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Reflection on a Firestarter event 

Liz Connelly was a participant in the latest Firestarter, one of a series of events which are exploring Baptist church growth. She shares her thoughts



What can I say about the Firestarter event without giving too much away - because of course, there are more of these, and I would definitely want to encourage people to take part! So yes, it was worthwhile, and yes, I enjoyed it. But that wasn’t what it was about.

First of all - I loved hearing the stories of the different churches that we heard. The story of Beacon Church Stafford and lessons learnt from Alex Harris. The story of Limbrick Wood Church in Coventry, and lessons learnt from Darren Bovis-Coulter. The mindblowing interview with the humble but dynamic Aaron Jarvis about Londonderry Baptist Church and Aaron’s inspiring journey to his role as Pastor and vision to bring people to Jesus on an international scale…… The story of Blaby Baptist Church, the host church, from Pauline Wills.
Then the ‘ordinary’ stories of those attending. Organisers deliberately kept to about 25-30 to maximise the opportunity for conversation, rather than a dominating keynote speaker format - and converse we did!
It was about letting light shine out of darkness (2 Corinthians 4:6)
Alex Harris opened. He told us that the aim of Firestarter is for 100 Baptist Together churches to have twice as many baptisms in the next 12 months than in the last five years. Well, that is a challenge in itself!
The stories of the different churches were shared - stories of multiple congregations, an unusually high number of baptisms, reaching unchurched people rather than simply migraters, and working towards a vision.
There were warnings too - the need to recognise that growth can lead to loss of focus and to acknowledge and recognise this.
There was talk of partnering with other churches, support from the local Association, doing what God wants you to do in your situation. God is wiser than us.

Key elements

Prayer, Preaching, Gifting, Mission, Planning, and less palatable - Personal cost.

‘We follow a King who they slaughtered because of His grace.’ ?(Colossians 1:24)
The importance of communication, accountability, efficiency, inspiration, transformation, the authority of the Bible, keeping the Gospel simple.
Much learning from the model of apostles and deacons from Acts 6.
If we don’t do things in God’s power, with God’s direction and in God’s time, we are just pleasing ourselves.  The need for intentional discipleship.
If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re just not big enough.
If salvation isn’t central for us, there’s something wrong
What do you need to STOP entirely in the church, what do you need to START,
Who do you need to EMPOWER, What do you need to CHANGE?

Actions - what could be? 

Day 2 was about actions: What could be? And how to lead toward that. Action plans and accountability and next steps.
From James 4:2 You do not have because you do not ask God
Workshops were based on principles based on Acts 6:1-7
Vine Principle: The majority of ministry leader’s time, resources and effort should be spent on ‘prayer and ministry of the word’
Trellis Principle:  There needs to be designated leaders full of the ‘Spirit and wisdom’ to deal with the practical stuff.
(Idea popularised in ‘The Trellis and the Vine’ by Colin Marshall and Tony Payne)

And most important of all: the recognition that prayer is vital, and this was a very strong message for all present - along with, dare I say - fasting. Be challenged!

Liz Connelly's home church is Whetstone Baptist Church, and she is currently on a placement at Cross Hills Baptist Church while exploring ministry and studying the Equipped to Minister course at Spurgeon's College.

Baptist Times, 18/07/2018
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