|The wider view|
Three years ago, the church in which I minister stopped meeting all together on one Sunday in each month. It was a 23% cut in our worship provision. It wasn't a cost-saving measure as if austerity had taken over the treasurer, but a mission initiative. Because our church meets in a school which is itself in a suburb that has no centre or gathering point, we found ourselves to be invisible within the community. So we decided to scrap our worship service on the second Sunday of each month and meet instead in a wide range of relational groups that aim to meet the people around us. A couple of groups meet in park pavilions and put on games, crafts and refreshments for families; a couple more lead acts of worship in care homes. Two groups meet in cafes, one on the allotments, one in a social club. Some simply meet in homes and invite immediate neighbours for Brunch. One group prayer walks, one paints fences and picks litter in conjunction with the Council. Each month we engage with perhaps 140 people we wouldn't otherwise meet, and outreach has become part of the DNA of the church, not least because all this happens on a Sunday and so participation among church members is very high.
This is our story. One of the privileges of being a HEBA trustee is that I get to hear of other stories. I recently went to an open day at Three Trees, the centre for the community developed out of Chelmsley Wood Baptist Church. I went partly because HEBA gave a number of mission grants over the years to help the vision become reality. But I also went because it's good to see what others are doing to bring resurrection life to their communities.
So when you have a story to tell, please will you share it? Tell us what you have been doing and widen our view. If you have an event or a celebration, post something on the HEBA Facebook page. If you have a project or a mission initiative, jot down the outline and send it to your Regional Minister, each of whom are tasked with always having a couple of contemporary stories to take with them as they travel from church to church.
It is, after all, pretty easy to get absorbed only in what is happening locally. Reaching our own communities whilst trying to maintain our own congregations can keep our view narrow. But the stories we share can inspire, give others ideas, or simply remind us of the sheer breadth of good things going on because of the faithful work and witness of Baptist churches across the patch.
So widen our view with what you have been doing. And if you want to go wider still, book in to the Baptist Assembly and get a picture of what’s happening nationally and, through BMS World Mission, internationally. The Assembly this year is a one-day affair in Harrogate on Saturday 13th May and it is so far undersubscribed. Bookings can be made through the BU website.
Grace and peace,