BUGB Council meets again. 400 years after the first Baptist church in England we are starkly reminded that our faith should not be placed in institutions, our treasure should not be in investments and our confidence should not be in numbers. As we recall Jesus walking purposefully to Jerusalem we are reminded that he invited the crowds to pick up their cross and follow him; with all the risks and uncertainties that entailed.
Many of us have blogged and commented on the future. Some of us have some ideas about the principles we need and the decisions which flow from them. But before we launch into this week let's pause and consider:
- The Council at Jerusalem in Acts 15 has many things to say to us about leadership and congregational discernment but at the end of a process that included contention and ‘much discussion’, they were able to say ‘it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us’. Seeking God doesn’t mean we avoid the hard work of discussing and discerning but does mean we do so in an attitude of prayer, not prosecuting our own agenda but listening out for God’s.
- The Apostle Paul’s handling of difficult issues in church life seems to have had three elements. First, he didn’t duck them but was forensic in arguments; second, he encouraged people to model maturity and conduct themselves in a manner worthy of Christ; third, he encouraged people not to think too highly of themselves but to be people of love and humility.
Those of us who have been involved in Union life need to be open about our own failings. Not to beat each other up, but in recognition of our fallenness before God. Looking back over recent years there are things I should have said and done differently. My own timidity, lack of clarity and conviction alongside ambition and desire for involvement make me complicit in situation we are in; for which I can only apologise.
None of us sees with perfect clarity and no one has the perfect strategy because we are fallible. Recognising this, and our dependence on God, is vital to our moving forward together.