Baptists Together Mission Forum – December 2017
Baptists Together Mission Forum met at the International Mission Centre in Birmingham on 7-8 December. This Forum meets twice a year and includes the mission lead from each Association, our General Secretary and a representative each from a college and the Faith and Society Specialist Team.
The purpose of Mission Forum is five-fold:
What does hope look like where you are?
For the mutual support and enrichment of mission specialists.
To reflect on what we see God doing in mission personally, regionally and nationally, and to initiate relevant research and/or develop strategic plans as appropriate.
To take initiative in shaping the context of our vision, culture and priorities, to inspire, develop and encourage mission and to share best practice.
To provide a voice/representative for Baptists Together at national meetings / events.
For the allocating of grants from relevant designated funds according to the rules of the Forum and the agreed Baptists Together National Mission Strategy; and for the reviewing of such grants, and the accountability of those to whom they have been awarded.
We reflected on our purpose and how this connects on the ground to our Baptist communities. We want to be help local congregations be beacons of hope. But what does it mean in each different context? Key questions for each church to ask is why are we here? and what does hope look like where we are?
We also acknowledge that everyone is a ‘minister’ in their home, work place or school . We belong to a Priesthood of all believers with pastors, evangelists and prophets all called to be witnesses and bringers of light.
Roy Searle spoke about his recent experiences of pioneering in the north. They are not just producing specialists but rediscovering their Baptist DNA so becoming a pioneering people with a missional imperative in a post-Christendom world. This is not without challenges especially when fitting new people into established models of church. Also, how to draw together those in urban and rural situations who can often feel isolated. One way this will be supported is through a proposed Pioneer Lab, based in the north to serve the whole of the country. It will link people, provide research, development and theological refection.
Simon Goddard focussed particularly on Fresh Expressions. He suggests there is a need for us to reimagine our ecclesiology – what would it look like if each church was actually a network of many different congregations? He talked about the first meeting of the multi-congregation learning community and invited other churches wanting to go on this journey to become part of it. He also shared his hope for a Mission Conference in the autumn of 2018 to help churches, amongst other things, engage with fresh expressions and pioneering.
The larger churches gathering was discussed, and asked the question what can the larger churches churches offer, particularly in training missional and pioneering leaders?
How can we support young leaders? We lose many young Baptist leaders to other denominations. Whilst this is not a Kingdom loss, it is for us and they leave because they are not being supported in the right way. Various ideas were discussed, including a BMS style ‘Action Team’ approach and putting resources into University towns.
Urban Life is a network of people exploring new approaches to mission and Christian presence in deprived and marginalised urban neighbourhoods in the UK. Mike Pears shared how they have been using the investment they received from Mission Forum. Their key deliverables are:
For more information visit http://urbanlife.org
Meals with Meaning; bespoke research
Lighting the beacons in 2018
As we move into next year we will be supporting various Initiatives, projects, and awarding grants. We will be taking part in:
Thy Kingdom Come - https://www.thykingdomcome.global
Hope 2018 - https://www.hopetogether.org.uk
Faith in Later Life – faithinlaterlife.org
Listening Project. We are commissioning research to find out what the Spirit is doing in our Baptist Communities so we can invest in the right areas of mission. This will be led by Carmel Murphy of Urban Expression A tool kit will be devised, tested in three Association and then reworked for wider use across Baptists Together. Can we multiply what happens in one area into other areas?
Beacon App. To help churches engage with the key question of ‘What does hope look like where you are? We aim to be producing resources to support this, including an app as well as printed material.
Grants. We will be supporting the listening project, the Pioneer lab in Leeds, encouraging Millennials to attend Assembly through free places and investing in the Seventy-Two stand at Spring Harvest.
Prayer. Roy Searle who lead worship throughout our gathering wrote the following prayer, summing up prayerfully all we had reflected on.
you called Aidan to burn like a flame in the Dark Ages,
Set our hearts on fire with your love,
Open our eyes to your glory,
Open our lives to your brightness,
Help us to be beacons of hope
and show forth your light today
with godly, humble confidence
with renewed inspiration and authority
Through Christ our Lord, who is the Light of the world,
And reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, for evermore.
Photo: Northern Lights over St Mary’s Island by Thomas Heaton
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