It was encouraging and exciting to listen to the Baptist Union of Scotland Council grapple with the issue of what it means to belong to one another. To participate in a 24 hour process of listening, reflecting, challenging and resolving that this is “our” Union, was a great privilege. Many people shared what they believed it meant for them to belong and what they would want others joining our union to participate in years to come as well as listening to scriptural patterns revealed by the New Testament Churches.
There was a real desire to develop our understanding of associating and how interchurch resourcing might look in the future. Already we have exciting models developing amongst us. In the borders the local churches have just spent a weekend listening to one another and developing a shared vision for mission and church planting in the region. A more developed process has been followed through for many years now in the south west, with a whole variety of missional outcomes from caring for the homeless to planting new churches.
This idea of sharing a vision for a geographical area and allowing that to inform the local congregation’s vision and plans for the future runs against the general flow of how things have been. So often we want to establish our own vision and our own way of achieving the vision. I have been that busy Pastor; too busy building my vision of the local church to make time for sharing in the building of a variety of congregations and beyond to new church plants. The challenge that council grappled with was this, “are we willing to set self aside” long enough to listen to one another and to humbly learn from one another? Will we set aside personal ambition which so often leads to competitiveness to find a joint heart for the lost. As Mike Breen says in his latest book “Ambition should play out as mission not competitiveness.” We are on the same team with all God’s children, they are not the opposition.
In summary Council began to dream that in our Union we might embrace collaboration as second nature just as the churches of Corinth, Macedonia and Jerusalem were encouraged to do by Paul in 2 Corinthians 8.
A year ago we said to one another that we wanted to live under Christ’s rule being intentionally relational, unashamedly missional and creatively rooted. The understanding of our Union impacts each of these areas and today we have an opportunity to embrace our belonging to one another and demonstrate our union by taking the time to listen to one another, share vision with one another and resource one another for the sake of the mission of God in our nation of Scotland.