2020: Transformations, Generations, Innovations

I wish you a Happy New Year. And more importantly, I pray for a year in which you are filled with the Spirit of Jesus, inspired by the word of God and drawn into his mission in new ways. As the largest network of evangelical churches in the country, God has entrusted us with great responsibilities – to be his witnesses together wherever he has placed us and to make the most of every opportunity the life of discipleship presents to us. At the start of the year I want to share with you the three priorities I believe God has called me to bring to our attention at this time: Transformations, Generations and Innovations. (Some will remember that I talked about these at our Assembly in November.) 1 Transformations: Our goal is transformation into a life fit for Jesus; to be people transformed through the sacrifice of the Son of God, in the power of the Spirit of God, under the authority of the word of God, seized by a passion for the kingdom of God. And we are commissioned by Jesus to invite everyone we can into this new God-transformed life through repentance and faith. It is easy for us to give our best energy to keeping the church running, filling the rotas and trying to make everyone comfortable. This is focusing on what we are doing rather than what God is doing. It is tempting to measure fruitfulness by how many people attend our gatherings. A better measure will always be to focus on who and what God is transforming. 2 Generations: God has gifted our churches with people of all ages to be exemplary disciples and to carry leadership responsibility. We have tended to entrust responsibility to those of greater age. Now is the time to ensure that all generations are encouraged to become all that God is calling them to be, and this means paying particular attention to younger generations. There are some excellent examples of Scottish Baptist churches intentionally discipling, training and trusting younger leaders. The national work of Ali Laing, our Next Generation Coordinator, with the Invest programme is also vital for this. However, Generations is not simply a project but a cultural change that needs to happen in all our churches. It reflects the radical way Jesus chose his disciples, entrusting the mission of his kingdom to young adults and not just seasoned elders. 3 Innovations: I have been blessed, nurtured and hugely enriched through our inherited way of being church, and I give thanks for the life and growth in so many of our churches now. However, I am deeply unsure whether this form of church (even somewhat enhanced and modernised) is sufficient on its own for the evangelisation of our land. The Apostle Paul writes ‘I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings’ (1 Corinthians 9:22-23). In the same spirit, I believe this is a season for developing innovatory ways of being church alongside our existing congregations - churches where the message remains unchanged but the vessel is reconfigured. These may be, for example, churches that reflect the simplicity of disciple-making movements in other parts of the world, that make their central practice eating together or that purposely immerse themselves in relationship-building in local communities. God has blessed our churches with faith, hope and love and I have high expectations for what he will do in us and through in the coming year. My prayer is that we will keep transformations, generations and innovations in the foreground as together we seek to live faithfully as disciples of Jesus. Martin Hodson General Director

Do we believe prayer is important? If so, let’s pray together!

I have just finished compiling the Prayer Calendar for our churches for 2020 and I am starting to ask churches for their prayer points for the year ahead. Looking back at 2019, I have been really encouraged to hear stories about the regional gatherings across the country, focussing on worship and prayer for our churches and our nation. With the demise of the traditional weekly prayer meeting, it has also been encouraging to hear how churches are again developing gatherings for regular committed prayer together. How our communities and indeed, society as a whole, need bathed in prayer and saturated with the love and hope only Jesus can bring. In a society which is even more fragmented and fraught, we should be crying out to God in intercession and listening attentively to what God stirs in our hearts. Corporate prayer is very important and we should be encouraging one another to pray for our own church, our local communities and our family of churches across our nation. Can I encourage you in 2020 to follow our daily prayer guide throughout the year and intercede for our family of churches as well as our chaplains and other sister organisations? I know it would mean a lot to people within our churches to know others are praying for them as they seek to serve Christ in their area. Individual prayer is also really important, not just to recite a shopping list but to take time to listen to the heart of our Father. I have started using the new Lectio365 prayer app from 24-7 Prayer and I have been finding this hugely beneficial to my own prayer life in encouraging me to slow down, pause, reflect on Scripture and pray in a more focussed and intentional way. Prayer is a fantastic gift from God to enable us to connect with Him, worship Him, share our hopes and our fears and stand in the gap for others. In 2020, let’s encourage one another to use this gift of prayer for our churches, communities, our own lives and the lives of those around us. The Prayer Calendar for 2020 is available on our website here: https://d2he42ayrxly0i.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/06131944/PrayerCalender2020.pdf Jenny Wilson Prayer Guide Coordinator

Baptist Churches in the UK receive funding from AllChurches Trust for Youth Work Projects – Could your church be next?

We wanted to highlight this source of grant funding for Youth Work projects to our churches across Scotland, a great potential resource to expand children’s and youth outreach in your local community! Allchurches Trust launched its Growing Lives grants programme in May 2019 with the aim of making churches and Christian organisations feel better equipped, inspired and confident in supporting young people in their communities to reach their potential, spiritually, and in many other ways. In July, 21 projects received a share of £276,487 of funding in the first wave of grants to be awarded, and a further 65 will receive cheques this week totalling £644,975. The programme is still open for applications. For the past two years, Bentley Baptist Church in South Yorkshire have undertaken a social outreach programme from an empty betting shop in an area still suffering from the pit closures. They will use their £1,100 Growing Lives grant to create an area for children and young people within the shop, including soundproofing and games equipment. A £7,500 grant will help Hooe Baptist Church in Plymouth to upgrade its facilities so that it can run a youth café and cinema night. A trained counsellor will provide a listening ear at the café drop-in. High Street Baptist Church in Tring, Hertfordshire, will use its £4,900 grant to increase the size of its worship area to create more community space for after school clubs and holiday events. It will also run an evening service for young people. Allchurches Trust Director, Rachel Whittington, said: “Our Growing Lives grants programme supports a wide range of projects, delivered by churches and charities, with young people at their heart. It’s always inspiring to read about the innovative ways in which the organisations we fund are working together to meet local need and realise the power of young people to strengthen community. “In some of the UK’s most deprived areas, the church is likely to be one of the last institutions left standing and it’s so important that they have the resources to engage as early and as effectively as possible with the next generation. Applications for the programme are continuing to flood in and we’re excited about passing the £1 million milestone in 2020.” Under Growing Lives, grants of up to £25,000 are available and the amount depends upon the cost of the project and the level of need in the community, ranging from 10% of project cost to 80%. Churches can apply for a grant under this programme even if they have received funding from Allchurches in the last two years, as long as it is for a different project. You can find out more at www.allchurches.co.uk/growinglives