Thursday 29th October Day 1 – Part 1 (Florence MacKenzie)
This was our first visit to the Assembly. James and I were only able to attend the afternoon session on Thursday, having travelled down from Aberdeen in the morning. As we listened to the ministry adviser’s address, and heard various reports on ministry activities from places as far apart as Dunrossness and Stirling, our antennae were up to catch something of the challenges and opportunities of our times. One word kept being repeated over and over again, both in platform presentations and in comments from the floor – TOGETHER. This was very much a common theme running through the entire afternoon session. At a personal level, this was emphasised to us by getting together with some very old friends whom we have not seen for over 30 years!
The theme of TOGETHER was also one that was evident in the presentation that Glen and I gave on behalf of SBLPA. I felt privileged to have the opportunity of sharing something of the work and vision of SBLPA. Judging by some of the comments we received afterwards, others were encouraged by what we said to take an active interest in the work of the Association. Glen and I tried to keep the presentation concise and focused – both very necessary as ours was the last platform presentation of a busy afternoon! After showing SBLPA’s excellent promotional video, Glen shared, with his usual enthusiasm, something of the vision of SBLPA. I then spoke about the opportunities that membership of the Association gives to lay preachers. As our presentation was short, here it is in its entirety.
Glen: Helping to grow healthy churches is why we exist! But why are we excited about preaching in 2009?
Against the backcloth of the fast moving, multi media Internet, Twitter and Facebook world of which we’re a part, where we have instant news, instant credit and instant coffee, preaching is increasingly perceived as being old hat, past its sell-by date, dull and boring. Yet to be engaged in preaching today, committed to studying and faithfully communicating the dynamic truth of the Bible, creatively and enthusiastically showing its relevance within a spiritually mosaic Scotland, is not only an awesome privilege and challenge, but calls for men and women who are counter-cultural and who take time to hear prophetically what God is saying.
In partnership with every Scottish Baptist church, we want through the service and ministry of our members to help grow healthy churches, where the Word has its rightful place.
Florence MacKenzie, one of our lay preachers from Aberdeen, is going to share of the opportunities which the Lay Preachers’ Association provides for her.
Florence: Being a member of the Scottish Baptist Lay Preachers’ Association offers tremendous opportunities!
Firstly, membership offers educational opportunity – the Association has put together ‘Connect Four’, a series of interactive workshops designed specifically for lay preachers. These are held every couple of months, on Saturdays, in Stirling Baptist Church. A further source of educational opportunity is the Association’s Annual General Meeting. AGMs are usually to be endured rather than enjoyed, but the Lay Preachers’ Association takes these to a new level by inviting an interesting speaker to address us! And that is not all. We’ve established a fruitful relationship with the Scottish Baptist College and offer training to help you in preaching and communication.
Secondly, membership offers electronic opportunity via the Association’s very user-friendly website which is absolutely packed with useful resources for those involved in lay preaching. It’s regularly updated and members receive emails keeping us informed of what’s happening.
Thirdly, membership offers equal opportunity – men and women who are currently involved in lay preaching are warmly welcomed into membership. This is not an ‘old boys’ network – membership is made up of ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ of varying ages, background and experience! Membership provides ‘opportunity for all’ to exercise their teaching gifts in the context of public ministry in the church.
I wholeheartedly commend the Association to you.
Glen: We hope you’ve caught a snapshot of what is a mainstream ministry within our life and witness as Scottish Baptists. Will you allow us to partner with, and serve you? You may be a young person here with a gift for preaching. Or a Pastor looking for a resource on which you can draw. Join with us. Only by pulling together, coming together, working together, will we help grow healthy churches …… together!
We would encourage you to pray that our presentation will help to position SBLPA firmly within the mainstream of Scottish Baptist life as a resource for the whole church. Together we can do what we as lay preachers are passionately committed to: communicating God’s never-changing Word to the ever-changing world in which we live.
Thursday 29th October Day 1 – Part 2 (Alan Milnes)
Thursday evening was very exciting as Andy Scarcliffe shared some news of various Churches round the country who are experimenting with different ways of being the Church. One example is in Gairloch where the Church mainly meets in people’s houses. During the week some of the young mums get together at a play area and have fellowship whilst the children play, one week on the way to this a little girl was asked where she was going and answered “I’m going to church” – out of the mouths of babes!
The keynote speaker was David Coffey, President of the Baptist World Alliance, who took as his passage Acts 16 v6-15 – “The Witness of the Church”. his points were:-
- God gives the vision
- God opens the heart
- God completes what he begins
David spoke of how the Christian Church is growing at a faster pace than at any time in history, as people are finding fresh expressions and breaking out out of the man imposed mold. He showed pictures of exciting movements from around the world as people find changing ways to spread God’s unchanging Word. One particular highlight was the photos from the Cowboy Church of Texas! There is of course a biblical basis for this –
Each one of us has a role to play in “punching holes in the darkness” – our task is to find out what God wants us to do and then do it in His strength.