rather than what we can share with others. I suspect this is a mindset which affects churches of all sizes.

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