What does it mean to ‘be church’ today?

Anyone driving a new car may have discovered that these days you have a tyre repair kit instead of a spare wheel. The promise is that ‘all you have to do’ is spray the contents of the can into the flat tyre and off you go. It sounds like the perfect solution! You don’t have to use a jack, struggle with over-tight wheel nuts or empty the contents of your boot to lift out the spare wheel. The solution is in the can. The trouble us is, you’ll only know if it actually works when it’s too late.

If we are honest, most of us would prefer easy answers to many of life’s challenges. We also know that the ‘quick fix’ doesn’t always provide long-term answers. Many churches across Wales are asking big questions about their future: How do we keep going? Who is going to follow us? Where are the missing generations and how do we reach them today?

This past year the Baptist Union of Wales has been investing in missional training. The Forge Missional training we have chosen does not promise a quick fix but hopefully allows us to think more deeply and equip us more effectively to be the church in a post-Christian society.

The two-year missional training course ‘Ethos’ began in September 2020 with some deeper reflection around our understanding of who God is, His Church, who we are in Christ and what kind of leaders we need to be to discern where God is leading us in mission. Around sixty people from all corners of Wales have met online every two weeks with Cameron Roxburgh to read, learn and discuss. Most people have come with a small group of leaders from their church and some attend on their own.

A different group of people have been following the ‘Explore’ program which meets once per month to reflect and talk about missional practice. Throughout 2020 we had a good number faithfully attend each month and many have chosen to carry on with new attenders joining ‘Explore’ this September. Last year we focused on what being a ‘missionary people’ means for us today rooted in our reading of Scripture, our practice within the church and how we live that among our neighbours. This year we are looking at seven disciplines that shape the church for mission.

This is what two of our younger ministers have to say about both courses:

Although mission is one of Jesus’ greatest commands to his disciples, we Welsh have lost the desire or ability to get out of the four walls of the chapel and tell others the Good News about Jesus Christ. Explore has opened our minds on how to do simple things to start the conversation about faith once again in our neighbourhoods. The importance of community mission.  The importance of working with a team in our chapels and areas.  An emphasis on a prayer life. Although we meet through a screen, I have come to know many people across Wales.  Without Explore I’m quite sure we would never have had the opportunity to do this.  Discuss old and new ideas with people working towards the same aim.

Rev Sian Elin Thomas, Bro Cemaes and Emlyn

Forge has been a brilliant resource, and one that I have found has helped bring together lots of ideas and thoughts into a better understanding of how both the church and the individual have a crucial role to play in mission. The course has been a rare opportunity for church leaders to put down the lead and to learn. This has, in turn, created a safe space for leaders to honestly explore and discuss how mission works in their church context. I have loved the opportunity to hear from Cam and other leaders who are further along the process of developing a mission-minded church, learning from their experiences and finding inspiration in their stories. Sadly, Forge doesn’t do it all for you; the course will always remain a course unless we are willing to take up the call to be missional and lead our churches in meeting the practical and spiritual needs of the communities in which God has placed us. 

Rev Tim Moody, Moriah Baptist Church

If you or your church are interested in joining either of these courses in future, feel free to email simeon@ubc.cymru for more information.

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