The institutional elements of Baptist life are under scrutiny as evidenced by blogs covering this week’s BUGB Council. Yet alongside some of the difficult stuff I want to point to some reasons for optimism.
1. The large number of people who are disappointed there wasn’t something more positive and pioneering means there are large numbers of people involved in grass roots Baptist life who want to be both.
2. The fact there is debate about what we should do is evidence that people care and are willing to invest energy in the future.
3. The rise of social networking among Baptists will increasingly mean sharing life outside the structures of the Union; real people collaborating and working together for the benefit of the kingdom.
4. Informal groupings are not subject to the same command, control and compromises which enables them to be more imaginative. If we could find ways of supporting initiatives and giving some the backing and encouragement needed to create start-ups who knows what might be birthed?
5. They may currently occupy roles within Baptist structures (Regional Ministers, College Tutors and Department Heads) but there many people within all areas of our Union who want local church life to flourish and seek to work as enablers not managers.
6. Alongside work done within local churches there are gifted people working outside the local church in evangelistic or mission focused activities. If we can find ways of standing with those who are working at the margins and those who are proclaiming the good news outside the city walls fresh life will emerge as has happened at previous points in our history.