Sunday, April 05, 2009

reshaping missional life among baptist churches in urban centres

On Thursday I got down on one knee and “proposed”. It was at the end of our church meeting, in which we’d spent an hour talking and praying with our neighbouring Baptist church. Both churches are nearly 100 years old, yet only 2.3 km apart. They’ve been struggling for a while and so I’ve spent quite some time in recent months sitting with their leaders. (This might explain some rather oblique recent posts, including help my church is dying and chopping down the Sunday tree.) Here is the proposal, which is being made public in both churches this Sunday morning.

INTRODUCTION: For over a year, conversations have been happening with regard to the future of Beckenham Baptist. On Thursday night, the Beckenham leaders were welcomed to an Opawa Baptist Church meeting and an hour together we listened, talked and prayed.

PROPOSAL: Beckenham and Opawa talk about what it means to be one church, in two physical locations, with multiple congregations.

QUESTION: If our Baptist forebears were starting Christian mission today, what would they do in our area?

FRAMEWORK: The goal must be mission and God’s Kingdom and not the survival of a church.

ETHOS: for Opawa, we want to make clear that
- This is family and families walk together. This must not be a takeover
- In Romans 12, Paul reminds us we are a church body, called to work toward unity. This comes in the power of God’s spirit and as we respect the unique value of each different part.
- While Opawa is already really busy, we are excited about the mission and Kingdom possibilities that could emerge as we consider the area between Colombo Street and Brougham Street.

ONE CONCRETE WAY FORWARD:
1. Continue Beckenham ministries.
2. Opawa ministries (eg. children, intermediate, youth, discipleship, Bible days) offered to Beckenham at Opawa.
3. Place Opawa’s Side Door arts congregation at Beckenham.
4. Locate a missional leader to run a new form of church at Beckenham on Sunday mornings. This would involve closing Beckenham’s Sunday morning service in its current format but keep doors open on Sunday morning to serve coffee and muffins, read Scripture and find concrete ways to serve the Beckenham community.
5. Those at Beckenham who might struggle with this new form of church join one of Opawa’s existing congregations : hymn service or 10:30 am service.
6. Richard Smith (current pastor) become part of an “overall” combined church pastoral team, to provide pastoral care of all existing Beckenham people and possible involvement with existing Opawa people.

A SUGGESTED PROCESS:
1.Start in worship and fellowship. Opawa worship at Beckenham on Good Friday, and Beckenham worship at Opawa on Easter Sunday.
2. Form a combined taskforce to explore the idea and consider what this would look like in terms of leadership, buildings, congregations, ministries and church name. Involve Baptist Union leaders.
3. Both congregations discuss the taskforce proposal.
4. If agreement, hold a party to launch the changes and celebrate this new form of life.

In God’s timing, may the death and resurrection of Easter, be our comfort, guide, hope and courage.

Steve Taylor for Opawa Baptist

Posted by steve at 04:38 PM

2 Comments

  1. This looks both exciting and challenging. How did the congregations respond?

    Grace and peace
    Jonathan

    Comment by Jonathan — April 7, 2009 @ 9:26 am

  2. both with spades jonathan. now the talking begins with the devil most likely in the detail :)

    will update on blog as appropriate

    steve

    Comment by steve — April 8, 2009 @ 10:28 am

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