'Connect’, our Union's monthly newsletter, interviewed Andy Scarcliffe, former Mission Advisor to the Baptist Union of Scotland, about the new PRISM pioneer planting initiative.
C: We are beginning to hear news of a new B.U.S. initiative called “PRISM”, what is it and what do you hope it will achieve?
AS: PRISM is the name we have given to a new pioneer planting initiative that we are launching this month. Some people have asked “why PRISM?” The idea is that as light is broken up into different colours as it passes through a PRISM, so God’s light shines through the church and has many different colourful expressions. I also just liked the name (ha ha!). It is my hope that through PRISM we will enhance the colour and vibrancy of Baptist churches in Scotland.
C: How is this different from other church planting initiatives?
I suppose the traditional view of church planting is to send a team from the planting congregation into another geographical area to start a new church in a similar style to the sending church, just like the exciting developments in Carnoustie.
The concept behind PRISM is the releasing and resourcing of individuals who have a vision for something different; maybe a new format of worship, a new structure of meeting or a church that would reach a distinct group of people not presently reached by the church.
C: So the pioneers would work alone?
AS: No! We would seek to build a team around the pioneers from several local churches, providing resources and appropriate training where necessary. Since our vision is for radical innovative expressions of church, the pioneers will be exposed to significant faith challenges. We will walk that journey of faith with them, rather than sending them off into the sunset.
C: What are some of the catalysts that are driving this initiative?
AS: At present we have many people who feel called to full time pastoral ministry who share Baptist convictions but question whether they would fit the traditional Baptist church ministry as we know it. We see PRISM as providing a way of releasing this new generation of visionary leaders. However the major catalyst is the change in society. There are many people today who would never look towards church as we know it to find the answers they are searching for. Our prayer is that the PRISM initiative will create forms of church that are more accessible to post-Christian Scotland.
C: So this is an opportunity for our family of churches to partner with something innovative and exciting?
AS: I am excited about the fact that we are putting Scottish Baptist Fund money and other resources where our mouth and faith is, and taking the risky step of reaching out into a post-Christian culture. Just like Abraham we are trusting that God will lead us, but we are not sure where and exactly what it might look like, it is a journey of faith.
We are asking churches to either point us to individuals in their congregation who have the potential to be Pioneers and lead new ministries or to get together with other local churches in a region and cast a vision of planting something fresh together. Our Associations in the past were often galvanised by a vision for planting. My hope is that PRISM may help us build new missional relationships with one another that leads to new churches springing up around the country.
C: What might such a pioneer plant look like?
AS: Hmm, hard to tell. It might be a geographical plant, possibly into an area with no evangelical witness, initiated by 3 or more churches working together with a pioneer. It might also be non-geographical plant, into a subculture…. like café culture, youth culture, the business world, or even a distinct people group that find themselves now living in Scotland. We are open to the imagination of God’s people inspired by his Spirit to lead us into new possibilities.
The PRISM application form is here