The new style BUGB Council meets for the first time today; one of a number of small steps in changing the Union as a result of the ‘Futures’ process. I’m not part of this so have no idea what’s going on, and I suspect that the change of format will mean fewer social media updates so we will have to wait till the ‘official’ reports are out.
Coincidently there was a letter this week from the Union pointing out that Home Mission giving is currently over £100,000 less than the previous year. This is no great surprise but illustrates why governance is going to be tricky for the next few years.
No great surprise – for several reasons.
1. The Union’s income often lags the wider economy. So immediately after the crash, income held up but now is slowing down. Although the economy may start to pick up that has a long way to go before it feeds through into giving; many churches are finding income tight.
2. The long-term trends for Home Mission suggest modest increases at best. I still think we need to take another 20% out of the Union’s running costs over the next five years.
3. So much of the Union’s income arrives in the final few weeks of the year that guessing the final outcome in mid November is about as reliable as guessing the winner of the 2:30 at Doncaster tomorrow.
A challenge nonetheless:
The restructuring process encourages local working together. One outcome of this will be churches using money to work together rather than sending it to ‘Home Mission’; why send it away when you can further the kingdom and the Baptist movement by using it together locally. I met a church earlier in the week where they had taken on a minister in training partly because they saw it as a way they could invest in the future of the Union’s ministry. Now if churches do that rather than give the money to Home Mission (which wasn’t the case in this example) more good things will be done but Home Mission might continue to go down.
Restructuring may also encourage churches to look at giving directly to Baptist Mission work in the UK – for example in supporting pioneer initiatives; a move that might accelerate a more radical review of Home Mission if the proportion of Home Mission money used by regional or national structures increases.
Sometimes leadership is like driving through fog, the lights might be on but no matter how hard you look, you still can’t see where you are going. The danger is you stop focusing on what’s ahead and just look immediately in front of you, increasing the risk of an accident. Let’s hope Council sees clearly, looks ahead with vision and guides our Union in the ways of God.
Neil we missed you – it was very different, had a good feel, and we talked about things that are important, (and left a few more trees intact too.) Perhaps at future events we can look at how we can use social media to help people join in the conversation – but one step at a time. It has been interesting to sense how several Baptist gatherings this week have resonated with the same messages – I hope that we will increasingly draw together what God is saying to everyone rather than seeing this as a gathering of a few representatives.