So March Council is now over; but what to say? Hopefully there will be a brief on line account of the material the ‘Futures Group’ shared in the next 24 hours (if not I’ll have a go at summarising). [Futures update gives the background here but not the suggested ways forward]
Good: Overall it feels like we are making progress – slowly. Yesterday we talked about the values which underpin the process and some possible ways forward. It was a bit presentation heavy with too little time for detailed interaction and a sense we were being ‘sold’ a particular line. However, by the end enough alternative voices were heard to engage people. The result of this is to slim down the options the Futures Group need to work on, in order to create the detail for decisions to be made. One option is like my blog before Council, the other coming from the Futures Group (and therefore the front runner) uses a more regional approach and an approach which maintains a larger central resource. I think it would be great if this is written up quickly as a pdf and widely distributed so loads of people could comment, question and offer their insights before Council meets in June to take decisions.
Confusing: The real issues facing BUGB are not primarily about process but about the Essence of Baptist life (who we are in God), Culture (how we do things round here) and Kingdom (sharing in the life of God, joining in mission). These things were talked about but it isn’t clear to me where this is heading, nor that we are really engaging with this properly. The danger for the Union is we could create a patch to solve the problem, but not address the basic programming faults which get us here. It feels like walking though fog, where without clarity of thought and vision to help us, the only tools available are political.
Agonising: For all the difficulties people are trying to do their best. One harsh reality in this is that some people will be made redundant; its just not clear who. But as people share hopes and ideas for the future some of those would loose their jobs as a result are listening in. (Encouraging Council to close a department of the Union or half the number of Association Team Leaders has a different edge when those people are present). In practice, if we are to have honest, open conversations things need to be said; if we are to persuade and enthuse things need to be said with a certain directness. But the downside is that some people’s livelihoods, self esteem and faithful contributions are being salami sliced away in public.
I’m sure there is more to be said but I now have a busy few days before I go to Peru at the weekend.